Larger the banner, greater the hypocrisy- Part 1

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There is lot of talk about Sunanda Pushkar’s death. No news channels have exact knowledge and reasons of her death but everyone has their own speculations and giving their own logics. Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in Room No. 345 of Leela Hotel on Friday evening. Her death comes within 48 hours of her going public about her husband’s alleged affair with a Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar, raising suspicions of suicide, although no suicide note was found from the unfortunate place. The tragic came to an end even Twitter was still buzzing about the public display of anger, betrayal and accusations involving Tharoor, Sunanda and Pakistani journalist. There were also reports of Sunanda talking of divorce, although she scotched the talk on Thursday. She rocked the social media constantly two long days and finally was found dead. Every senior journalist is claiming that she gave them call before the tragedy, she wanted to expose her hubby, but none of these journalists on the humanitarian grounds went to solace her knowing the level of her depression. The news has spread like fire in the Jungle.

This is not the first instance any politician’s wife was found dead or committed suicide. Earlier, Anuradha Bali alias Fiza Mohammad, the 39-year-old estranged second wife of former Haryana deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan, lived a controversial life, and her death was no different. Then Naina Sahni was the victim of Tandoor murder case. On 2 July 1995, she was killed by her husband Sushil Sharma, a Congress youth leader and MLA. Naina herself was a worker in the Congress party. Sushil Sharma was convicted for the murder by the Trial Court, Delhi High Court and then Supreme Court. On 8 October 2013, Sharma was awarded life imprisonment by the Supreme Court. Every time journalists came up with their own stories and accused got scot free or due to media pressure, the decisions went wrong, such as Nupur and Rajesh Talwars’ conviction.

In India sting operation is in fashion, Tehelka was popular just because of this act. Tarun Tejpal is the owner and Editor in Chief of the publication that’s the reason no one could question him or blame him for anything. However, if he would have been an employee or paid as an editor of the publication then he would have been out of the market. Today Tarun Tejpal is in jail under rape charges by his own employee and Tehelka distorted. Few years ago, India TV did sting operation on Shakti Kapoor and as viewers we enjoyed that rather objecting upon such trends.

Aaj Tak conducted sting operation on Pramod Muthalik, Asaram Bapu and many others like them, by violating all ethics and rules of journalism. But no one goes against them. News channels need TRPs and viewerships, which is only possible through controversy and scandals. If the editor bans such practices, then he would be accused for his inefficiency. However, if he does the sting operation and someone raises objections against it then the banner and owner put the blame on the editor and washes their hands off.

I understand the pain of Rebekah Brooks. Actually, it was not her fault it was the fault of her thankless job and position, she was holding in the newspaper. I am sure; every newspaper and news channel definitely possesses taped conversations of thousands of celebrities, politicians, sports stars and common people. For the simple reason, if the desk questions reporter about the conversation proof then they have to produce the records by default. Moreover, many times a source denies his statements, so one need to keep the proof. Rebekah Brooks is not the omission. I can understand why she had to fall on her own sword which she has sharpened for the interest of newspaper and its readers.

I have one personal story to tell. One day, my editorial team was too much tensed over lead story. The deadline was coming to an end. Then, I remembered Kumar Ketkar’s speech in a Rotary Club function at Dombivli where he had recalled a situation from the time when he was the Editor of Maharashtra Times. Kumar was revealing the other side of Journalism which said Bad news is a Good news; a compulsory virtue of journalism all over the world. And just then, Poonam Chambers collapsed. It was a huge sigh of relief as finally there was something worth a lead. War journalists, crime journalists and others strive for off-routine pictures and reports. Every journo aims for a Watergate; a life-turning event/scam. The class of journalists is reflected in the investigative journalism. There is equal scope for an investigative talent in all the beats of journalism. Press Freedom, liberty to write, investigative journalism, journalism of courage are terms that have been imposed upon us since ages.

The most hypocrite profession is journalism. One may recall Arun Shourie’s rise and fall in the Indian Express group. A layman remembers Mr. Shourie as a courageous journalist who exposed the cement scam of then Maharashtra CM Barrister A.R. Antulay. He then had to quit ‘Express’ as a prize for his courage.

The reality is entirely different. But this scam and consequences end the journey of Shourie as an editor. The policy of publishing is guided by the affiliations and interests of the managements. A journalist or an editor is merely a salesman. He can shoot only at the sweet will of the paymaster. Media is a business venture as clear as a profit-making organization which has to pay salaries in time.
It is a harsh reality that journalism as a profession is a paid job. What so chaotic about paid-journalism, when journalists at any level are doing a paid job? I feel, we must end the hypocrisy in the fourth-estate and come out with real ourselves telling the world that we are not Superman, but we are sales executives working on salaries and hidden perk. Here, I’m stopping myself and will continue tomorrow with other revelation. Till that time follow me on twitter @vaidehisachin.

Vaidehi

Group Editor at NBC Pvt. Ltd.
Vaidehi, is an investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical hacker, Philanthropist, Author and an inspiration to many. She is Group Editor of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 4 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi daily tabloid – Mee Mumbaikar, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges, dedicated to IT industry, Indian news to the world and shipping industry, respectively. Besides the business perspective, she is an Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.