>A letter to answer Barkha Dutt’s recent article

>A couple of days ago an angry friend invited me to what I discovered was one of many anti Indian-media web groups and specifically targeting Barkha Dutt. I knew that people were not entirely happy with the way the media had handled some of the coverage of the recent terror attacks.
In response to all this criticism that had been brewing since the Mumbai attacks, Ms. Dutt wrote an article yesterday to answer some of her, and the broadcast media at large’s, detractors.
Im sure there will be many angry people out there who will not listen to her arguments and will likely not be looking for reasonable attitudes – and they can’t entirely be faulted in the wake of all that has happened. There are those out there who while angry and hurt, still will be willing to hear her out.
Being one of those myself and having some experience in the media field, I felt it only fair to try and be honest and give a fair response without bias to the article. With that in mind, here is my open letter to Burkha Dutt. I am hoping to get this to her personally and am trying to do so right now, but at the very least I felt it should be put out there.

It is a very honestly written piece which I am sure will put a lot of peoples doubts to rest, for those who are seething and projecting anger, there is nothing that can be done but to bear it.

To be honest, I don’t think that your talking to the families or the freed hostages was either inappropriate or insensitive. Nothing personal, but you do have a somewhat brusque manner which given the stressful situation, may be misinterpreted as being insensitive.

The only point on which I do not entirely agree with you is that there should be a framework built and that the media ‘broke no rules’.
Firstly, there can obviously be no rules to cover each and every detail of how people in every single job behave, but in journalism – a profession historically considered one of integrity – as much if not more than other fields, there must be some application of common sense and decency. While a dangerous and very difficult operation is being undertaken where people lives are at stake, I should think the media would have enough sense to show everything in the area EXCEPT the actual movement of those involved – especially in this techno day and age.
Secondly, there have been many reports of some (not all) reporters doing things like showing too much detail of the action and even one I was just told about who actually asked one of the commando’s what the condition of the dead bodies was. This shows a desire to find something shocking that will generate controversy and thus – ratings.

Now for most of us, I don’t think we care about the vast majority of Indian media outlets. I myself watch only BBC, NDTV and occasionally maybe CNN – the rest are barely worth watching I find, with sensationalist attitudes, weak reporting and highly repetitive.

My feeling is that yes people are blaming the media very largely out of frustration and a need to see someone pay for what has happened in some fashion – and lets be honest, politicians are not likely to suffer too much because of this, its already a central argumentation point and the coming elections and what must be done for that are seeming to be the main topics of interest. But that is another matter.

I guess the point in all this is that a channel like NDTV is one that a very large number of people watch and respect across the country (from what Ive seen) as a national new channel. As a result, that channel and you as a very prominent face on NDTV, are akin to our window to the world. We look to you to go where we cannot, to see what we can’t and to keep us informed so that we don’t dwell in ignorance.
You are a larger public figure and in many ways with shows like the one you host, you are not just a media figure – you are a little like one of us. I hope you understand this.
This all is why people are hurt and angry and lashing out at you.

Bottom line, just because there is no written rule, does not mean that crossing that line isn’t wrong. And arguing that you did nothing wrong at anytime is not worthy, it is not honest and it is more than a little dishonourable.
We cannot change who you are, you either will admit what mistakes you make – small or large – and if it is in you, you will apologise for the, and do so sincerely. If after that you find the people embrace you again, it makes for a better equation between you and your viewers; if not, well then theres little you could do further anyway except keep going. But at least then you would have a clear conscience no?

Anyhow, I did not intend to lecture, my apologies if it comes across as such. I merely want to say my piece and not do it in a bias fashion and hopefully that aim has been accomplished.

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Inkpot says:

    >Very well written Dude. It will be interesting what her reply will be, if any. I hope you manage to get it to her. It made me laugh when you mentioned journalistic integrity. That is something you don’t see very often any more. I don’t know about you, but over here alot of news programmes have options where you can phone and text in your opinions which are then read out during the news show. The media is so manipulative and opinion based these days. I used to think a journalist was interested in uncovering and reporting the truth. It seems they are more and more trying to entertain and twist facts to present a story.

  2. The Dude says:

    >thanks. you’re right, it would be interesting to hear her response to it so lets hope it gets through! I know, I know, the journalistic integrity thing was funny for me too, but honestly I dont blame most of them. Its just that pretty much everything today is a race, a business and a means to an end. I rarely meet people who want to do a thing for love of it yknow? (except maybe freshers our of college..)The media is manipulative, but only sometimes, most of the time the order for the day is sensationalism and drama – cos lets face it, theres no news like bad news! sad but true..

