December 3, 2010

It’s totally ethical of media houses and journalists to lobby

Arindam Chaudhuri argues why the Radia tapes prove nothing and why Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi remain two of India’s best journalists

When Barack Obama was running for the US presidency, the common joke in America was that win or lose, Obama was sure to get a job with MSNBC! And when he won, the joke was that “all the channels declared Barack Obama as the US President at 11 in the night; MSNBC declared him the winner six months back.” That’s representative of how blatantly MSNBC had lobbied to make Obama the US President. And every media house with an ideology and conviction does so. Yes, that’s the job of media houses and of journalists with character, ideology and convictions.

Wake up to reality, my friends! In UK and USA elections, newspapers rally behind individual parties till the very end – openly. And it’s not because the party owns the media house. During the very next elections, the media houses could support the opposition. That’s how it is in all true democracies where media doesn’t fear a backlash if the party they don’t support comes to power. India is, of course, not a democracy. Behind the illusion of democracy, demons – almost one and all – rule this country, making it a unique “demonocracy”. What the government of India does is that they create cases similar to what they did with Tehelka, and makes it clear that if you try to expose the government, they will get back at you. So, before elections, Indian media – one and all (unless in regional cases where parties themselves own media) – is always polite about the ruling party even if they per se support the opposition. And this, because they fear that in case the ruling party returns post elections, they’ll have to face the music! Even the largest media house, the Times of India, has not been spared in the past, with Ashok Jain being harassed to his literal death with cases being fabricated against him for trying to act smart with the government! Compare this with the nine page special feature that The Sun ran in 1992 on the day UK elections with the headlines commenting, “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights?”

In 2010, while the Daily Mirror remained loyal to the Labour Party, The Sun withdrew its support for Labour – and Labour lost the elections. When Gordon Brown had shrugged off The Sun’s decision saying that The Sun doesn’t decide who wins the elections but voters do, the front page of The Sun next day read, “Labour’s lost it!” The Guardian and its Sunday sister paper, The Observer, were backing the Liberal Democrats, with the former saying it supported their stance on electoral reform. The Times and The Sunday Times had switched support to the Conservatives, and had said that David Cameron was ready to govern. That’s how Western media lobbies.

And it’s not just media houses, even individual journalists lobby depending on their convictions. Whether they are right or wrong is a totally different story – and that’s why different media houses exist, so that the public gets both sides of the story. For instance, Glenn Beck, the maverick rightwing superstar of Fox News, has even compared the Republicans’ difficulties with their own disaffected core supporters by comparing the party to a recovering alcoholic.

Before I come back to media and journalists, let’s talk about lobbying as an industry and worldwide practices!

When US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton introduced Richard Holbrooke as the special envoy for South Asia, both were expected to spout fire on Pakistan on the terrorism issue, and consequently, also were necessarily supposed to mention India and the Kashmir issue in their most important introductory press briefs in 2009. But India didn’t want the Kashmir issue to be discussed by Holbrooke, especially on the same platform as a discussion on Pakistan. Clearly, Indian government’s lobbying prowess won that day as India and Kashmir were as absent from Hillary and Holbrooke’s well decorated press briefs as a live turkey from the White House. According to Center for Congressional and Presidential studies, America spent around $2.13 billion on lobbying in 2004 alone; there currently are as many as 150,000 people involved in the industry. And the characteristic, if you can call it that, is not limited to corporations. The Center for Public Integrity reveals that over 300 universities have spent over $132 million in the last six years while 1,400 local governments have spent $357 million to seek favours from the government. Europe witnessed the emergence of lobbying as early as 1979 during the first European parliamentary election. In Brussels alone, there are 1,400 lobbyists and over 2,600 ‘special interest groups’.

In no unclear terms, lobbying is a legal and ethical business. The legal lobbying industry in UK is estimated to be worth $1.9 billion, employing over 14,000 people – in fact, a few MPs are often approached (read ‘physically spammed’) more than a hundred times per week by lobbyists. Researches show that Israel obtained popular US support in over 55% of ‘issues’ while Arabs or Palestinians have achieved support in less than 10% in the last 40 years, especially due to strong lobbying by Israeli think-tanks, activist organizations etc.

It is due to lobbying that notorious President Omar Bongo of the Gabon, who is criticised for committing some of the worst human rights violations in history, had a successful meeting with Bush. It is claimed that Bongo paid $9 million to Jack Abramoff, a famous lobbyist, to ‘fix’ the meeting. Since 2004, Equatorial Guinea have paid Cassidy and Associates – a government-relations firm – around $120,000 per month to create the right public image for itself and to win audience with American leaders. The result was that in May 2007, US officials, who would have never talked about their relationship with Guinea, saw Condoleezza Rice standing before a pack of reporters with one of Africa's most appalling dictators – Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – by her side and addressing him as a ‘good friend’.

