[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter Arnab Goswami’s resignation from Times Now, another senior journalist Barkha Dutt has resigned as a Consulting Editor of NDTV. According to reports, she is likely to start her own venture. She is one of the best journalists, surrounded by many controversies from her marriage to the affiliation to Kashmir, everything was hullabaloo. She is one of the journalists who are being trolled the most on social media. It’s very saddening to see the hatred for her by some section of the particular society. Fearless and ethical journalism has to be at the forefront of the fight against hatred, misinformation and lies. Nowadays, journalists are attacked by political parties’ supporters. Since 2014, media is coined with various terms and there is hardly any freedom allowed for press. However, journalists like Barkha Dutt, Ravish Kumar or Arnab Goswami have chosen to raise their voices than doing the slavery journalism.
She is one of the superb journalists, but things specifically relating to ‘Kashmir’ and the ‘Radia aspect’ which make people hesitate to congratulate her. She was very skilled at presenting what she wanted to present. In Radia issue, she was caught red handed though nothing was illegally done by her. There is no doubt that she is a presenter and conducts good interviews. NDTV greatly benefited from her immense contribution over the years. She was the face of the channel.
Dutt rose to prominence in journalism for her fearless coverage of Kargil war in 1999. She later became the face of NDTV’s programme “We The People”. She has won many national and international awards, including the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour. However, her stint with NDTV was also blemished by controversy as she figured in the polemics. The right wing trolls, spewed their venom on her but she stood firm, never faltered and never compromised in what she believed in.
Dutt was born in New Delhi to S.P. Dutt, an Air India official, and Prabha Dutt, who was a well-known journalist with the Hindustan Times. Dutt credits her journalistic skills to her mother, a pioneer among women journalists in India. Her younger sister, Bahar Dutt, is also a television journalist working for Network18 group. Dutt graduated from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi with a degree in English literature. She received a Master’s in Mass Communications from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She started her journalism career with NDTV and later rose to head the English news wing of the organisation. She also obtained a Master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, New York assisted by an Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation scholarship.
While covering the events of 2002 Gujarat violence, Dutt identified attackers and victims of a riot as “Hindus” and “Muslims” on television, flouting the guidelines of the Press Council of India. Varadarajan wrote that it was improper on part of Barkha Dutt to recognise a politically mobilised mob as “Hindus”. In the 2012 book, Corruption Free India: Fight to Finish, Yasir Hussain described Dutt as a “controversial” and a “pro Sonia Gandhi” journalist. Britta Ohm wrote in 2011 that Dutt has attracted “substantial criticism” over the past few years for her various aspects of her reporting. Ohm wrote that Dutt is criticised for “secular shrillness”, betraying the cause of Kashmiri Pandits, over-the-top nationalism in the reporting of Kargil conflict, and for soft-pedalling Hindutva.
Dutt was also criticised for her coverage of 2008 Mumbai attacks, during which she reported from Taj Palace Hotel and The Oberoi Trident. She was blamed for sensationalising the events, putting lives at risk and causing deaths by identifying on live television where the hotel guests might be located. Writing for the New York Times, Lydia Polgreen wrote that critics viewed Dutt and some other reporters as extremely “theatrical and melodramatic” in their coverage of the 2008 attacks.
In November 2010, the magazines OPEN and Outlook published transcripts of some telephone conversations between Niira Radia with some senior journalists, politicians, and corporates. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) announced that they had 5,851 recordings of phone conversations by Radia, some of which outline Radia’s attempts to broker deals in relation to the 2G spectrum sale. Dutt’s conversations with Radia were reported and the former became the face of the tapes scandal. On 30 November 2010, Dutt defended herself before a jury of her peers in a televised program on NDTV. Dutt apologised over the issue saying it was “an error of judgement” on her part, but said that she had not indulged in any wrongdoing. Magazine editor Hartosh Singh Bal said that Dutt’s role in the ‘Radia Tapes’ exposed the “institutional malaise” of the organization of which she was a part– “proximity of NDTV and Tehelka” are concerned, their closeness to the Congress is no secret. Dutt’s role in the Radia Tapes did not seem to point to an individual act but an institutional malaise.
A long journey with NDTV has come to a halt after her exit from there. A lady who is an institution in herself may have definite plans ahead; I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.
Inputs from various agencies
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