Indian Media: Why journalists hate trolls

Pagal Patrakar (in his blog – http://blog.fakingnews.com) writes without any screaming and shouting in plain English and without any intellectual nonsense or any stern voice and constipated faces either, about how journalists thinks that it is their duty, as a journalist, to show “mirror to the society” and not let anyone show the the mirror:

..For them(journalists) , a troll is anyone who is not following the rules and decorum of a civilized communication, and who argues without showing much respect to logic.

At this point of time, some of the top journalists leading the crusade against trolls would claim that their objection is only to the abusive and hateful trolls. I have reasons to believe that this is just an excuse.

The thought process (no lateral thinking involved here) behind creating such a list is rooted in a journalist’s arrogated right to frame rules and decorum for a public debate…..However, more than the anarchic nature of Twitter (and much of the virtual world) and a public display of love towards civilized discourse, a journalist’s problem with Twitter arises from the fact that traditional journalism is ill-conceived to allow and incorporate feedback and criticism.

……..I’ve been a (television) journalist myself (in pre-Facebook and pre-Twitter era) and don’t remember a single editorial meeting that was called in to discuss feedback. In fact, there was no mechanism to collect public feedback at all.

The only ‘feedback’ that we were responding to was weekly TRPs. There were weekly meetings to analyze what type of program gathered the highest TRP and how to repeat the “success”. And I guess things haven’t changed much since then.

Most of what is being dismissed as trolling by journalists (not all of them, I must admit; many of them are doing really good on Twitter) are actually instant and angry feedback by their ‘consumers’.

Traditional journalism, as an institution, has always seen itself as ‘giving feedback’ to the society and hasn’t thought it necessary to ‘take feedback’.

I remember Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta’s interview with Star News (now ABP News) after the coup-story controversy where he claimed that a member of Team Anna (most probably Arvind Kejriwal) had asked him whether Indian Express took feedback from the readers on what it publishes (Express had published a string of stories ‘exposing’ Team Anna before).

Shekhar Gupta thought that the suggestion (about taking feedback) was irrelevant as it was his duty, as a journalist, to show “mirror to the society” (his words) and not let anyone show him the mirror (my words).

A bulk of the problems of journalists with Twitter is rooted in this nature of journalism, where feedback is not deemed necessary, in fact, it’s seen as an unpleasant development, something they happily dismiss as trolling.

Read the full post : Why journalists hate trolls

Advertisements

Shekhar Gupta should be “more tolerant about what was written and drawn about them”

Aakar Patel, a director of Hill Road Media & a former newspaper editor, having worked with the Bhaskar Group and Mid Day Multimedia Ltd. writes in his column titled ‘Why Shekhar Gupta is right to be angry, but wrong to sue’ in Firstpost:

My friend Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of Indian Express wants Rs 100 crore from another editor-in-chief, Outlook’s Vinod Mehta.

Gupta claims he was defamed by Mehta, who said in an interview to Open magazine that an Express report published earlier this year was “the mother of all mistakes” and specifically written to damage India’s army chief VK Singh. This is the background to Vinod Mehta’s comments.

The report carried Gupta’s own byline, which was unusual. It claimed the Indian government was “spooked” when it learnt on 16 January that certain army units were moving towards Delhi on the same night as the Supreme Court was hearing a petition by the army chief on his age.

….But this was brushed off and the Indian Express was attacked as being irresponsible. I don’t think that charge is true, and I rate the Express under Gupta as one of India’s three best newspapers.

….What puzzles me is why he is also suing the magazine which carried Vinod Mehta’s interview. There a reporter and editor did their job fairly and accurately. The reporter Hartosh Singh Bal doesn’t egg Mehta on, he is balanced and questions whether it’s fair to say what he does.

Also, quite funnily, Gupta sent his legal notice in the same week his newspaper lectured parliamentarians on being more tolerant about what was written and drawn about them.

I think Gupta was hurt by the collective accusation against him and his paper and reacted angrily to Mehta’s comments, which I accept were unfair and extreme.

I hope Gupta takes no further action on the notice and does what he excels at: editing India’s only reporter-run newspaper.

Read the full column: ‘Why Shekhar Gupta is right to be angry, but wrong to sue’ in Firstpost

India’s 1st 500 crore defamation case to/fro Media: Will it be free-for-all now ??