Hill & Knowlton, a lobbying firm, has had particular success in marketing the Gulf War and the Iraq War to the American people; while Sudan, famous for genocide, spent $530,000 to create an image that it was cooperating on the war on terrorism. It took three PR firms for Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev to make Bush announce that Aliyev “understands that democracy is the wave of the future”.

Developed nations like Russia and China are as embellished! Russia paid lobbying firm Ketchum $2.9 million (from August 2008 to January 2009). The firm secured a CNN interview for Vladimir Putin and facilitated Putin becoming TIME Magazine's “Person of the Year” for 2007. In 2005, China – to facilitate the China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) bid for Unocal – spent approximately $3 million to employ six US lobbying firms, which reportedly contacted US Congressmen and state representatives more than 250 times over a period of eight days.

The US capital alone is supposed to have around 20,000 registered lobbyists. So, when Malaysia intended to refurbish its tainted image, the then controversial PM Mahathir Mohamed paid $1.2 million to get a date with Bush. Pakistan spent $1.1 million in 2008 on lobbying for gaining trade support. India is also not behind in the league, paying almost $2.5 million to the famous lobbying firm BGR and $291,665 to Patton Boggs for influencing the nuclear deal.

Having given this background, let me now come to the recent cover stories of two magazines! Well, the truth is that these tapes were in the market in possession of most magazines and media houses for months now! Why didn’t anyone write about the same earlier? The answer is that they were afraid to offend the Congress in our system of ‘demonocracy’. The moment Congress fired Raja, all the bravery came rushing out! But did it serve any purpose whatsoever? The scam is totally nothing about what the tapes reveal. Well, the Supreme Court itself has questioned what the Prime Minister was doing all this while? One has to be living in a fool’s paradise to believe that the government didn’t gain out of all this. Or did they just wake up one fine morning!? However, the tapes have helped the government in one way indeed. The tapes have diverted attention from the real scam and the media is now busy discussing ‘RadiaGate’, as it’s being stupidly termed!

Nira Radia is a lobbyist by profession. Like a lawyer, it’s her duty to fight for her clients’ interests. If you are a lobbyist, you generally don’t have conversations with the local vegetable vendors on the phone. The only conversations will be with your clients and those who can influence decision making, viz bureaucrats, politicians and powerful media personalities. That’s why PR firms exist. In fact, The Times of India, fed up with PR firms trying to plant their clients in their Delhi/Bombay Times supplements, decided to convert these into “advertorial and features supplements” – as written clearly below the mastheads of these supplements – and do away with PR menace from the peepshow supplements of theirs, meant primarily to titillate and increase young readers. Nira Radia was only doing her job and if her phones were tapped, it was for income tax reasons etc, which should have been necessarily kept confidential. It’s absolutely criminal if private conversations tapped for official reasons have this kind of risk of getting into public domain; and Ratan Tata must take it up seriously and make the courts find out who was really responsible for these leaks, so that such cases don’t happen again. And in a country where the rich are more privileged to get justice, he has all the means to keep a battery of lawyers and win it for every individual in this country wishing to exercise the right to privacy.

Finally, let me come to the bigger issue that I started off with, that of the role of media and journalists – and in this case, Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt. Well, as I said, as a media house, you are worth nothing if you simply give staid viewpoints and are fence sitters – traits that Indian media specialize in. For example, as a media house, The Sunday Indian, amongst other issues – like health, education and judiciary – stands clearly for pro-Left thoughts and concerns for those marginalized by the market system; and we’re clearly anti bottomline-driven greedy capitalism. In a world where shameless media – owned by pro capitalism profit makers – like, say, the History channel, distorts the very history they claim to propagate, by branding the biggest global revolutionary icon, Che Guevara, as a global terrorist; where the increasingly America controlled UN, through its arm UNDP, has the audacity of dropping Cuba from its HDI rankings fearing the country would enter the top 30; where Michael Moore’s film Sicko is edited by an American channel and given a conclusion other than the one he had originally made (Moore had concluded that the Cuban health system was the best, while the channel in question – after doing a series on it without knowing the ending and subsequently realising that the conclusion will be bad for America’s PR – changed the ending with a voiceover saying that the Canadian health system was best!), The Sunday Indian stands to give the other more logical and humane side.

