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An Orchestra Of Fools

An Orchestra Of Fools

December 05, 2010

Why the Indian media’s recent tryst with infamy shouldn’t bother us too much…

Much has been said in the past weeks about what is now better known in media circles as the ‘Radiagate controversy’. India’s top journalists caught allegedly lobbying for and brokering deals between political parties have come out with a multitude of clarifications, half hearted apologies and hedonistic TV debates, trying desperately to salvage their painstakingly built reputations as gatekeepers of this great democracy. Corrupt & seeped in scam, but great nonetheless.

In the online blogosphere there is a furore about the close nexus between politicians and journalists. In newsrooms fellow journalists are seen shaking heads, talking in hushed tones about what seems to them like the scandal of the century. Amongst cynics and the envious haven’t beens of the scribe tribe, the ‘I knew it would come out some day’ smirk can’t be missed. In fact such has been the impact of these revelations that a closed coterie of editors who conspicuously stayed away from escalating the crisis further, have come out in full force on various televised debates thrashing their peers, strident, smug and very dismissive of the shenanigans of their comrades.

To put it simply it’s become a case of crows eating crows. The media is getting cannibalistic!

In a shrill, opinionated and often sensational Indian media, this sounds scary. Imagine what they’d inflict upon themselves, when an error on part of others results in nothing less than a live studio trial? In this case, as one eminent editor noted, the journalist is the jury, judge and the accused.

While none of this augurs well for India’s reputation as a free country with a strong fourth estate, especially given the fact that the media continues to remain a vital force in uncovering scams & giving voice to the voiceless; it seems to me a bit ludicrous that we expect journalists to be detached from institutions of power, particularly at a time when the lines between PR, marketing & reportage are so quickly and knowingly blurring.

Can we continue to expect unbiased, gritty journalism to remain a certainty when our motives & vested interests are so radically at loggerheads with the whole concept of understanding truth?

Why not look at this entire issue a bit more pragmatically? Are we really interested in the reality anymore? We live in times where corporate interests are buying out minority stakes in the same business networks that are supposed to report their misdoings. Politicians are running 24*7 broadcast stations promoting their own interests and advertisers & the media are deeply engaged in this new-age barter system that defies every tenet of the journalistic rulebook.

We also live in an era where propaganda machines are on autopilot mode through a barrage of logos and brands and trademarks. So difficult has it become to distinguish real from fake that at a friend’s brilliantly orchestrated, almost movielike wedding recently I wondered whether it was cinema that mirrors reality or is it actually vice versa.

It is all a big charade. Let us accept it instead of acting all sanctimonious and moralistic about whether a journalist should engage in political lobbying or not. We are all in some way or the other endorsing lobbies and vested interests by being a part of the prevalent system.

Trust me, when money is at stake, decorum almost always, goes flying out of the window.


  • Anu
    08.12.10 12:00 PM
    Even people with moderate sensibilities know that you do not accept all what journalists say in India as sacrosanct. News is riddled with PR inputs and sensationalism. The actual news is mostly lost in the crowd.

    Having said that, I never (and many people I know) considered Barkha Dutt or Vir Sanghvi as "pillars of Indian journalism" but saw them as just the "face(s) of Indian journalism."
    It shouldn't come out as a shock that many journalists are actually sleeping with the enemy for money (like we Indians are no more shocked when a bribery scam or a sex scandal is exposed) but what is interesting is to see that these journalists believe they are above the law. What we need is accountability! and only then can we expect unbiased, gritty journalism to remain.
  • S.R.Ayyangar
    07.12.10 04:52 PM
    All said & done, do you want people to kill 'Consciousness' and 'Ethics'? If yes,
    let them not grill corrupts, organize symposiums like 'We the people' etc etc.
  • Nikhil
    07.12.10 12:02 PM
    @The Sorcerer - Isn't the entire concept of having a corporate media that caters to news propoganda from corporates a sham in itself? If there were real journalists...the Lehman Bros scam or subprime crisis would have been unearthed by journos...that didn't happen & that proves that they are all hand in glove!
  • The Sorcerer
    The Sorcerer
    06.12.10 10:06 PM
    A well-known (famous is over-rated) once said,"Media is a business, Journalism is not!".

    That being said, even reviews/previews are paid content. PR and the media folks are involved.

    I know the issue is small compared to this, but you might wanna check it out:

    Its sad writers sell themselves but at times they are pressured to do so. The way I see things, being a blogger and having a career not related to PR and media helps.
  • arpana
    06.12.10 06:58 PM
    just hope a little more out of these revelations.
  • nalini hebbar
    nalini hebbar
    06.12.10 11:08 AM
    The expose' is welcome...maybe the baby steps towards a more accountable society are being taken now...people in power should shit bricks just thinking about the consequence of their illegal actions at all times
  • well
    06.12.10 12:00 AM
    Well, the BBC aren't perfect either. Their coverage of the Commonwelath Games was blatantly anti-Indian and negative. They took every possible opportunity to criticize and undermine what actually turned out to be quite a successful Games. They of course found it very hard to acknowledge that.
  • Anisha
    05.12.10 11:21 PM
    So you think what Barkha Dutt or Vir Sanghvi did was the right thing to do? It is impossible to not be shocked at these revelations. The worst part is the fact that these people are considered the pillars of Indian moderate media. It is like the BBC top presenters being found lobbying for Labour.

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