Learning of a lifetime

December 7th, 2010

It’s hard to believe when Ms Dutt says she did not consider lobbying by Ms Radia to get a certain person into the cabinet, a story.

It is very much a story, for any editor who would want to do it.

Ms Dutt however, may not be completely wrong in not doing the story. Editors do kill stories.

One call from the corporate communication head followed by a meeting and the reporter’s story flies out of the window. All the hard work and home work done, is trashed.

So its not surprising when journos are referred to as “apna dost hai” by the communication professionals (no offense meant).

An instance: While covering one of the most famous legal disputes of its time between two corporate houses, the journalists on the court beat would be treated to refreshments and luncheons, with the corporate communications head picking up the tab. We would be offered lifts to offices and during the ride, brainwashed against the motives of the other group.

Many of these gentlemen and ladies (pretty good at their jobs) however, forget that we stick to reporting only the court proceedings. Despite this, by the evening you would be flooded with calls and emails with different versions even to the court proceedings. While one group would push con-calls with its seniors, other group would have its communication team ready with printed matter to be distributed.

Another company which I had just started writing on, did not want me to do a particular story, so a senior communications manager called up my boss in Delhi to kill the same. When my boss refused, the communication professional called me to convince me how un-important my story was and how I should focus on doing a story which a rival paper is working on. Our equation however, remains for future’s sake.

I guess there’s very little that journalists can do about the entire network that they get into while working. Developing personal equations are inevitable. We do have that with our sources and I am sure we are sources for communication professionals too, to plant their stories. Drawing that line absolutely difficult.

So for me and am sure many other journalists like me, the entire Radia tape episode is learning of a lifetime. As for the government, I guess it could look at granting lobbying a professional status as it enjoys in the US. May be then it may not be as a dirty word as we make it sound right now!

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