Thus, Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt have the right to their convictions and the right to talk to all kinds of people as journalists to get more research for their stories. Given human tendencies, 9 out of 10 human beings will brag about their connections at high places – and journalists often use this as a tool to dig out other persons’ perspectives. What is important is what they do finally. And finally, though not as original as Swaminathan Ankleseria Iyer, Vir sanghvi – who most likely loves to talk more about restaurants – is perhaps the most reader-friendly print columnist who, week after week for years, has given hard-hitting logical perspectives of general and political affairs of India. He has overcome his relative inability to think originally by becoming an outstanding presenter of a combined view of intellectuals – and with his sharp sense of logic, has most often than not been able to be on the more logical side of issues. One can rarely say that he has lobbied for wrong people through his columns. He might right now have more faith in Congress, that too as the better of the existing evils – and might even refer to Congress as “we” with a lobbyist friend in private conversations – but it would be donkey sense, even for Radia, to imagine that Sonia Gandhi acts as per Vir Sanghvi’s suggestions or that he lobbied through his columns to make Raja the telecom minister!

As for Barkha Dutt, she perhaps has the second highest number of enemies in the country – after me!!! And why not? She is young, she is mighty successful, she altered the journalism landscape single-handedly with her fearless firebrand image and became an icon not only for women in this country but also for men! People who criticize her are purely jealous and not initiated with ethics of journalism and the business of lobbying. Today, thanks to the social ‘media’ (as they love calling social networks without, of course, wanting to take the responsibility and liability that comes with becoming media), we have millions giving their often frivolous, uninitiated 140 charactered super expert comments – typically sitting and wasting their companies’ money during work hours. And when a negative wave starts on any topic, the intelligent word rarely gets any space in the world of vitriolic social media – because firstly, those who are logical don’t have that kind of free time to do Internet hooliganism; and secondly, when they do take out time, very few are initiated and educated enough to understand perspectives which often require a deeper understanding of the subject. So years of hard work and patriotism of Barkha Dutt are wiped off in a day by the social media 140 character experts – in this case, many driven by petty jealousies and many who are nothing but wannabe Barkhas who have failed to make it! After all, Internet spewing doesn’t require any effort. For that, you don’t need to make personal enemies, take life risks, go to war-torn areas, or scream literally against corruption and wrongdoers for years without having the time for your own personal life! Her tapes reveal nothing but pure journalistic ‘headline hunting’; and most non-jealous journalists who understand this profession will agree with me. Barkha is quite a hero for an entire generation and will remain so, because many of those who criticize her are the ones who would give their right arms to be in her place! As they say, jealousy is the sincerest form of flattery!

Evil is when you sell your convictions for money or lobby for money – as a journalist, not as a PR professional of course – and Vir Sanghvi or Barkha Dutt have no such track record nor do the tapes reveal that. On the contrary, they are known to be fearless and logic-driven people. I have read many a column of Vir Sanghvi criticizing issues with the Congress itself. Still, while in Vir’s case, people may not know much about his thoughts (because we hardly read beyond 140 characters nowadays; and research says only 2% of those who still read newspapers read the edit page!), as far as Barkha is concerned, I don’t need to tell anything; everyone has seen with their own eyes that she has stood for good journalism for years. When the same journalists and the entire media lobbies against a court verdict on Jessica Lal and Barkha hosts a We The People show, it is appreciated so much, isn’t it? Well, that’s also lobbying. They can be right or wrong, but ‘lobbying for their own convictions’ per se is what great journalism is all about! Just because someone lobbied – or worse, someone spoke to a lobbyist – one can’t consider them wrong. It’s a part of a journalist’s daily life! It’s time TSI readers at least get the right perspective and realize that we need to catch hold of the real scamsters instead of getting carried away by something that should have never come out at the first place – and once out, should have been ignored as a frivolous piece of useless page 3 type gossip.

Bulbs 1 - The legal lobbying industry in United Kingdom is estimated to be
worth $1.9 billion, employing over 14,000 people

Bulbs 2 - When Malaysia intended to refurbish its tainted image, the then PM mahathir Mohamed paid $1.2 million to get a date with Bush

Bulbs 3 - when a negative wave starts on any topic, the intelligent word rarely finds any space in the world of vitriolic social media

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42 comments:

Sridhar said...

Barkha and Vir Sanghvi have been targeted as they are big names the others were not even mentioned. And Yes the Govt. would not take a single journalist's advice and decide who should be appointed as a Minister or who should get which Portfolio. Focus on the real sharks who loot the taxpayers and make merry!!!

adman said...

Great views Professor.....

Saptadeep said...

