Sunday, November 25, 2012

NDTV: Vikram's Anguish, Barkha's Ire

In a series of tweets on November 23 Vikram Chandra, the Executive Director and an anchor at NDTV, wondered about the reason for deterioration in TV news. VC who usually appears mild-mannered and soft-spoken on TV is probably genuinely wondering about a serious situation. My instant reply was that it was those from the NDTV stable who had contributed considerably to lowering the BAR. Er... That BAR is Barkha-Arnab-Rajdeep. There are two ways to look at news. You either look at it as public service or as a regular business. The choice defines who the target or customers are. The choice also defines the content, methods and coverage. Without a doubt, since all three channels which these celebs represent have chosen business over public service the model was destined to fail. There’s a golden rule which most successful businessmen in India know: ‘If you want mega success in India, learn to do business with the poor and the middle class’. 

When Reliance was about to embark into the mobile communication business Anil Ambani recalled how Dhirubhai had told him: “We must find a way that a villager in Chorwad (Dhirubhai’s hometown in Gujarat) can make an STD call in 40paise”. Do NDTV, TimesNow or CNN-IBN look like they want to deal with any guys like that? I have often joked that channels like NDTV and CNN-IBN are meant for those with a mini-bar at home. Calling these channels ‘News Channels’ is like calling Cosmopolitan or Vogue newspapers. The mindless debates, Bollywood, tamashas, slanted news items, nothing-to-fill for 24 hour news channels but repeats were bound to cause damage.

These channels were simply driven by agendas and money and nothing else. The concept of news as public service has escaped them completely. I can write a model for VC but that can wait. It won’t work unless NDTV comes out of its celebrity-cult management style. They refuse to the see the truth that Barkha Dutt has brought about a lot of negative views about NDTV. No amount of screaming and ranting can alter that. If VC really wants to introspect, that’s where he will need to start. All the three celebrities are not only at odds with the public but also with the social media. Instead of harnessing social media profitably to extend their reach they see it as an evil that threatens them. To the celeb that villager in Chorwad is an anonymous moron whose needs or opinions don’t matter. Rajdeep went all the way to Ramlila to take a picture with Anna Hazare but I doubt you would find a pic with him and some folks in the crowds that had gathered there. And then these folks want all the media platforms to rant: TV, Newspaper, Social Media, Conventions, Seminars; everywhere. So Barkha’s latest Divine rant is titled “To each his own”. Where did it appear? Of course, in Hindustan Times.

She writes about 66A and the arrest of the two girls over their Facebook comments on Bal Thackerays funeral and Mumbai shutting down. I do not recall a single comment anywhere which supported the arrest. But the media, while blowing up this case, overlooks the other similar cases. Ah, I guess there must a special reason for this. But 66A and the case is just a side-story. The main story returns to her defence of her action against Chaitanya Kunte, the blogger who nailed her “Shoddy Journalism” during the 26/11 attacks. I have watched the 26/11 attacks on TV from 10pm on 26/11 right till the end with just a few hours of sleep. Like many, I cannot help agreeing 100% with what Kunte wrote. Yet, Barkha lives in denial. Fine! But cleverly she chooses to pick a point from Kunte’s blog that doesn’t refer to her directly at all. Here’s what she writes:

Four years ago, I sent a legal notice to a blogger for, among other seriously slanderous comments, suggesting that my reportage on 26/11 was somehow linked to the death of police officer Hemant Karkare. Apart from the irresponsible, sweeping nature of the comments, it was low on facts. As a Delhi-based reporter, I wasn't even in Mumbai the night Karkare was killed”.

That’s truly clever. She wasn’t in Mumbai on the night of 26/11. Nobody said she was. She was there probably from 27/11 onward. And some of the content in Kunte’s blog is an exact reproduction of the transactions Barkha was involved in. Nowhere, I repeat nowhere, does Kunte even remotely link Hemant Karkare’s death with Barkha. Although Kunte has since pulled his blog you can read the particular post in question here or on many sites where it’s reproduced. Far from suppressing his views Barkha only managed to enlighten the whole world about that post with her silly legal action. In fact, Karkare’s name doesn’t even appear in the main post but in an update. Here’s what Kunte actually wrote:

Update: In fact, I am willing to believe that Hemant Karkare died because these channels showed him prepare (wear helmet, wear bullet-proof vest.) in excruciating detail live on television. And they in turn targeted him where he was unprotected. The brave officer succumbed to bullets in the neck”.

Now that will make it clear to anyone reading it that Kunte was referring to “all news channels” and not specifically to Barkha or her channel at all. So her mindless outburst is based on nothing but fake righteousness. She cleverly omits the main contents of the post which actually reproduces her reporting during the attack. She probably assumes no one will look back or remember the episode and she can get away with some spurious defence of her conduct. Vikram Chandra fails to estimate how much damage this particular episode has done to NDTV not just in India but across the world. Barkha’s contempt for bloggers is all too well known. Twitter and FB were still new to India in 2008 but have caught up strongly. Here’s what Barkha laments further:

The misogyny of some online discourse is now well established. Earlier this year, writer Meena Kandasamy tweeted about attending a beef-eating festival. The volley of abuse that followed included calling her a bitch, a whore and a terrorist”.

