Sorry, I am a Journalist!

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by abirbec04, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. abirbec04

    abirbec04 Regular Member

    Aug 13, 2010
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    The Sunday Cover of The New Indian Express dated November 28, 2010 is by Gautam Datt. The New Indian Express once again stood apart from the rest by displaying 'Journalism of Courage' by publishing a balanced and thought-provoking piece. Thanks to Radia tapes, the true face of Journalism is finally exposed. Courtesy: The New Indian Express


    Anantha Krishnan Muralidharan Nair

    “What do YOU mean by Radia tapes?” my son (Class-V), recovering from a bad bout of fever, had a very interesting question this Sunday morning. His mother, i.e., my wife, had an interesting answer to his query: “It’s the story of how corrupt Journalists are!”
    While I used my Veto Power (sic!) to end the Sunday morning debate abruptly, the guilt within me in not giving a proper explanation to the little fellow grew by the hour. So, I decided to pen this piece on Tarmka007 – which carries the catch-line Journalism Purpose!
    The bulky Sunday Supplements of The New Indian Express and Deccan Herald had interesting stories on the Falling Towers of the Fourth Estate. Then I received an interesting piece from sans serif written by Mr T.J.S. George. Like a classic Sachin straight drive, TJS was as fine, flawless and inspirational as ever. I rang my friend Gautam Datt, who wrote the Sunday cover in The New Indian Express, and congratulated him for his very balanced piece.
    A Journalist provoked by his son and cornered by his wife was soon at work. For a change, shutters down on Tejas and Agni! A piece on Journalism, my sole bread-winning-profession, instead.
    Flashback: I was thrown out of my house at the age of 19 in 1993 when I left my Engineering course in Latur mid-way, to purse my dream in Journalism. It shook my late mother – a retired English teacher – for a while, until she realized that her prodigal son had already landed a job in Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad. On my return to home after a gap of 2 years, my mother held my hand, amidst a group of villagers and relatives, and said: “You made it, finally. Now, stick to it. Always be true to whatever you do.”
    Later as I graduated in the newsroom, picking-up the threads of the trade, I was reminded by my guru in Journalism, the great Sitaram Sir (D. Sitaram, UNI Southern Chief during Emergency), that writing is a noble profession like teaching and every time YOU write a piece, YOU are honouring Goddess Saraswati – the custodian of letters. “Write straight as an arrow. Write fearlessly,” says Sitaram Sir, who has just turned 86. He lives happily as ever in Sitaphalmandi area of Secunderabad with friends dropping in every evening to give him company. “Having a drink with your source once is fine. But the trouble is when YOU make this a habit. To me that’s the first sign of YOU being corrupt,” he adds.
    As TJS writes in sans serif: “Journalism started going astray with the birth of financial dailies in the 1960s. With full-fledged newspapers devoted exclusively to business, corporate houses became hyperactive. The next thing we knew was press conferences ending with gifts of expensive sarees and suitlengths to reporters. The glamour of celebrityhood has a way of going to one’s head. Delusions of grandeur are never a journalistic virtue. The real virtue is the mind’s ability to maintain a degree of detachment. When the game is played at the 5-star level, one can never be sure of who is fooling whom. It will be good for everyone to remember that there is one lot that can never be fooled: The people.”
    So, thanks to the recent serial scams that exposed the Media-Politician nexus, the Fourth Estate seems to be finally shaking. Tar on the face of Journalists. And, if YOU are wondering what’s breaking in this piece of News, honestly there’s nothing. Are Journalists corrupt? Well, if not all, most of them; if not most, many of them; if not many, some of them! Just that the range varies, depending upon their designations. Depending upon their profile; depending upon their command in the newsroom to make or break News. And YOU the reader and the viewer: May be, YOU were fooled. May be, YOU were taken for a ride! Not once. But, many a times!
    My innings with Aviation Week, reporting full-time Defense and Aviation stories, taught me yet another lesson; that how corrupt the system I report on, is. While, one can write 100 PhD theses on how corrupt some of India’s defense establishments are, the story is no different among desi and paradesi private players. For they, would stoop to any levels to get a favorable story out. One foreign company’s Media Department is said to be ‘taking care’ of journalists who give them publicity when it matters. The return gift is tempting: Foreign junkets in the name of familiarization visits, 5-Star-sessions, gifts and what not! Another company’s PR agency claims close proximity with Editors and they get their work done ‘directly.’
    My stint with the Bangalore-based plane-making firm HAL for 4 years as its Media head showed the greedy side of my clanmen. At times there were even calls a day before a press meet, asking what the gift in the press kit would be. When the CorpCom team decided to do away with expensive gifts and introduce pen-drives instead, there were many who expressed their displeasure. I came out of HAL in November 2009.
    The media kit HAL gave in 2010, during the LCH first flight, apparently looked like a bathing kit with sandal wood soaps, talcum powder etc. Sops for journos! The gift culture is very rampant in PSUs and companies like HAL virtually run a mini ‘gift shop’ (read a department that procures gifts). A substantial portion of their annual budget goes for buying expensive gifts, to pamper mantris, secretaries and MoD babus. In fact, while handling the Media during the 2007 and 2009 Aero India for HAL, I felt the heat when MoD babus from Dilli ensured that their share of gifts were ‘delivered’ on time. Even a journalist was chasing us non-stop to exchange a T-shirt, as the one given in the press kit was XL, while the journo wanted L!
    (P.S: Soaps and talcum powder are delivered in the open and snatched by Journos openly. Hence there's some 'sense of transparency' exhibited by the giver and the taker. But, Journalists are capable of 'taking-up' bigger tasks. That's what at least these scams tell us.)
    And, the show goes on. The corrupt gets more corrupt. Journalists wearing the mask will continue with their smart act. They will be hailed as heroes. And, those who dare to call a spade a spade, will remain in minority. Always.
    Finally, there’s more to News than what meets the eye. I write for a living, but YOU don’t have to read or view the same for YOUR living. I don’t have a choice, but to write. But, YOU have a choice what to read and what not to view. Hope YOU will react strongly. Hope YOU will become wise. Hope YOU know that Journalists are not saints. Hope YOU will help save my profession.
    I hope my Mother will forgive me? Sorry, I am a Journalist!
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2010

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