U have made a good point regarding Barkha Dutt lobbying & the present rewards she is fetching for the same, but ur concept of "etchical lobbying" is pretty dizzy i beleive. Moulding people's opinion coz u ethically beleive in something is a great practice for a journalist but moulding the same for money is a crime as common men aspire to be you, they read your columns coz they ethically beleive in you, n u rob them of the truth (for which u r paid well) which according to the constitution they should not be denied. As journalist besides earning money you should also have a moral standpoint for the service you provide. Being self employed and famous is not an excuse of garnering money & playing to the gallery. If money makes a genocide ruler a US freind there is something terribly wrong with your philosophy sir.
Yes i agree to your views regarding India slowly being a demonocracy but if u consider the history of we indians (elaborated by sereval noted historians & economists) we have genetically been the same with great freedom fighters being a proud abberration. This exists because there is no proper chanell to create leaders here. No one knows how to enter politics in our great democracy!!! It has become a fiefdom of few families & they create the fear which we "BRAVE" Indians endure & pay the price for. This is the point you should make as you being a great orator can make the difference rather than lobbying for those princely estates sir.

Jai Ho said...

Well said. However, the media and the most intellectual and original journos also must be conscious of crossing the privacy line and driving someone or a system to wrong track or into trouble in the name of lobbying is incorrect. As long as the system helps in protecting the interests of the taxpayer and commoner, its good but lobbying cannot end up in showing black as white and goad public into it.

Dinesh PC said...

all i can say is LOL

Sandeep Sakharkar said...

Yeah..quite well investigated article. Also good information on history of 'ethical' lobbying around the world. Very informative indeed.
But my dear friend, your yourself are making the obvious point here that all the examples of media lobbying you are quoting, are out in the open, in the media itself (I guess that's how you knew them in the first place). Comparing that with the back channel hidden lobbying done by our hypocritical media, who preach and feed fiery unbiased journalism daily to their viewers/readers, is a bit far fetched..!!

Agree completely with your view that the tape conversations have taken the focus away from the larger and real issues and scams.

Lastly, I feel your view about branding common, lay person expressing their perspective against these journos on social media, as doing out of jealously is very lowly and patheticaly laughable. Suggest you wake up to the power or social networks !!

Damyanti said...

It is true that Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi have been targeted, but IMO not unfairly so. Granted, they should not be the ONLY ones to be targeted, nor should the political/ corporate scams be forgotten in the hoopla around the media scandal.

Lobbying could be made legal in India, and whether it should be is debatable, but it is not yet so. Journalists should confess to their bias, if they have one, like Swapan Dasgupta does, because at least then the viewer knows where the opinions are coming from. If journalists publicly confess to supporting a corporate or a politician and are able to provide a moral justification, that is another story.

India is an emerging economy, and as such I think it is great that we are addressing the politics-corporate-media nexus at this juncture.

The MSM has done a great job in uncovering scams this year, which unfortunately for India have been too numerous ever since its independence. The scale of scams now is bigger, which is why it is crucial that the media uncovers them, and acts as the Watchdog, which, after all, is its role. No point in being a Lapdog instead and practicing Access Journalism, is there?

The media needs to be above suspicion, and nothing but ethical in a country where corrupt politicians and corporate houses are running rampant. Only then can MSM take the moral high ground.

Twitter may not be organized media, and a lot of the voices may be coming from personal/political agenda.

But Indian Twitterati has succeeded where Indian MSM has failed, it has cried foul and brought attention to wrongdoing, no matter by how revered a public figure, and forced the MSM to do some self-introspection. You cannot deny that the introspection and debate at the Editor’s guild today was a healthy thing for the Indian media and the Indian people.

Bipul Barnwal said...

informative, well written, a lot of revealations of how things work in the real world.

Vishal Desai said...

I find you a hypocrite today..You have been saying a lot in various columns about not copying UK and USA..blindly...then why should media houses here copy UK style?

just_4_fun said...

I was trying hard to say to myself that this post was written by someone not hypocritical, because otherwise I would stand prejudiced, but alas!! I am

prejudiced...prejudiced against you and the outrageously gargantuan proportion of hypocrisy that oozes from each and every comment you make. A person who sits

at the top of the ladder that is at the heart of crony capitalism is now feigning as being opposed to greedy capitalism and masquerading as 'pro-left'. That is pretty

convenient is it not?? To do the same thing that the corporate mafias are doing and to be able to present a common-man friendly, not to mention fake, image. And how

was that possible?? Oh, lobbying of course!

Speaking of which, let me now come to the real topic at hand. (I am sure you will excuse my digression so far, given your totally irrelevant references to the West).

Let me take apart the haplessly flawed logic that you are attempting to thrust in our faces as 'truth' bit by bit.

You wrote "The scam is totally nothing about what the tapes reveal."

Well, let's put it this way....the tapes and the conversations reveal a LOT about two things primarily:
1. The Barkha conversation with Radia for eg. reveal how the 2G scam took place
2. How public policies are handled, in an illegal and illegitimate fashion by people not authorised to do so for eg. lobbyists and media personnel having to do with a

minister's appointment and hence costing the nation huge sums of money.