In MXM India, Pradyuman Maheshwari and Shruti Pushkarna takes quotes from some senior journalists of India about the first every defamation case filed by a Media against another Media in India.

 On April 4, The Indian Express carried a story by editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta with Ritu Sarin and Pranab Dhal Samanta on two key army units moving towards New Delhi without informing the government. Ajmer Singh contributed to the report.There was outrage and denials issued by all and sundry in the government and armed forces. However, save the outbursts, it wasn’t proven that the Express story was incorrect.

…..Those in print may have been a lot more gentle, but a few television discussions were indeed scathing. And then came this interview with Outlook’s editorial President (and former editor-in-chief) Vinod Mehta in newsmag Open on the issue. The headline of the interview said it all: The Mother of All Mistakes (issue dated April 21, 2012). In his inimitable style, Mr Mehta suggested that Mr Gupta was taken in by a story that was planted on the Express.

…The notice asks for an apology and pulling the story off Open’s internet edition openthemagazine.com. At the time of filing this report, Open hasn’t done either and two senior staffers told MxMIndia that the magazine does not intend to do either.

The notice also demands damages of Rs 100 crore each to the lawyer’s clients. That’s five of them – the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, Ritu Sarin, Pranab Dhal Samanta and Ajmer Singh. The Rs 500 crore damages have to be paid regardless of the apology.

MxMIndia asked a few senior editors for their views on the issue. While many of them did not want to be drawn into the controversy, there were a few who told us that they didn’t know enough of the matter to be able to comment.

Our questions were: Is the media too sensitive to criticism? Just as the Express, Shekhar Gupta & Co sent a legal notice to Open and Vinod Mehta, can governments, politicians, businesspersons and even film-makers who are critiqued by the media also send notices and ask for crores as damages?

Here are reactions from four veteran commentators:

Dileep Padgaonkar, former editor-in-chief, The Times of India:

…As it is, the censorship of cartoons was a dismal warning of the sensitivity of the political establishment. Now if media is going to go at another section of media, there is going to be a free-for-all and the big casualty out here would be good, decent, honest journalism.

 

Sevanti Ninan, editor, The Hoot, columnist and media-watcher:

….You are saying the chief editor and his colleague are susceptible to plants, thereby seriously questioning their credibility. So I guess the Express could hardly ignore it. IE did come in for a lot of criticism on the import of the story and the display given, including a critical editorial in the Hindu but nothing quite as damning as Mehta’s statements.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, independent journalist and commentator:

I think The Indian Express has over reacted. I think it’s gone a little over the top. … my personal view is that it’s a point of view which obviously the Express doesn’t agree with but I don’t think that what Mr Mehta has said can be construed to be criminally defamatory. …I mean these are ridiculous sums of money. I think we’ve become an extremely intolerant society. ….I think even sections of the media are becoming extremely intolerant of criticism. If you are in a democracy, you have to give the right to everybody to disagree with you.

Sucheta Dalal, senior journalist and commentator, consulting editor, Moneylife:

… It’s the first time that somebody in the media is suing another person in the media, we need to look at how it goes… Otherwise the notice is also a way of making a point, it’s a way of putting pressure. It’s not just Vinod Mehta, if he looks at what was said about that story on the social media, then there are a lot more people that they would probably need to sue. So maybe he is making a case out of Vinod Mehta and Open magazine, we need to see whether they follow through. I would say that the test is not in the legal notice, the test is in seeing whether they are actually going to follow through, stand in court and argue it out.

Read the full feature in MXM India: Apology + Rs 500cr: Is Indian Express right in sending Open a legal notice?

India’s Worst Journalists – 2012 by Media Crooks Ravinar !!!

  Me, Myself & I….Barkha Dutt

For the second time in a row Barkha retains her position as India’s worst journalist in the poll, by a whopping margin.

