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Open War: Daring OPEN, Defending Barkha, Disregarding Sanghvi

Some say it golden Thursday for daring step by OPEN magazine while many find it as black day for media.

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | November 19, 2010

One magazine and two senior journalists representing two largest media houses of the country were most discussed topic yesterday on social networks specially on twitter. Surprisingly, the issue got 2,000+ tweets & reach of 800,000+ uniques in one fine day. Not only this, the traffic on magazine’s website was incredibly huge to crash the server.

Many termed it as a golden day in journalism as the Open Magazine dared to reveal the controversial tapes that point the  involvement of Hindustan Times Advisory Editorial Director Vir Sanghvi  and NDTV’s Barkha Dutt in matters concerning lobbyist Niira Radia, former telecom minister A. Raja, the Congress and the DMK, and the fight between the Ambani brothers. Open Magazine, edited By Manu Joseph uploaded the transcript of telephone conversation on their website. Click here to read the transcript of the conversation published by OPEN magazine.

So were the many to term it as one of those rarest days in journalism when the people who were known for attacking politicians with their tough questions were trying hard to defend themselves.

Amidst all the high voltage drama, within hours, NDTV posted an objection letter on its website NDTV on defamatory remarks against Barkha Dutt and hinted appropriate action against defamation. Even Barkha Dutt tried to clear the air by replying to her twitter fans. But what went wrong which showed the desperation was to read out the statement at the start of Barkha’s famous prime time show “The Buck Stops Here” on NDTV 24x7.

Whatever was cooking inside, this step is being called as desperate one just because the issue of the “OPEN” magazine was not on the stands at the time of on-air clarification. So what was the need to tell the whole country to read the current issue of OPEN? Also, such issue should have been handled with legal action and mutual talks rather than going in public, which, in any case, will benefit the magazine.

Another mistake showing desperation was the statement itself on the NDTV website. It was published in urgency showing clearly that it is written by Barkha and published in the name of CEO. The post was edited later on. Below are the two screen grabs pre and post editing.

Minutes ago, Rajdeep Sardesai also has twitted on the issue and said, "need to break silence on open mag, outlook stories. distinguish between legitimate journalism and lobbying for god sake."

"conversation between source and journo is legitimate. if quid pro quo is shown, expose it. else, dont destroy hard earned reputations," Sardesai added.

Unlike NDTV, Hindustan Times or Vir Sanghvi himself are keeping mum on this issue. It was quite unfortunate to read Vir’s conversation on the OPEN’s website where he is clearly heard selling his Hindustan Times column “Counterpoint”. It seems enough to harm the reputation of the English daily specially in the wake of HT Leadership Summit which kicked off today.

Despite repeated attempts to reach Shobhna Bartia, Chairperson, HT Media and Sanjoy Narayan, Editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times, Best Media Info could not get any clue on the further action being taken by Hindustan Times.

Also read: Open War: Daring OPEN, Defending Barkha, Disregarding Sanghvi


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Comments (1)
  • Arjun Bhaga- 9 years ago

    Its not a question of golden or black. Its a case of being ethical and clean. Its no secret that journalists like bureaucrats and politicians are fetted and pampered. Clearly the credibility of these tapes has to be ascertained. What is needed is a clear and coherent explaination from Ms. Dutt to the Indian public and not the garbled note that has been put across by the channel she represents.