Thursday, December 24, 2009

To, The Editors Guild of India

The President
Editors Guild of India


I rise to the call of the Editors Guild that "urged all stakeholders to join this endeavour to push for a clean and transparent media." I am glad that you decided to make 2010 as an year of campaigning against paid news scandal. While I don't mind waiting for the results of this campaign (given the fact that we wait for longer times to get normal justice delivered in this country), I have some particular questions in my mind right now.

1. Can you also have public forums in various cities wherein the ethics committee can directly take suggestions/complaints from the general public?
2. If I have a grouse against a particular editor/newspaper (based on content, not personal ;-) ), can I approach the Editors Guild?
3. How do I exactly contact the Editors Guild?

P. Sainath in his expose
here, clearly states that Lokmat, Maharashtra Times and Pudhari have published the same report in all three newspapers. Vir Sanghvi openly berates Delhi Times and Bombay Times in his article here.

4. Were these editors also part of this meeting?
5. The statement by the guild says both the media organisation buying and the guy selling are guilty. From Sainath's piece, I infer that Ashok Chavan, Lokmat, Maharashtra Times and Pudhari are guilty. From Vir Sanghvi's piece, I infer that DT and BT are guilty. Why is the editors guild shying away from naming these people?
6. Why can't this report be made a good starting point for some immediate action instead of dilly dallying on framing some code of conduct?
7. How much binding is the code of conduct on all editors of this country? What if someone does not adhere to it? I hope we dont just stop at just issuing show cause notices like the EC does!
8. "In the coming months, the Guild plans to work with other media organisations to sensitise the media and civil society – including political parties and the Election Commission – on the need to eliminate this “unacceptable practice.” " How exactly are we going to sensitize political parties not to buy news? Political parties, in conjuction with media are killing journalism, and instead of calling for stricter norms, we are being content with trying to "sensitize" them?
9. Also sir, the media propaganda of AP is as worst as it can get. Can the editors guild please take note of this too.

It is with disappointment that I read Sainath's recent articles (
1, 2, 3) wherein he clearly exposed the ugly dealings of many newspapers in Maharashtra. The usually alert media, which takes no time in claiming an exclusive corruption scandals of leaders and officers, finds this news not worthy of fitting in the "breaking news" slot. The news died in just one day. Theres absolute silence since then till yesterday when the editor's guild released a statement condemning the "pernicious practice of publishing paid news". Mere condemnation, sir, has become a fashion in our country (as we so often see). In the coming months, we hope to see that the national media can highlight corruption amongst its ilk with the same fervour that it exposes other scams.

Vir Sanghvi might think that we don't care, but clearly we do.


Jiggs said...

Bandhu...should you get a reply and you deem it fit to start a signature campaign, just tell me, I will join you.

Superb piece.

What's in a name? said...

Very well said.
Resend the mail - but this time with a couple of CCs. My gut is, you will get a acknowledgement.
It might make sense to CC it to some of the people in the ethics committe.
Madhu Kishwar, T N Ninan etc. (I don't have their mail IDs).
My mail I CC'd to the editor of thehoot.
The reply I got was four words. Not much but an acknowledgement.
If you agree with jiggs - there should be a signature campaign on twitter (I think there is a petition site that has an API with twitter). We will have to crunch the letter.
My hunch is that the editor's guild is paying lip service. Collectively we can either call their bluff OR force them into concrete action.

Sudhir said...

Thanks for the comment AB. I followed the link on your site and sent a mail directly to Rajdeep and Sachi. Their editors guild ID's dont work :) I got a reply from Rajdeep..thanking for the mail, and saying he was ready to listen to specific comments/suggestions. U got the same mail? ;-)

Have been regularly asking Rajdeep on twitter too. He talked about some steps..

I am thinking more on the lines of giving them some more time to respond to specific suggestions... and then systematically call their bluff. I am totally with you - we have to make sure they take concrete actions. If it fails, we start a campaign to call their bluff.

- Sudhir

What's in a name? said...

Sounds like a plan. Let me work on a preliminary draft of a petition. Give me a day or two. I will send it to you and you can make additions/deletion. We can then figure out the best way to push it to a larger audience.
In solidarity

Sudhir said...

Sure can send it to my gmail account.

- Sudhir

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