POLL – INDIA’S WORST JOURNALISTS – 2012

Arnab Goswami
  302 (32%)
Ashutosh (IBN7)
  181 (19%)
Barkha Dutt
  705 (75%)
Karan Thapar
  350 (37%)
Kumar Ketkar
  268 (28%)
  247 (26%)
Nikhil Wagle
  237 (25%)
  163 (17%)
  436 (46%)
  540 (57%)
  419 (44%)
Shiv Aroor
  142 (15%)
Sonia Singh
  195 (20%)
Vinod Sharma
  414 (44%)
Vir Sanghvi
  333 (35%)
The previous edition of India’s Worst Journalist in 2010 on this site (Media Crooks)  still remains one of the most popular posts and also a very widely reproduced one. Over the last decade or so our journalists have come to be held in the same contempt that is usually reserved for politicians. Many of them have simply forgotten the art and science of the profession and this is a serious tragedy for aspiring journalists. How they came to such a pass is a long story. The most prominent ones are not even journalists anymore; they are ‘Editorialists’ whose main job is to swing public opinion one way or another. Add to this the epidemic of ‘paidnews’ and some of our news channels and newspapers would be nothing more than Bollywood or Commercials. After all, didn’t the late Christopher Hitchens say: “I became a journalist because one didn’t have to specialise”.

Some prominent faces from the 2010 roll of honour have dropped out. Vinod Mehta has retired from active journalism and remains Chairman of Outlook. We wish him well. Suzy Roy has moved from part-time lie-mongering to full-time Maoist-Hurriyat sympathiser. ‘Pastiwalas’ are over-joyed at the ever growing size and weight of her 50+ page essays – they’re the only ones handling them now.Prannoy Roy was also dropped. He is now more into barbeque chats than any serious attempts at journalism. Even elections don’t arouse him. But there are some new faces with the old ones. Polling for IWJ ended today and thanks to all those who voted. So here are the winners from the poll, the list of India’s Worst Journalists-2012 from the poll results. Their 2010 ranking is indicated after their name:
10. Large & Larger..Nidhi Razdan, NDTV (New entry): She has come to prominence more for many reasons other than journalistic skills. ‘Left, right, centre’ is her signature programme and happens to be one of those mindless debates on every topic under the sun. She is proof that you can be an expert on everything with specialisation in nothing. The best part of Nidhi? Now, don’t get me wrong, she likes everything large. Whenever confounded by a brilliant argument or point by a panellist she quickly jumps to her favourite line “let’s look at the LARGER picture”. One would have thought that debates are meant to look at the finer small details. No, not with Nidhi, the larger picture is a convenient exit. Training from NDTV helps. My prediction for this debutant is that she is likely to go higher up in the list in the future.

9. Friendly five member…Kumar Ketkar (New entry): Somewhere a brief bio about Ketkar says “He started his life as an active communist worker of the Lal Nishan Paksh (Red flag party)”. Now why is that not so surprising? And that also explains Ketkar somewhat. He is also reported to be a former speech writer during elections for Congress members. Isn’t that an accomplishment any journalist would be proud of? He has been mostly a Marathi journalist and last heard he is editor of Divya Marathi. A respected veteran, he was one of the privileged Five invited to a private press meet of PM Manmohan Singh around June 2011. Ever since, it has been downhill. He achieved his right to be on this list through his performances as a panellist. What can I say? I hope being a veteran he doesn’t appear here in the future.

8. Your Banal…Arnab Goswami, TimesNow (2010 #3): There can be no denying that Arnab is one of the rare patriots among journalists. Almost every one wishes our judiciary could be as quick and decisive as Arnab is. Which is the reason I conferred him the title ‘Justice Arnab’. His performance on TimesNow has definitely battered ratings of NDTV and CNN-IBN. Pick up any scam, any scandal Arnab can throw the documents at you. IB, RAW, GOI have no escape – all documents and papers have to pass through Arnab. Sometime back I remarked: Most of us wake up in the morning and want Coffee or Tea! Not Arnab, he just wants ‘answers’. Such are the never-ending questions he has. Much before Arnab became a journalist the rock band U2 wrote a song for him – “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”. They were the only ones to anticipate all the unanswered questions he’d come up with. Undeniable fact is that Arnab has dropped from #3 in 2010 to #8 in 2012 on this list. That is proof of his ever-growing popularity. He can out-shout anyone in this world. Anyone, except Meenakshi Lekhi and Smriti Irani.