You said: "In no unclear terms, lobbying is a legal and ethical business."

Lobbying for your own client is one thing. But when it comes to a point where losses can be incurred on the national exchequer, I think one ought to exercise stricture.

Remember, the huge loss could help cure big social chronic diseases like poor education, poverty eradication etc. So a lobbying by a certain Radia for a certain A Raja

through her buddy, a certain journalist, Barkha Dutt, using her sources in the Congress party, is NOT done, because in retrospection, we can now see that A Raja's

appointment was naturally favored by Radia's client Ratan Tata, something that directly cost the nation 1.77 lakh crores or thereabout. Tell me how that is 'ethical'?? I

am not going to be drawn into a debate on "legality" but to call it ethical (since ethics, unlike even judiciary, can and will always remain unadulterated) is simply

ludicrous.

You said: "Well, the Supreme Court itself has questioned what the Prime Minister was doing all this while? One has to be living in a fool’s paradise to believe that the

government didn’t gain out of all this. Or did they just wake up one fine morning!? However, the tapes have helped the government in one way indeed. The tapes have

diverted attention from the real scam and the media is now busy discussing ‘RadiaGate’, as it’s being stupidly termed!"

Clearly, you are the one who is diverting or attempting to divert attention from the real issue. No one (anyone worth considering) is suggesting that the ministers

should NOT be grilled and that their wrongdoing and involvement will be overlooked. In fact, it is not being overlooked by anyone who is rational and unbiased and just.

But the thing is, so long the nation had become bored of listening to the same catch phrase that netas are thieves, so much so that politicians' involvement in scams

nearly used to put people to sleep. But this unholy nexus among politicians, journalists, corporates and their chamchas (read lobbyists) just show how far the

corruption has spread and has forced people out of their slumber. Among the aware and conscious, the suspicion may always have been there, but the evidence was always lacking.
And what do you mean by government gained out of this??
Few ministers have, obviously, but it is the NATION that has lost out.

just_4_fun said...

What they wrote may be hard hitting, but since interviews are obviously staged and their views are biased, then it is pointless. Journalists should be totally unbiased (and if it is not too much to ask, should not be engaged in the "bikau" of the nation and it's commoner's interests). Yes I am talking about idealism, but that is the right and the only ethical way to approach, and not the "I can be excused since he has done it too" school-boyish yet devilish one.

The leaked conversations (including those of Sanghvi and Barkha): http://openthemagazine.com/article/nation/some-telephone-conversations

(Sorry for the multiple posts...had to break my reply into several parts due to the word limit)

Cellogic said...

The loss of ethics is when media (The exposer) and the lobbyist (The imposer) roles overlap. Would it be fair to argue that upset politician has every right destroy media stations when such media airs news that politicians dislike? just as it happened in Tamilnadu with SunTV.

Philosomel said...

Okay, what I am about to ask might sound a bit off the track! However,as a student of Journalism,I find myself really confused and I need to get answer to this question.

From what I studied so far, it is said that Journalism stands for Impartiality and it means Calling a Spade - A Spade. The carnal rule is Impartiality and putting one's own set of beliefs and convictions aside to report the truth as your inherent belief system may corrupt the truth.
Doesn't lobbying completely distort that sense of Journalism or is it that it is an old book they use and things are quite different now?

vinny said...

Corrupt must be brought to justice.It does matter what we lobby for. This demonocracy spends zillion times more on buying weapons it can't make than education n health of the commom folks.Child labour is still rampant n poor folks wait endlessly for treatment at goverment hospitals because they dont afford private one's.

Sexy Julie said...

As usual, a lot of blabber from you. When MSNBC declared Obama as president 6 months in advance, they did it out in the open on-air, not behind closed doors... and no one had to tap their phones to get that news.
Next time give sometime to think a bit more logically.

yaksha said...
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joy said...
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V.Muthuswami said...

AC you are right and the democracy is long dead long ago in this country of ours. In its place we have fiefdoms, at the national and sub-national levels, with their own ground rules. Most so called educated middle class and above have learnt to live with the situation; the rest just have no time as they are left to do battle daily life of sub & inhuman living conditions. Maybe some social anthropologists could tell us what has become of us - are we some humans with genes of "adharmic" way of behaviour?

Jai said...

Lobbying happens in day to day life of each one of us... be it the shopkeeper lobbying for trying out a particular brand or someone lobbying for bride/groom to potential prospect. The thing is it is OK if it happens at higher levels. But if such lobbying goes against national interest then a check should be made on it.

And you are right... the main issue of 2G scam has lost the limelight and instead we are discussing useless issues in respect to journalism.

You have made up the case very well and gave good real life examples to make a layman understand it.

