Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our Lobbying Journalists

Some time back, before his death, industrialist, media baron and AICC member K K Birla published his memoirs. He described an incident where Sonia G was peeved at the appearance of some unfriendly articles in the Hindustan Times. In order to quell her anger K K had to dispatch Vir Sanghvi, his Editor, to her place to explain to her why as an independent newspaper HT cannot but publish articles of all views, including even those uncharitable to the Congress party or the Gandhi family.
This was, and is, our Vir Sanghvi. I suppose he did not find any violation of journalistic ethics in having to meet and explain editorial principles to the head of a political party. I wonder if he would have done the same with equal ease in respect of, say, the BJP.

V S is a shrewd man. A very shrewd one. When it comes to Sonia G, he uses the proverbial oil, but very subtly. He leaves no opportunity to call Narasimha Rao a ‘crook’, in spite of knowing very well that if bribing JMM in order to save his Govt was his wrongdoing then Manmohan Singh is no less guilty of the same crime. V S knows one thing very well -- to please the Madam, calling Rao names is the most effective way. Another reason behind his hatred towards Rao, I suppose, is more personal. Perhaps he wanted some favours which Rao did not grant (we know how these journalists are).

All this makes me more than happy that V S is now in the dock.

Coming to Barkha Dutt, I always felt she is just a mediocre journalist, with no great insights. Pronoy Roy gave her more importance than is her due, and coming from a person like Pronoy Roy, an undeserved greatness has been thrust upon her. Her offering to lobby is not an aberration, it rather manifests her natural traits.

I am not sure if Prabhu Chawla is also an accused; the media has hushed up the matter in such a way that it is difficult for an ordinary person to know the details. In any case, he is a most ordinary journalist. Now, if he is a co-accused, dishonesty will just be an added feather to his cap.

One point journalist Paronjoy Guha Thakurta makes is very pertinent: “What makes journalists easy targets is the delusion of grandeur that many of them suffer from. Proximity to people in positions of power or wealth feeds the ego of certain journalists, and they feel as powerful and influential as the people they are with." This applies to all the three above.