7. Fine WhINES…Vir Sanghvi
 (2010 #9): I honestly don’t have any idea whatsoever what Sanghvi currently does. I don’t even see him on any Cookery or Foodie show. He must be doing something to merit an appearance on this list again, at a higher position even. Radiagate has damaged him far more than any other journalist, which is unfortunate. He managed to surface sometime back on his home channel NDTV claiming the Radia tapes were doctored and weren’t authentic and were tested by reliable foreign forensic labs. Nobody bought that though. Sometimes, a wayward journalist, at his peak, forgets simple decency. Sanghvi will forever be haunted with two things: Radiagate and the fact that he called Narendra Modi a ‘mass-murderer’. He will regret both episodes. Had it not been for Modi ignoring his stupid outburst Vir Sanghvi would have been in prison writing a cookery book or his autobiography titled “Fine Whines!”.

6. No facts, please….Karan Thapar (2010 #4): Readers must remember that every journo looks tall in the studio but not in actual life. KT is not blessed with stature and the same goes for his journalism. One can say he has improved a bit but still retains the unwanted scowl and growl when interviewing people. Madhu Trehan in her NewsLaundryinterview showed up KT for the little puppy he was. Like the ones who just need a hug and a cuddle once in a while. And if you thought you knew nothing about KT, never mind. All you have to do is hear his signature line on his promo for his show on CNN-IBN: “I don’t want to go into the facts, the facts are disputed”. LOL! Facts are disputed? You have to undo a lot of learning to understand that facts aren’t factsand can be disputed. The worst job KT did in 2011 was massaging Kapil Sibal’s brazen attempt at pre-screening content on the internet. As if that wasn’t enough he pulled out Brajesh Mishra, former NSA, out of nowhere to call serving army chief, Gen. VKSingh, the worst ever chief of army in history. My prediction: As long as he is in the business, KT will be on this list.

5. Wheres the smirk?….Vinod Sharma (New entry): For those who don’t know, Vinod Sharma is the political editor of Hindustan Times. That’s right, ‘Political’ is the key word – less of an editor and more of a politician. It’s not very hard to recognise VS on a friendly channel. He has made the ‘smirk’ more popular than child-molester DGP Rathore on television. Sharma has also been acknowledged by many political spokespersons and viewers as the most loyal spokesperson of the Congress party. No matter what the scam or what the scandal you can expect him to staunchly defend even the worst misdeeds of the Congress by blaming it on the opposition or anyone else he can lay his hands on. The one chance to get him off TV for longer periods was a Rajya Sabha ticket, when Shobana Bhartiya, his boss at HT exited, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. So we’re going to be stuck with VS for quite a while. His best moment in recent times was during the debate over Gen. VK Singh and the Tatra trucks scam. He was angry that the debate was going one way (in favour of Gen. Singh) so had to somehow twist it against the tide. In his business time VS writes a blog titled ‘Separated at birth’. I guess that refers to some Pakistani connection or maybe his journalistic independence was separated at birth. Someday we’ll find out.

4. He’s no Egghead…Shekhar Gupta (2010 #10): When he appeared on the last list, a fan of Gupta wrote in stating he will email my post to SG for his response. I was wondering whether that fan objected to SG being at #10 and wanted him to be lower on the list. I guess that fan’s prayers are answered. SG has sunk further in the rankings and his Indian Express is almost on doles from the govt. His senseless programme ‘Walk the talk’ , the equivalent of ‘Koffee with Karan’ or ‘On the couch with Koel’, continues on NDTV but what sunk SG the most is his misadventure with an article on Army troop movements. In his quest to please SG’s UPA, this SG splashed a headline in IE that nearly implied the army, led by Gen.VK Singh, may have dreamt of a coup. Worse, there have been reports that the troop movement story was stale and SG’s version was actually a plant by a union minister. SG laid an egg alright but ended up with more on his face. He will forever be credited with reducing a fiercely independent newspaper like IE to a mouthpiece of a political party. His permanent place on this list is forever assured.