Diamonds Indu Venkat said...

ndu*2110See, it may be not a crime in India to lobby for somebody at the behest of some PR person, as you are a 'so called popular face of media' and knower of public pulse. Alas, when the media house (NDTV) tries to put up a brave face and tries to scavenge out your lead anchor out of the murky muck, you face a nosedive and land straight on your nose bleeding all over. No hysterical shout and trying to loud out the other persons will end up only like this. I felt sorry for NDTV when it tried to show that it is balanced but ended up otherwise with public wondering what another editor of Sonia Singh just supporting Barkha with other 'eminent' journalists sitting dumbfound. How you justify this?

anita said...

1-the only justification offered in favour of lobbying is that its done in west too well...2 wrongs dont make a right.

2-professor challenges the knowldge/awareness of people active on social networking sites saying that they dont have sufficient knowledge of the topic and their criticism of the act of these journos is out of their ignorance and not well thought.
well then we should not have voting in this country for election bec these gullible common men and women wud make as wrong a judgement in electing govrnment as they did in criticising these journos on sale as per prof. arindam.

3-i wish prof had done a little bit of research on what the tapes reveal or at least had cared to listen to them once-vir sanghvi was not only stringing along the source,he asked specifically as to wat kind of article radia wants from him and the exact wordings appeared in his article next day for which he was thanked too in later conversations on tape.

3-the SUPREME COURT has also found the revelations of the tapes MIND BOGGLING..hope prof. doesnt call hon'ble judges ILLITERATE TOO.

DEAR FRIEDS READ "OPEN " AND "OUTLOOK"MAGAZINE FOR THE COUNTERPOINTS AND ALSO LISTEN TO THE TAPES URSELF ON WWW.OUTLOOK.COM TO JUDGE FOR URSELF.

KiranR said...

I agree with one comment that said about the unnecessary comparison with the west. It should not a habitual to see everything though the western perspective. if something is really good about them or for that matter accepted norms there, it doesn't mean that it is a norms and we can do the same. This seems totally absurd for me. Secondly as you said today very few people really go deep and understand the issue but just react, but i have been reading Vir since many years now and appreciated his view on many issues. Having said that i have gone through all the tapes, listened them couple of times. what i really understand it that, a journalist hasthe liberty to speak to anybody as a potential source of information but in these tapes both Barkha and Vir have not only talking but doing thing way beyond their mandate. This is totally unethical act.

daison said...

something may not become right, only because it is done in western countries.. The role of the media is to let the people know everything without bias..

Sourabh tiwary said...

Dear Sir, I see that while writing this article you have used a lot of facts about the lobbying industry in the west. All the facts show that a healthy lobbying industry thrives in the western nations and is also not illegal according to the present system of law. But that doesn't means that there is nothing wrong with this institution of lobbying. It was in the post-medieval Britain that the importance of media as an approach of opinion building was understood. Let me first tell you about what I really believe about a democracy. The democracy is a government system where people of the state govern themselves through elected representatives. Now the elected representatives would be willing to look towards and care towards the interests of only the majority voters. This majority will slowly gain more power thus suppressing the minorities. Here I am not talking about a minority on the basis of religion or caste only but also on the basis of different ideologies. These ideologies can sometimes be in the direct conflict with the interests of the majority voters of the state. But as is in every group of people on earth, there are intellectuals among the majority voters and they would be willing to change their stance if the truth about the ideas of the voting minority is brought to the light.

Sourabh tiwary said...

This is where the role of media comes into place. Media in the form of print, television and radio can bring forth the intellects of the state the realities of the voting minority. These intellectuals can then (if they decide) work for the case of the minorities and ultimately the elected representatives would be forced to care about the rights of these minorities. The lobbyists as you have explicitly written in your article charge hefty prices to engaging vehemently in changing the public opinion on a particular issue. In the course of their job, their most important partners can be the journalists. Because only the media houses hold the key to molding the public opinion to any greater extent. So if the minorities want to change the overall public opinion on any issue supported by them than they need a lot of money. This is not possible in all the cases. Even if it is possible than still - The molding of public opinion driven by monetary incentive can be dangerous for a democracy. The role of the journalists must only be restricted to the showcasing of real facts and they should always avoid taking any stand for any side. The public which listens to them is always very intelligent to understand about what is right and what is wrong.

Bala said...

Lobbying for your client is legal says AC.

Corruption is also then right because it helps one's clients to get contracts.

Where a few millions change hands, what is legal and ethical and what is not becomes hazy.

Very good way to confuse minds.

Mac said...

My 2words..

