Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mediagate, phone taps, leaks, corporate wars in India and Arnab Goswami

The Niira Radia tapes bring to light the extent of lobbying, molly coddling, news planting, opinion inseminating and persuasion corporate house indulge in in India. In the US all this is supposedly legal however in India it's still a new trend. Everyone knows it's there but no one talks about it. Govt policy is influenced by powerful PR personnel who can call almost anyone in the journalistic who's who or bureaucracy in the country. This post isn't going to start sermonizing about the ramifications this can have on our country or if the allocation of a natural resource can be decided by the judge of a High Court. This post isn't also going to be about how all this could be part of a grand corporate war between two brothers. We aren't going to delve about Barkha Dutt or #BarkhaGate as it has come to be known on Twitter nor the episode where Editors posted questions which went gloriously unanswered on NDTV. 

This is about "The Newshour" on Times NOW and Arnab Goswami. Arnab Goswami was an excellent news anchor in NDTV a long time ago, he still is a reasonably good moderator of television debates. I used to watch a 10 PM news show on NDTV half a decade ago (almost) and that was hosted by Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami and it was a brilliant format. Tonight on "The Newshour" on Times NOW, which hehad editorial control over,  Armab rightly proclaimed that there are no tapes that involve him and I applaud him for his incorruptibility. But on the same note I hope he's heard the tape where Navika Kumar sounded like a pet poodle when a call came to her phone from the head honcho of a PR agency. This conversation clearly indicates the rapport the two characters shared and if what Arnab has written in the internal memo to his staff is true then Navika Kumar better find another job.

The following is supposedly the internal memo Arnab wrote to Times NOW's staff:

There has been news about two senior journalists from other media groups being involved in collaborating with corporate lobbyists and corporate groups on the 2G scam issue. This is a low point in the news business. It’s downright shameful. I am writing to reiterate some of the core values of the group and the channel. We believe in fierce editorial independence and complete personal honesty. Our standards have to remain impeccably high. In your interactions at any level, remember that you are ambassadors of India’s number one news channel. In an earlier edit meeting, I have said that even a pass into a stadium that’s accepted free amounts to being compromised, and today I am writing to reassert that. No gifts, no favours, no lobbying, no free dining and wining, no cash, no kind, no pass, no trip, no holiday, no promise, no passes, no special treatment, no tall or short claims, no disrespect to the organization that you represent and the group that we are all a part of, no loose talk, no flexibility on values, will be accepted. If I hear of any, we will come down hard, and no exceptions will be made... 
Make no mistake, Arnab can hold his head high unlike most other journalist seen hobnobbing with someone representing corporate interests, illustrious ones, people one held in high esteem. But still Arnab, will you have to make an exception in the case of Navika? 

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