30 January 2009

Barkha Dutt vs Bloggers, Journalists vs Awards

It has been a while since I posted on this blog. It does not make sense to take time off from a busy day to write blog posts few will read, particularly because I don't write/carry gossip and more often than not, discuss strategic or professional issues more of interest to the serious pro. I am that boring!
But I decided to take note of two developments this week with just quick remarks. Being part of the profession and being an acquaintance of people in the thick of controversial events puts me in a strange situation: If I speak out, I am eating a fellow dog, and if I keep mum, I lose the fun of letting pass two significant events related to the issues this blog professes to peruse. So I walk a careful wedge here.

1) Barkha Dutt, arguably India's most popular English TV news anchor, has hit a fresh controversy, having elicited an apology from a blogger on grounds that he wrote defamatory stuff. No court case here, but a quick, grovelling apology. She must have been on the right side of law, or the guy probably was in no mood to fight.
But more interesting is the fact that this has raised the hackles of the blogger community, and on last call a new Facebook group has been formed accusing this icon of free TV of gagging critics (The last one formed to criticise her coverage of the 26/11 attacks had around 4,500 members)
What gives? What's going on?
I have clearly said before in this blog that bloggers are not above the law, and relevant media laws apply. So I am forced to defend Barkha on that ground. I have to tell my blogger friends to know their responsibility.
But discretion is the better part of legal valour and Barkha must know that large numbers of people criticising her is not something she can overlook or ignore in the age of democracy plus the Internet. Bloggers need to realise that freedom of speech is not freedom to break the law.
Sensitive use of language is at the heart of the issue.
But then, who cares for that anymore?

2) P. Sainath, venerable, prodding rural-sensitive journalist, who has won many an award for his moving accounts of farmer's plights and drought-hit areas, has turned down a Padma Shri --something fellow professionals including Barkha Dutt have accepted in the past. He says a government award reduces the credibility of the journo, or something to that effect. I do want to clap, though I may be making some foes in the process.
Honestly, journalism is more fun when the rich and the mighty squirm at you than smile at you. But then, that cannot be at the cost of responsible journalism, and sometimes, has financial consequences.
It is a thankless profession, I tell you!

1 comment:

Prasanth said...

What we need to understand is that all these guys are just for their needs and never take them by their face value. Barka has always been longing for limelight and she is a great actor and would give a run for their for all the bollywood super stars If she takes up films. They are paid brokers .