Journalists : From Brokers to Extortionists Degrading Journalism

The media should not use those arguments which are used by criminals. If you do bad then I will also do bad. I did wrong, because I wanted to get to the bottom of this. This is not journalism and the sorrowful thing is this : that the amount of degradation which has permeated the politics of India, the same amount of degradation has come in to journalism, but there are a few professions where the price of degradation has to be borne by the entire society. If a judge indulges in degradation then the very foundation of the country is shaken. In the same way if a doctor indulges in degradation then the foundations of the country become hollow, people lose their lives. If all this which we call degradation starts in the media, then it should be believed that all the components of the society would become free and would become so unbridled that they will nurture a dream of buying each of the individuals in this country.
I have a clear belief in the Zee News case that if the owners of Zee News knew about it, then they have done a very wrong thing. The Editor of Zee News, Sudhir Chaudhary, in the name of a sting operation, went to Naveen Jindal. Along with him there was the Zee TV business head. The question is this : does the editor himself go for a sting operation? If an editor goes to do a sting operation then he would have done a few such reports earlier which would had drawn the attention of the people. I cannot recall that Sudhir Chaudhary has done any such report earlier which is remembered by any of us. How did a business head become a journalist? If Sudhir Chaudhary has done a sting operation then there is a basic formula in a sting operation : that when you enter from then on your camera is switched on or the tape recorder is switched on. So whatever things are happening, all are recorded and without making any manipulation the entire footage is shown, only then it is believed that the sting operation is complete, otherwise the edited version or showing selective images is never right from the perspective of the principles of a journalist. But no footage even came in front here. Zee News for some time ran a campaign in which many stories related to Naveen Jindal came in front, from which it seemed that Zee News has made a big exposure. But Naveen Jindal by holding a press conference revealed things that came to be known by all. He showed the video with the editor and the Zee business head speaking to him. May be this was the reason that the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) made their investigation and took back the responsibilities given to Sudhir Chaudhury.

I have a clear belief in the Zee News case that if the owners of Zee News knew about it, then they have done a very wrong thing. The Editor of Zee News, Sudhir Chaudhary, in the name of a sting operation, went to Naveen Jindal. Along with him there was the Zee TV business head. The question is this : does the editor himself go for a sting operation? …How did a business head become a journalist?… this incident of Zee News has amplified our identity from a broker to that of someone who extorts money.

This is a troubling situation. It should not be expected of Naveen Jindal that he will not turn anything to his advantage, for his benefit, but this was a very good thing that Naveen Jindal did. The good thing that he did was this that if any journalist or editor went to talk with him then he recorded the entire conversation. It might be possible that he might have records of conversations of a few more journalists with him, but the amount that Sudhir Chaudhary asked for was a bit more than befitted his status. Whether it was asked in the form of an advertisement or in any other way. Now the only question which arises is whether the owners of Zee News had information about this incident or not. It looks like that the owners knew about this entire episode very well and Sudhir Chaudhury still keeping his place in Zee News indicates that all the owners and editors of Zee were involved in this incident. I believe this kind of journalism is wrong journalism. We journalists should have the courage to raise our hands against this type of journalism, but many of our colleagues will not take the courage to raise their hands, because they feel that if they do something then Zee News would become angry with them and later on if required they won’t get a job there. But, if you can keep your conscience on the shelf for a job, then I do not agree with this.
Naveen Jindal is an industrialist. Naveen Jindal got coal blocks, while he was a Member of the Parliament (MP) he earned money by influencing his own party, this investigation should be done first, but this investigation will not be done, because like Naveen Jindal there are many other people who are attached with the Congress or are the MP’s of the Congress, and all of them are involved in the Coal Scam. Their investigation will not be done. The question is : the role of journalist is believed to be like that of a Munsif and a judge in the society. People have faith in his written words. The common man takes the words written by him and the pictures shown on television as true reality. The way in which he takes the Shlokas written in the Gita as the truth, takes it as ideal, in the same way he believes in the things shown in our print media or electronic media or television news. Now if some people emerge from amongst us, who do sponsored journalism or do journalism of bribery or do such journalism which shakes the foundations of the society and that purity, which in its unwritten form is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy, which has the responsibility on it that it will keep an eye on the other three pillars, then if such people are born among us or the trend increases then we will abrogating that responsibility.
One thing should be understood in journalism that there it is nowhere written as such that somebody should stop a journalist from saying something. Those who are not journalists or who cannot call himself a journalist, if he stops anybody then people call him names him and proceed ahead, but when somebody stops him and says that I am a journalist then starting from the Prime Minister to an ordinary officer stops and listens to his words. This right is not there in written form anywhere, but society has given this unwritten right to journalists only. This means that the honour that has been given to journalists, the respect that has been given in our system, in our society, nobody has the right to make fun of this respect. Journalists also do not have that right, because if one person speaks of putting the prestige of the entire fraternity at stake or gambling with it, then there is no other person who is more worthy of contempt (‘ghatiya’) than him. With full responsibility and with full pride I oppose this type of journalism. I certainly do not have the belief that Sudhir Chaudhary or the owners of the Zee group are going to apologise, but they should ask for an apology from the country. They should ask for an apology because they have insulted journalism, on which the people of the country have faith like on the Gita and the Bible. And perhaps people in the future will look at journalists the way they look at brokers. I remember, my friend Vinod Dua by giving the example of two journalists had said that when we used to speak to somebody earlier, then people used to say that you are saying the right thing Vinodji, we will look inside ourselves, but after the names of two big journalists came in the 2G spectrum Vinod Dua said to me that when he spoke to a number of leaders then they said that Vinodji, take a look within yourself also, take a look at your fraternity also what type of people are there, what big brokers they are. Why do you raise your fingers at us? The pain of this is not just with Vinod Dua, all of us who do journalism with honesty have this pain. But this incident of Zee News has amplified our identity from a broker to that of someone who extorts money. This has made us persons who receive the money, who receive the money with threats. I might be using harsh words, but I am using them with this hope that Sudhir Chaudhary does not feel bad about this, the people of Zee News do not feel bad and if they feel bad then let them feel bad, because they have insulted the profession of journalism and journalism at least does not give them right to make this insult.

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