OPINION

Barkha Dutt And NDTV, The Joke Is On You!

January 29, 2009
Sandeep

So Chyetanya Kunte is the latest victim of media intimidation. I'm not going to rehash the same excellent points made by other bloggers. Here's a partial list:


The Indian media--specifically, television ranks at the top for its King-sized conceit. It bulldozes its way into people's tragedies and increasingly, sees itself as the final arbiter of national justice. Its anchors assault the ears 24/7 with nothing but meaningless shrillery under the illusion that loudness=news. Its talk shows are crude exercises in self-aggrandizement. However, all these traits don't even measure up to even a knee-length of Barkha Dutt epitomizes. There's no better proof for this than the fact that a Facebook Group (Can u please take BARKHA off air!) is dedicated to her. It is by far one of the most popular groups there with over 4500 members and about 900 posts in just over a month!

Barkha Dutt owes her heady taste of fame to her "reporting" during the Kargil war. Ignoring the controversy surrounding her actual role in the reporting, she was made out to be a bigger hero than the valiant soldiers that fought in the war. I recall reading some review that Preity Zinta's unconvincing histrionics in Lakshya was modelled after Barkha. However, for Barkha, there was no looking back after Kargil. Today she stands almost unchallenged in both fame and skill at compensating incompetence with loudmouthedness. She spins self-righteous yarns about free speech and media-professional hazards when her nonchalant reporting style is criticized. You tend to normally ignore such yarn because she has to defend her actions, etc. But then, you should sit up and give it back when she goes beyond that. In a shocking display of arrogance and strong-arm tactics, she has threatened legal action against blogger Chyetanya Kunte for voicing his opinion about her "shoddy journalism" which is what her antics on 26/11 were. Chyetanya was forced to take down his post thanks to NDTV's threat.

Neither is this the first instance. Remember Mediaah, which was shut down thanks to a similar legal threat by TOI (aside: read an excellent piece on the whole episode). Or the infamous IIPM online hooliganism that threatened to choke Rashmi Bansal's (also Gaurav Sabnis') right to freedom of speech? Despite all this, the Indian media just doesn't get it. Here's the thing beautifully articulated:

The success of [The Times'] case depends wholly on the hope that Maheshwari will not fight back against a gargantuan media conglomerate," said Rohit Gupta, a freelance writer and engineer in Mumbai. "That's where the Times of India reveals its ignorance of changing times and the nature of the blogosphere. Maheshwari does not need to fight this himself — this concerns the freedom of all bloggers from Indian origin, so we will fight the battle for him."[...] "The Times of India has simply shown how far they've come from being a respectable newspaper to being a common school bully. If bloggers can collaborate to provide humanitarian assistance for the greatest natural disaster the living world has seen, they can certainly tackle the Times of India, a man-made ethical disaster.

Which takes us back to the same question: why do they hate us so much? From India Today to TOI to Outlook and now NDTV, the media has on numerous occasions ranted against bloggers with undisguised contempt, which stems from their appalling ignorance of what blogging is all about. Their typical terms for bloggers: brash, 20-something, angry, furious, seething, venting, cyber-Cinderellas, pretentious, and the like. Is this because they feel somehow threatened? Or is it because some bloggers write far better prose, articulate opinions way better than many so-called mainstream observers and columnists? Or is it because bloggers are unconstrained by word-limit, editorial stance, or business interests? For all their ire against bloggers, the media doesn't hesitate to steal content from bloggers. Here's a lovely post that chronicles this plagiarism (scroll down till you reach this: Indian Media Plagiarizing from Bloggers [or, bloggers highlighting cases of MSM misdeeds]). TOI leads the pack in this plagiarism, the selfsame TOI that sent the self-righteous legal notice to Mediaah didn't seem to examine the crap in its own backyard. There's yet another angle to this. In the breath that they rant against bloggers, most of these media houses have their own blogs, or have set up a blog service on their sites--TOI, IBN, Indian Express, and the now-defunct blog service from NDTV. The main reason I think, for the Indian media's angst against the blogsphere is the fact that till blogging caught popular imagination, media houses were used to their monopoly over news and opinion--they were virtually unchallenged--any "letters to the editor" that didn't toe their byline were simply not published. Now that bloggers on a colossal scale have begun to call their bluff, their fragile sensibilities have taken a severe blow. While they strut around invading people's privacy, and making grand pronouncements at random on everybody, they need to understand that freedom of speech is not their exclusive privilege. People will exercise the same right upon them. Patrix puts it beautifully:
When the reporter becomes the reported, it is usually time to take a closer look at your life and wonder what happened.