  3. Inkpot says:

    >Very sad, but very true. 😦 Of course journalists face a lot of competition to be read or heard, as do all aspects of the media, but it is a shame they don’t have standards and boundaries anymore. Any update on your letter?

  4. The Dude says:

    >nothin so far im afraid.. dont think Im likely to get anything.

  5. Yesu says:

    >Brilliant once again! As usual we discuss these issues whenever were chilling and there are some interesting perspectives that we have always come up with.Well my only grouse with the media is that they went a little too far by showing everything on tv and that sort of backfired on the whole NSG operations and made life a lot more difficult for the people who were stuck in those buildings and made life visually painful for all those who were watching!! I think the media did a great job by bringing the whole issue to the fore so that the fucking stupid bloody bureaucrats and fucking bastard politicians were completely exposed and the people finally realized that this country had some serious security issues which are needed to be addressed! So in a way the media did a good thing and a bad but then my friend as i always say ‘kuch paane ke liye kuch khona bhi padta hai’ but this loss was it really worth it??!!

  6. mystic rose says:

    >Very well written. One would think this sane and well formed thinking would be given due thought especially so when most of the feedback would be along the lines of “you did a great job” or what you did was absolutely unconscionable.My own feeling when i saw the footage was that our forves were overwhelmed, their thinking was only to get to the hostages first, and the rest that were not actively involved in that, the police, had no clue what to do. Or perhaps they liked being on stage. Or the hwole thing could have been staged.As for the terrorsits being in contact with their superiors, there could have been any number of them amongst the onlookers in reporting back to the persons directing the whole thing.Our response in anyc ase was totally unprepared. Almost everyone amongst the police, the guards looked bewildered, bemused, naive, there was even footage showing some of them laughing and chatting as they watched the Taj in flames. BUt yes, I was horrifed as I saw video footage of the positions and movement of the commandoes.

  7. Inkpot says:

    >Hi Dude, how are you? Haven’t heard from you in a while, so I hope all is well and you will be back posting soon. Best wishes Inks

  8. The Dude says:

    >@mysticit was a completely unprepared, quite botched and seemingly disorganised response considering the situation. People get offended when i say this, but when I hear a story like the one about the south african commando’s who got people out on their own it makes me ashamed. And that we were offered help and didnt take it but were asking ISI heads to come here makes me think there is something wrong with these people.. The whole thing was sad and unprofessional (for lack of another appropriate word at the moment)@inkpotsorry, been trying to sort some things out but fine otherwise. thanks for your concern, much appreciated, just actually decided that it was the end of the month so was going to make a new post after new years only. Will be doing so in a day or two and then will be posting a short story over a couple of posts after that.

  9. Inkpot says:

    >Glad to hear from you Dude. looking forward to a new post and your short story.

  10. nishaa says:

    >Well-wriiten dude…its entirely understandable why so many hate communities have cropped up against ms.barkha dutt…she is much admired and respected as a journalist with integrity but her coverage of the mumabi terror attacks was a major let-down..she swayed dangerously close to the clan of journalists who indulge in cheap and inhuman sensationalism.To compromise the lives of hundreds of innocents by showing footage of the commando operations for TRP’s is sick to say the very least..sicker even is asking grieving mothers,husbands,fathers,brothers how it feels to know that their loved ones have been gunned down mercilessly in cold blood..ms.dutt definitely let people down and her rather cold response frankly does not do much to tone down the damage.

  11. SSQuo says:

    >I tip my hat off to you for taking the time to put into words the feelings of many. People have had feelings of anger and only had harsh words for her (including a group on Facebook to get her off the air!), but you provided a rational explanation of where and how people felt. Honestly, she should really already know ‘why’ people have lashed out at her, but then again, perhaps shes living in her cosy bubble. I dont watch NDTV all that much since I live outside the country, but I did catch it big time during the attacks. What is your take on Srinivas Jain? I’m getting mixed opinions.

  12. The Dude says:

    >@nishaathanks, and let me just say that your last line there sums up the entire matter in its barest simplicity. @SSQuoThank you, I just felt that these were things that needed to be said. People tend to get lost in extreme emotional reactions and rationality takes a side-step. Anger solves nothing satisfactorily…srinivas jain.. who, the ndtv guy? dont give it all that much thought really but he isnt too bad. Needs some work on spreading his interest and therefore his knowledge base – but basically he could be really good if he wanted to, gives a very professional vibe I think, something thats lacking in most cases. 😛 lets hope he keeps it!

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