Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Barkha Dutt needs to be defended

I have been at the receiving end of highly critical words and statements for the recent post on my blog in which I have defended Barkha Dutt. Few of them have come through authentic source and they have attached their email address in case I feel that I should revert back to them.

Mostly though have been under the hood of anonymous. And I have no problem with the person being anonymous, since it’s me who has exercised this option of having anonymous comments. But I have been a bit disturbed by the use of language and words which to put it mildly is inappropriate.

All of the comments and feedbacks barring a rare few have said that I am acting as an agent of Barkha Dutt and I am one of those 'educated idiot' who has been recruited by Congress.

I am sure not many of those who have commented on the recent post of mine have gone though my previous posts. And I don’t expect them to do so. None of the commentators have been following my blog so it would be unfair on my part to expect them to know I am ‘what’ leaning. As in am I a Leftist, a Centrist or a bloody Rightist.
I am none. In my previous blogs I have written against everyone, for different reasons. Be it Yechury, be it Rahul Gandhi or be it Narendra Modi. Those who are interested can click on the tags and go through the articles that have been posted through the period of four years since the “Story teller” has come into existence.

I have criticised every political party barring no exception.

As for Barkha Dutt I have never been a fan of her, a fact that I have already elucidated in the previous post .I have also stated out my reasons for being so.

And it’s not that this is the first instance that I have written against her. I was somewhat against her accepting the Padma Shri. And I was aghast at the way she played herself while covering Mumbai attacks.

Though accepting state sponsored awards doesn't make you a state sponsored journalist. Many acclaimed journalist have accepted these awards and yet have been critical of the state. P. Sainath comes into mind.

But in the present case- which in history books will go as ‘Barkhagates’ I stand my ground that she did nothing wrong.

She is a journalist and like every other journalist she has to talk to N number of people for X number of reasons. And I would like to at the expense of offending everyone reiterate that she has no duty towards the general public to tell us that whom did she talk to and why in course of doing a story. She has no reason to give out her source. Not to me, not to you and not even at the sets of the “Buck stops here”.

Sometimes back there was a fierce tussle going on between two state leaders of a national party. And it happened by chance that one of friend happened to knew both of them . So one of the leader who was suffering politically asked my friend to intervene and sort out the matter . So the trio met at my friends house and the matter was sorted out.

Nothing was gifted to my friend by any of the leaders for this ‘service’. No farm house- no telecom license, no nothing. What he got was a good will from both. And he ran that story in the newspaper that the two leaders who were at loggerhead for quite some time have now sorted out all the differences.

NDTV or Barkha too did not fail to cover the 2G scam. And as a matter of fact they can’t afford to go silent on scam of such magnitude. For two reason. First, they have a reputation to live on. Secondly if they go silent it’s not that the other channels too would follow suit. In this era of highly activated environment no major channel or newspaper can afford to blackout any story for too long.

Just to make a point , even the Hindu , a newspaper that perhaps is the most respected publication in India, had to cover A Raja. Though they never went the extra mile when it came to going all out against Raja, like the other publication did. And one of the reason for that was the Hindu employee union is DMK run, a party to which A.Raja belongs.

The reason that made Barkha is being made out a demon in the eyes of the public is that it was an expose’. A sensational expose having all the ingredients like a lady PR who has all the right connections and a minister who has just puked Rs. 1.76 crore.

And she was caught in between the fair lady and the King.

People are saying that she owes more responsibility than any other journalist because she is idolized and trusted by many. But sometimes this very high expectation transforms into a hurdle of sort, stopping someone from carrying out his/her duty. It becomes a mythical expectation that burns down the very protagonist who has been assigned the duty to fight the demon.

Suggestions have come from some quarters that the time has come where we should think about having a media watch dog in the lines of the election commission. Without arguing anything I would say that the day media is put in chains we as a country would lose the only thing which has made sure that we as citizens are not consigned to flames of hell that are routinely born as a result of whims and fancies of few .


Aravind said...

First in the article you have said, Hindu (a highly respected newspaper) did not write anything about Raja because they have link with DMK. Thanks for the point. Okay now do you know that Hindu and NDTV are partners, and now connect the dots from NDTV to DMK. Of course I used to be a regular reader of Hindu but not anymore.

Next, you must understand the frustration by the so called lynch mob does not stick to this scenario only. NDTV and infact most of the media wants the people to think what they think and they cover the news in such way, and unfortunately most of us are raised stupids to believe the rumors and stuff. And do you know it does make huge impact. Most of us have outsourced our thinking to these media guys.

And so this is a chance to tell the people, don’t follow these guys blindly, even the proof they show in TV may not be true.

Now the worst part, the way the mainstream media is totally avoiding this issue should make you think to what extent these guys can go to not even discuss about something.

Remember, todays news is tomorrows history, and most of the problems we have today are because someone said something in history.

Abhinandan said...

Aravind - thanks for taking the efforts to go through the writeup and for your subsequent comment.

I agree with you when you say that the media has gone into the mode of spoon feeding the delicacies it feels it should thereby prohibiting the viewers from exercise his/her choice.

I wrote about this very thing somewhere in 2008, and since I could not find the exact link on my blog I have attached a link to a site where it was later published.

agreed that the media was slow to respond to the tapes. I hope you must have read the words of the editor of Mint the day the tapes were revealed. He said that they have not carried out a story on the tape because they are bit unsure about the authenticity, the circumstances etc in which the conversation were tapped. And I am not in any way justifying that the alleged black out was appropriate.

Maybe they went slow on the whole thing and maybe the fact that since it was a sensational expose' it spread too fast before the media houses could decide how to go about it. And before they could act it was in the public sphere. And it got the reaction that was expected.

In our country no single media house, however big, will ever be able to sit on a story.

Debashish said...

Journos are supposed to be witnesses, not accomplices. Sadly the Tehelka kind of journalism has blurred all the lines and now the journalists themselves are confused.

Neeraj Bhushan said...

Discussions in a forum like this, if open, should not hurt. People have different views. Both people and their views may be respected. They enlighten us, guide us, check us and perfect the balance. Let your thoughts fly. Best.

Anonymous said...

My dear friend, I suggest you go through this follow-up article in Open magazine and then maybe you would be willing to concede that Barkha Dutt is in the wrong.

As far as the mint article is concerned, are you really so naive as to fall for the "authenticity" angle? Even NDTV has admitted the tapes are real. Moreover, like me, if you had gone through the comments on that article, you would have realized that withholding coverage while checking for authenticity isn't exactly a strong suit of Mint.
Of course, as expected, those comments were taken down the very next day. Make out what you can out of it


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