However, if bloggers can sit alone at their keyboards, type out their honest opinions, and network with each other on noble causes, they can also fight back against such strong-arm tactics. In this, they're far more courageous than the media, which infamously crawled when asked to bend. I'm sorry, but Barkha Dutt and her NDTV team cannot gag my right to free speech on the pretext of protecting her right to free speech. If I don't like a newspaper, I won't buy it and I'll say why I don't like it. The newspaper cannot sue me for that. While we're on the subject, since NDTV is listed on the Stock Exchange, how about selling its shares if you have bought any?

What's next, Barkha Dutt and NDTV, are you going to sue the entire Indian blogsphere, and Facebook?

Sandeep works as a writer in an IT Services company based in Bangalore. Blogging is his latest and severely active hobby.
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#1
Ravi Kulkarni
January 29, 2009
11:14 AM

Dear Sandeep,

Excellent article. Just goes to show the big-brotherly attitute of the big media. It is time we woke up and shunned shoddy journalism.

BTW, Chyetanya's original post is still available here:

http://tinyurl.com/dk8akt

Regards,

Ravi Kulkarni

#2
Slime_id
January 29, 2009
11:29 AM

Barkha Dutt's NDTV. A pure feministic junk TV.
Radhika Roy is sister of another AIDWA member and CPM leader Brinda Karat.

Explore her spouse whose name goes by Haseeb Drabu, Chairman, Jammu & Kashmir Bank which in turn supports & supportz women rights in Kashmir. Make one comment against Pakistan and Kashmiri hardliners, or anti-feminist agenda, NDTV goes ballistic.

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/default.aspx
Check out the current headlines in its online version.
The great Indian 'pub culture' divide: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot says he has been misquoted over his comments on 'pub culture,' while his Congress colleague Shiela Dikshit makes a politically correct statement. (NDTV)

There was another comment if women were leaders, recession would have been prevented.

No wonder these editors at NDTV are smoking grass or similar, and color the news in their colors.

#3
kela
January 29, 2009
11:40 AM

Thats really sad Chaitanya took off his post and none of the bloggers,most of whom are professionals,came out in his support.

#4
kela
January 29, 2009
12:49 PM

threatening legal action was really foolish on Barkha's part.she's made more enemies now and emboldened her detractors.Its another matter than most people hate her because she and her channel are secular and take up minority causes.

#5
Sumanth
January 29, 2009
03:03 PM

"Barkha Dutt's NDTV. Radhika Roy is sister of another AIDWA member and CPM leader Brinda Karat."

Guess, who is the mentor Brinda Karat?
Devaki Jain, mother of Srinivasan Jain.

-------
As far as this issue of free speech and arrogance of MSM is concerned, I have two points:

1) One must not be afraid of legal action.

Bloggers must get ready to face legal action, if necessary.

I and my fellow SIF bloggers never got any threats from any MSM for whatever we write. They knew, that those who go to courts every month, know how to fight the lawsuits even without lawyers.

In fact, we have threatened media about lawsuits and made their lives miserable when they defamed any one of us.

Use words like "allegedly" or quote others, to stay out of defamation case. You can also change the name Barkha Dutt to "Birkha Dutt" and Brinda Karat to Burundi Carrot.

As MSM knows that most other bloggers would like to avoid courts, so they are issuing empty threats.

If 100 bloggers unite, then they can also sue MSM. So many lies are reported in NDTV. I still remember NDTV gave false statistics, for which it can be sued.

2) Journalists employed in MSM are either inexperienced or incompetent or overloaded.