US/UK arent GodFathers...what they do is right..who made this postulate?
if US/UK media is biased/lobbies, it doesnt mean journalism = lobbyism.
(*and u think, msnbc lobbied for obama for no money? haha)

nobody cares what VirSanghvi did last night, or whom he spoke to!...Radia is no criminal.

The point YOU are loosing is -- why did BARKHA (who goes to war-torn areas) DINT report about Tata-Ambani INFLUENCING A.Raja`s appointment!! if lobbying can cause the exchqueur loss of few lakh-crores,u cant justify lobbying...


sorry to say..but u looked only at one side of the coin..
it felt like you were lobbying for vir-barkha...(*if lobbying includes taking somebody`s side overlooking their MISTAKES)

smartchap16 said...
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Technology Journal said...

Well well,

Is it not right to evolve and adapt to survival of the fittest.

Aapki thinking , now it is rare to find people who speak the truth.

There are power centers, and it is always best to be riding one.

Its not a matter of right and wrong. Today is the phase of Fuzzy reality.

There are different interest groups whose truth and existence were wiped by the society. They are human too and want to exist. So all issues in this new World Order need a back light of Multi Focal and ethical analysis and pursuance.

If all are behind Land, Money and Power, so should we be.

Sounds specious, but truth mongers are mauled today as whistle blowers.

Indians love to mimic westerners in attire and social engineering and hence import their aberrations in the process too. Lobbying is what India learned by doing business with US. ( IT Exports). Other thing it could learn could be war for OIL.

Bye for now,and happy survival.
Rajeev Vashisht.

Blogger said...

I thot after reading this, I will write a equally long (and pedantic) response. But, I guess my peer revieweres have more or less covered it all. That the inductive logic is incorrect, and that you dont have to have the intellect of AC to comment on something that is so base as corruption. Anyway, theres an idea for you- have a course on corruption and lobbying :) Being loud mouthed helps, but to an extent. And when you are narcissist as well, I bet, people start ignoring, as in your case. I know you have a platform, and hence you can say what you feel like. However, as much as you may hate it, its a dialogue these days when you choose web. Monologues are dead,and the reader takes it all. Lobbying is wrong, as it is not advocacy. You can write articles, represent in forums and other places your view on anything- thats advocacy. However, to bribe someone for ulterior motives when you have nothing at stake, is immoral. Period.

gunner_till_death said...

Will some one tell the fact that people in US and Uk are suffering due to the corporates interests taking over the national interests due to these lobbyists.In India too it is happening at a vast level but it doesnt mean we should encourage it.

gunner_till_death said...

Will some one tell the fact that people in US and Uk are suffering due to the corporates interests taking over the national interests due to these lobbyists.In India too it is happening at a vast level but it doesnt mean we should encourage it.

chandan said...

It was not surprising to read how lobbying is justified taking examples that was initiated by the West, it in no sense makes the lobbying industry ethical or legal. It entirely is in the merit of the case, and if media does not report such cases, then it is not doing what it is meant for. It is also not surprising how lobbying is justified portraying it as an industry, citing money involved it it. So what if billion of dollars are spent on it, should it be promoted in absolute sense? Examples of how Israel benefited, Palestine, Arabs, Lebanon, Cuba etc can be discussed some other day, US hidden interests are but obvious.

I am shocked to read that Arindam thinks journalists with convictions can lobby and should grant them the icon from journalism industry. Are you kidding me?..From when did Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt become one of the best journalists of India?. Also, do you want us to believe that media in West does the right kind of reporting? Should Indian media follow their style of journalism?..Coming to the Radia case, agreed Niira was doing her job, she is paid for that. But, her contacts with the journalists, politicians, the matter of conversation surely needs to be further investigated. It will be premature to comment on the credibility of any of the parties involved in the scam, and the probe should highlight the fact. Media does have vested interests and the timing of revelation needs to be surely questioned. Barkha and Sanghvi are in the spotlight out of many journalists involved. So what? Should we not learn about the fact or have pity on them? Any which way, it does not dilute the importance of what tape reveals. Do you want us to believe that Barkha and Sanhgvi were using Niira as a source to crack other political stories? and Niira is so naive not to understand that?

ergo said...

What IS totally unethical is to adopt the western lobbying model partially. In the US, for example, the lobbyists have to declare their interest (Discussed in detail by Prof Rom on TIMES NOW), which, to paraphrase Blogger's comment above, didn't happen.

Secondly, one thing the tapes DO achieve is to shatter the halo of integrity of the Tata house. the revelations don't jell with Ratan Tata's sob story of insomnia caused by being asked to pay a bribe to start an airline.

ashok yadav 9453932648 said...