3. I washed my hands in the Hammam…..Rajdeep Sardesai (2010 #6): Hmmm! The guy is making progress alright. I have always maintained there are two Rajdeeps – One on TV and one off it. Whenever he is off TV his conscience strikes and one can hear a sane person, sometimes profound, sometimes emotional. But his character loses focus in front of the camera. Recently, he lamented on Twitter about being abused as a’Muslim whore and a Motherf$#!#*’. Bad, but the kind of abuse of journalistic ethics that Rajdeep has frequently allowed under his watch is far more serious. He has even given the media the right to ‘conduct hearings’ against personalities. While he wonders about ‘image makeovers’ for others, there is no way he can ever get past the Cash4Votes bungling or the terribly biased reporting on Gujarat riots. His 2007 conduct of an HT Summit which featured a key speaker reflects a character of pathetically low moral values and journalistic ethics. And to top that he defended the tainted Radiagate journalists and was rightly ‘slapped’ by his own community. Death of decent journalism owes a small debt to him. He has rightly earned the nick name ‘Hammamboy’!

2. If it’s Friday, it must be…Sagarika Ghose (2010 #2): Ms. Cacofonixstays where she was: at No.2. You can’t fault Sagarika for not trying hard enough to be India’s worst journalist. She has made every effort in the recent past to get to #1. Journalism gives her a bad name. For her truly pathetic and fraudulent ‘live’ show with SriSri she would have been sacked from any TV channel in the world. That in itself is a reflection of the ethics and morals practiced at CNN-IBN by her and her boss Rajdeep Sardesai. You can imagine the skulduggery behind all other programmes and debates. And if that wasn’t enough she misses no chance to prove she is a ‘journalistic bimbo’ by mindless tweets on the social network. Be it about ‘ugly Indian males’, or Orange being a colour in our national flag or sending out a Good Friday greeting and withdrawing it she is truly the court-jester of Indian journalism. What can I say? Better luck next time!

1. Me, Myself & I….Barkha Dutt (2010 #1): For the second time in a row Barkha retains her position as India’s worst journalist in the poll, by a whopping margin. The only road to redemption is apologising for past blunders. While she and another one have been vocal in demanding apologies and expressions of remorse from public figures the same standard doesn’t seem to apply to her. No matter what she does the taint of Radiagateand many other indiscretions are unlikely to disappear. The accusations of causing deaths in Kargil or in 26/11 are also going to linger.  She is probably the only news celeb on TV that has a ‘wardrobe sponsor’. All the image makeovers may not help much. Most of us have held Rahul Gandhi for the Congress’ UP election disaster but Barkha and NDTV must be credited with the disaster too. No one has singularly promoted RG and his cause and almost turned him into India’s saviour till the engine got derailed. Her penchant for Pakistani politics and politicians is another thing that disgusts many viewers. In the meantime her language keeps getting better and better. In a recent tweet she responded to sarcasm with: “… ‘Nazi Dogs’ .. if ever language betrayed desperation of loser, it is here…” Losers or not, with over 70% of the votes polled, Barkha is the absolute winner here. Cheers!
So there you are. Let’s also not forget that are many journalists who now increasingly seem to be anti-nationals. Their ties to Ghulam Nabi Fai aren’t even being investigated by the govt. Industry leaders usually raise the standards of performance of the industry as a whole. The opposite seems to be true in the media. Systematically, many of India’s journalists have brought the profession to rock bottom over the years. I continue to maintain, they are the greatest threat to our democracy.
(Courtesy: Ravinar at Media Crooks.com)

 Parting Shot:

April 10 – The Day News Media Died

In ever loving memory of the conscience and careers of:

Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Harsh Mandar, Mallika Sarabhai, Mukul Sinha, Sanjeev Bhatt, Nidhi Rasdan, Sagarika Ghose, Praful Bidwai, Javed Anand, Javed Akhtar, Manish Tewari, Prannoy Roy, Vir Sanghvi, Vinod Sharma, Cedric Prakash, Hosbet Suresh, Arnab Goswami, Dipak Parasher, Ashutosh, Nikhil Wagle, Kumar Ketkar, Rahul Sharma, Sreekumar, Karan Thapar, Shoma Chaudhary, Ashish Khetan, John Dayal.. And Many More Nameless Faces
Never has there been a prolonged campaign of calumny against a single individual as the one carried out by our media and certain sponsored activists. All of that came to an end on April 10. The report of the Special Investigation Team(SIT) finally established there was no evidence that Narendra Modi was involved in the Gujarat riots of 2002. The decade long campaign of evil finally died a gruesome death. Some of the most prominent names in the media also died a symbolic death. We remember those names and many more and pray that in the death of the news media there will be newer ones who will find their conscience.
(Courtesy: Ravinar at Media Crooks.com)