So, they spend very little time on research.
In last 3 years, SIF has fed MSM regarding issues like DV, Family Laws and various statistics. We did all the research and gave it for free to media.

According to me, Journalists in MSM are no match for bloggers. The bloggers have bigger numbers and many of them are passionate about what they do or write unlike the journalists in media, who have to think about some 200 topics every month.
-----------

It is time, bloggers work to discredit MSM.

Today, MSM is even conducting functions to give awards to Manmohan Singh and other politicians.

We, the people of India have given NDTV and others so much power that even politicians are now standing in queue to meet these journalists.

Why do we empower media so much?
Why do we trust and depend on media so much?

The day, more and more people turn to Blogs to find the actual truth or multiple view points, MSM will fall in line.

That will happen, when we tell people not to trust MSM.

I have seen Barkha and others claim that MSM follows strict methods in editing etc etc. I have been closely interacting with media for last 4 years, all that is complete bullshit.

Most editors are not as competent as specialist bloggers in different fields.

Anti-MSM campaign is a must. It has to be revived.

It is not just the issue of NDTV or Barkha Dutt, but it is all about safe guarding democracy and the future of the people of this country.

I personally believe that MSM seriously harms society with biased reporting in a large number of issues.



#6
Sumanth
January 29, 2009
03:25 PM

Is Patrix the same guy, who closed down Desipundit (couple of years back) all of a sudden for his and his girlfriend's personal reasons?

The bloggers writing in desipundit put up a brave front and then started blogbharati.

The bloggers must create strong leadership without depending on novices like Patrix. The bloggers should also think strategically as the enemy is much bigger and has got money power and connections.

===========
A moderate stand on MSM will not work.
===========

It is very clear what people like Barkha Dutt think about bloggers. They will not change.

======
A tough stand may not make people like you. However, you earn respect when you are tough and ruthless. A tough stand will make MSM respect bloggers.
======

#7
Ravi Kulkarni
January 29, 2009
10:33 PM

I just read Barkha Dutt's defense of her coverage during the Mumbai attacks. I am not totally convinced, but it is a plausible defense.

http://www.barkhadutt.tv/

I don't like the way the TV anchors treat their viewers. I am glad that I haven't had a TV for the last 9 years. It is only getting worse.

Regards,

Ravi

#8
SanjayTheAtheist
January 29, 2009
11:08 PM

"Plausible defense" -- my foot. She of course gets a special pedestal on the airwaves to highlight her viewpoint. How convenient.

But let's hear from a source that reported on Barkha's misdeeds:

http://ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/mumbaiterrorstrike/Story.aspx?ID=NEWEN20080075340&type=News

Maybe NDTV should also likewise sue those who put out this article, too.

Oh... wait...

#9
SanjayTheAtheist
January 30, 2009
08:24 PM

Oh look, NDTV has now pulled down the article which I linked to above, from its own website. No doubt this latest move is because these evasive crooks are embarrassed at their own hypocrisy.

Here is a link to a PDF copy of that NDTV article which they've removed:

http://retributions.nationalinterest.in/wp-content/uploads/ndtv_com__call_to_regulate_media_coverage_of_terror_strikes.pdf



#10
commonsense
January 30, 2009
09:14 PM

Sanjay,

Dingo Makes Us Human

#11
temporal
URL
February 1, 2009
12:45 AM

There is some validity to this anxiety. Frankly, specialty channels, reality TV and the blogosphere are very entertaining, but they are hardly bastions of our freedoms and values. Nor are they purveyors of facts that have been well-tested and curated by professional content-providers who occupy editors' and producers' chairs. Diane Francis

#12
Chandra
February 1, 2009
12:54 AM

As much as I hate Barkha Dutt, Mr. Kunte must have written some really stupid stuff to print an apology like that. He seems to be literally grovelling in that apology...sad..

#13
Chandra
February 1, 2009
01:02 AM


I did manage to read Mr. Kunte's article and I am unable to understand what in that article led NDTV to file a legal case against this guy. Either way, NTDV hardly has any credibility left these days.

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