Three journalists stealing cutlery while accompanying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee during an official tour to London have caused major embarrassment to India and tarnished the reputation of media. Media exercises freedom of speech and expression while reporting news and exposes politicians for any wrongdoings. On the other hand, whenever journalists indulge in unethical acts publication houses try to conceal their names. Why can’t these firms act responsibly by naming and shaming the guilty responsible for bringing disrepute to the nation? Instead of becoming the watchdog between leaders and public, media has lost its credibility as it is now being called as bazaru and prestittute? The media house should have taken strict action against erring journalists which would deter them from indulging in such acts in future. Journalist fraternity condemned the cutlery stealing incident and said that journalists have a moral responsibility while going overseas to cover news. They added that journalists are representing their country so they must refuse favours, special treatment while visiting foreign countries. Journalists also added that their counterparts should not commit burglary as it will only malign the reputation of other correspondents and media. As per reports the names of two journalists revealed include Senior Journalist Dipankar Nandi of Aajkal News, Deobash Bhattacharya of Anand Bajar Patrika – ABP NEWS.
Sneha Saha, Copy Editor and Reporter at India Today termed the burglary incident as a shameful act and expressed that it has put the entire media fraternity at stake. She said, “Being a journalist, we travel to places to cover events with the baggage of the media origination we are associated with, and incidents like this one, not only downgrades our own reputation but also the company’s name. This is no sign of being a responsible journalist. I’m definitely glad about the fact that the associate media origination has come forward to accept the journalist’s fault, but yes, I’m also up with the firm for not revealing the name of the journo responsible for this act.”
“Obviously because, this is a shameful incident and revealing the name of the journalist will definitely affect his/her career in the near future. But, in turn, we as a responsible journalist should keep in mind that masses look up to us – and if we perform acts as shameful as this one, this doesn’t just affect them but downgrades all fellow journalists as well,” she added.
London authorities had hosted dinner in grand luxury hotel where several politicians, industrialists and journalists from other nations were present. Initially, a senior reporter working with a renowned Bengali publication had stolen a set of desert spoons from the table. Later, other journalists too emulated this act. The entire incident was recorded in CCTV camera but journalists remained unaware about it. A journalist among the three used to regularly accompany Mamata Banerjee for overseas tours.
Soumya Chatterjee, Senior Staff Writer at TheNewsMinute said that this incident will have an adverse impact on the journalist fraternity. He said, “It’s a very shameful incident for every journalist working in India. This will hurt the image of the entire profession. The damage is irreversible. In any other incident, an accused is also named. Here the journalists were caught in CCTV. Hence, it is not a mere allegation, and their names should be revealed.”
K S Aditya Rao, Producer at BloombergQuint said, “Linking this issue as a shame for journalism would be incorrect, as this is an act of an individual. One journalist’s act can’t decide the fate of a media house. I believe that maximum action must be taken on the alleged offenders, if proven guilty, but dragging the entire organisation into this issue would tarnish goodwill of the company and other journalists too. Journalism is already going through a tough and transitional phase in India, such issues have to be kept away to save the goodwill of the profession.”
A security personnel asked the accused journalists to mend their ways as they returned the stolen items after getting embarrassed. A senior journalist nonetheless claimed that he had not stolen anything and began arguing with security officials. Later staff threatened to hand over him to police as he confessed to committing the crime after paying a penalty amount of 50 pounds.
Alakananda Bandopadhyay, Correspondent at International Business Times India said, “It’s a little hypocritical, to be honest, because this is no case of sympathy where personal details need to be withheld because of the sensitivity of the issue. If the person or the organisations are concerned with drawing unnecessary flack, they should have considered the possibility of getting caught before they decided to steal something as basic as silverware, just because it’s from London. These are probably elite journalists in question; if their common sense can dysfunction like that, wonder what ethical grounds they stand on.”