WHAT IS LEGITIMATE AND REAL FOR OTHERS MAY NOT BE TRUE FOR US,

this is also a reality that we are in India (in oriental world) and whatever is done in occidental world may not be necessarily be a ethical, moral or even what is thier reality may not be taken as our reality... we may economically lagging....does that mean we are lagging in every field... my point is that whatever in western counties is suitable may be so in a country like ours and more over our people may not be ready to accept every thing....it may also be taken as a reality that society has its own pace of assimilation and adoption.... in the last it is worth to argument only in respect of the situatins of societies concerned.....

timeforchange said...

i totally disagree with u sir , as per black money is concerned we are no 1 , billions of rupees are in foreign banks , and hundred of millions of common Indian poor does not have meal of 1 time . our rich people enjoying lavish homes , jets and their name in Forbes list .doing "shit" on it's own people cause they have a right to loot . they have power to buy media houses , and show them in great light , no no it is total ethical for ppl like u cause u never miss a meal , sir starve for only 2 days , u'll understand how much India has emerged

deviousdivine said...

i completely disagree with you. have you read the transcripts of the conversations? they go beyond lobbying... and journalists are not meant to write their articles or base their reportage verbatim on a pr ladys words....
i suggest you actually read or hear the transcripts before defending your cronies...

VK Sreelesh said...

If this is how you want media, then what is ethics in Journalism. What kind of journalism your magazine stand for. Why on earth a management Guru wants to save the faces of some tainted journalists? Is this article a piece of lobbying for them, by giving clean chit to them before the people? Do you want people to think the way you want them to? Why you forgot when publishing the same stuff in your magazine that it is going to readers who do not need your help to assess the truth.

verma said...

Nira Radia has earned the title of a " lobbyist " in the media reports and has built an empire of 300 crores in the span of only seven years.She should be better called a Broker or a middle person between the two groups , one being invariably the government and the other a big business house.In a layman language we call this middle mman a " Dalal ".What does she settles , again in plain words " Bribe or Rishwat" which the Government officers are unable to discuss with the business houses in lieu of the favours granted. So there is nothing special in all what the hue and cry of recent days is all about. All in power and at the helm of affairs wants to share the honest tax payers money by fair and foul means. This is the order of the day. More corrupt you are more successful an Indian you are. Otherwise how you can become multicrorepatis in months , or at the most a few years. Through honest means you cannot earn even bare necessities of life. This is unfortunately what the present India is.The easiest way to build an empire of illegal crores is to learn the art of making two corrupt persons see an eye to eye. Radia mastered this art and now everybody is feeling envious of her. Well done Radia under the present set up and keep it up.

arjundhar said...

A journalists job is "NOT" to lobby. The idea of free press is to report an un-adultrated report of whats happening for public awareness.

Practically, there obviously is some element of bias. But not deliberate!

When it is deliberate then it is very dangerous. Sorry, Barkha needs to go to the gallows (metaphorically speaking).

Ajitha said...

I am wondering whats new about the logic of this article. When the congress is accused of corruption, they point to greater corruption by the oppositon and seek to be absolved of their crimes. The Zen story of making a line shorter by drawing a longer line alongside applies here. So if u want to justify wrongful lobbying by journalists, just point to greater lobbying by media houses elsewhere.
Do we have to all the time change definitions of what is ethical to justify our deeds or do we stick to what we know in your conscience is ethically wrong? But then the problem still remains as to whose conscience is right?......So far as politics is concerned we should stick to the baseline that politics is for the betterment of the polity and anything that goes against it is unethical, no matter what the issue, no matter who the individual.

St@lion said...

Really i m really shocked to see ARINDAM taking sides of BARKHA n VIR.

ARINDAM one straight question..
HOW much BARKHA n VIR paid u to write this column.

Let me put some fact to prove that u r wrong.

1)BARKHA (the so called jurno) lobbied to assign a post to same RAJA who was responsible for the irregularities in telecon in UPA-I regime.

Any jurno will never try to bring back the same tainted minister to the same post to commit the same mistake in larger mangitude.
If she had lobbied to bring someone genuine n honest minister in UPA-II then really i with billion plus Indian would have saluted her for lobbying for the good cause.

2)VIR has done greater damage to the indian jurno image. HE lost his mind , he is being controlled by RADIA , RELIANCE , TATA to put their case n voice in front of the ppl. Does this is ethical. Tommorow lallu will tell VIR to divide BIHAR on communal lines so that LALLU can win the top post of the state, and then we will call OH VIR WHAT A JOB! TOTALLY ETHICAL!!..isn't it.



ARINDAM(f that SIR in front of ur name) I M disappointed to see that even ARINDAM has a price-tag on him.
ARINDAM I will give u 10crore rupees , will u write articles with truth n facts n honesty, as i learned that u write only for money n money n money.....nothing else u bhikhari! .
Now I have stopped trusting u blindly.

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