Barkha uses what may be a few abusive tweets to tar the entire Twitter group that is not so friendly to her and doesn’t present her with “accolades” all the time. Now remember, there are media celebs who have called Lord Ram a D***, who have called people “guttersnipes”, who have called “Indian males ugly”. Suhel Seth in DMs on Twitter is a specialist in showering abuses on mothers of Tweeple. He is a friend and regular guest of NDTV. Should we conclude all media celebs, including Barkha, are abusive idiots? Barkha uses such stray tweets, as do others, to smartly follow her agenda of tarring all her critics with the same brush. This is her way of spewing venom at the so called “right wingers” or those not falling within her definition of “secular”.

Is that all? Not at all! A former NDTV colleague of Barkha called me an “anonymous, unreachable terrorist” in a very public forum. I had never written about or even mentioned this guy anywhere. Umm.. I guess if one were Barkha he would have sued the guy. I demolished his nonsense in a couple of posts and he knows it too. But are we at war? Not at all! Today, that person and I follow each other with a lot of friendliness and without any bitterness. Barkha is yet to grow up. Such a huge ego and so much arrogance are hardly suited for public service. For all my stinging criticism Rajdeep calls me “paid-media”. Haha! I laugh but I don’t grudge Rajdeep and I understand his grief. Barkha’s cronies have called me “rabid” and she joined in too. Should I now call her and her followers abusive morons? One doesn’t make a mountain of mole hills and stray abuses. Vikram Chandra doesn’t realise how much damage his celebs are causing NDTV through their conduct on the social media.

Barkha and NDTV haven't come to terms with social media yet. But the one thing they can definitely learn is how to use social media productively. Even Modi uses Google+ hangout and now seeking ordinary folks as brand ambassadors for Gujarat through his FB page, These are surely innovative methods on the social media. In contrast Barkha continues her tirade against unknown people and critics and continues to lose fans for NDTV. If Vikram Chandra seeks to improve NDTV’s TRP or innovate in their business models, his celebs certainly aren’t helping his cause. All his well-intended anguish gets destroyed by irate behaviour of his celebs. Barkha’s latest article has nothing to do with 66A or those stupid arrests. It is another silly attempt at getting rid of the albatross around her neck. Neither Chaitanya Kunte nor Radiagate are going to disappear in a hurry. Anger and arrogance won’t do it, some genuine remorse will.


  1. It was indeed funny to read barkha dutt's post.As if she was using so much of that newspaper space for a personal story telling to everyone. These people have no shame at all. After all the serious level charges against her, she can come out of hiding, use HT as a platform and preach how social media should behave?? i say WTF to that! And just this morning i was reading HT about intellingence bureau chief appointment and i was shocked and surprised to see what was written. they say that by appointing a muslim officer as IB head,the govt is saying to muslims that we are giving adequate representation to you at such a high levels. did i read that correct?? So shameless minority appeasement has come even in such sensitive postings?? Or is it HT that is fabricating such statements?? I really am not able to interpret such news items. can you help Mr Ravinar?

  2. Thanks for the link to Kunte's blog. There is nothing wrong with what he says. Any lawyer would have told NDTV that they had a weak case. Truth is a solid defence in a libel trail.

  3. Hi Ravi,

    There is simply no escape from us. This fact is well known to all in media.

    These people hate our guts because that is what we have & are always pulling their guts out to show them how gutless they all are.

    Recently I did have a chance to raise the issue of ethics of NDTV with Vikram Chandra the man refused to answer this, but Mr. Shekhar Gupta of IE did make an attempt to respond. This is recorded in my blog "Amateur's encounter with the media upclose"

    The other point that you raised is the damage that Barkha Dutt is causing to the channel. This point I had raised way back 2010 more than 2years ago in my blog "From The Dizzy Heights of Kargil to Despairing Depths of oblivion."

    This constant pressure from us bloggers & Tweeters will bear fruit that is a given.

  4. 900 chuhe kha Ke Billi chali Haj

  5. This is what I do when I want to read an article.First I read he comments which gives me the whole picture whether the article is worth reading or not.In Barkha's article 100% of the comments are against her views.This is what enrages her and her ilk.This is the power of Social Media.And this is what going to take them down the drain.

    After the Radiagate I always wondered in any part of the world will Barkha get a job as journalist.But as the saying goes 'It Happens Only In India'.

    I hope some one can circulate Mr.Ravinar's articles bundled with newspaper as newspapers or magazines or flyers for a week with the help of distributors in their respective cities and villages.

    May be we can collect some money voluntarily(with right kind of auditing) and target one city at a time.May be Mr.Ravinar should take the initiative with like minded people.I've my own plans to do the same thing but am busy with projects and personal stuff and intended to do ones my work comes to completion.The corrupt media has to go Indians need better service.

    1. Completely agree with you....We need to take all this to the common man.....I hope Ravinar has some plans for expansion...maybe tie up with some good channel and have a one hour program everyday to critique news shown in various channels....
      Im more than willing to donate whatever I can for such a cause....

    2. Yes. The time has come for every patriotic Indian to fight these corrupt NEWS people spoiling the entire young generation all 24x7--365. I am willing to donate and help physically also if an attempt is made to start a REVOLT against these fraud news channels.

  6. As always, Mediacrooks exposing "the EXPOSERS".

  7. Why does a certificate in journalism make a person wise and expert, negotiator, analyzer and solution provider for all the problems on our Mother Earth?
    An Agent, A deal maker, know all Brahma?

  8. I have admired the news sense value of BBC and CNN. Their debates on HARD TALK or interviews of celebrities by LARRY KING LIVE are always fascinating and worth listening. I did not regret for the time spent listening after them.

  9. All i asked was a single question on Radi Tapes and she blocked me! She has to come clean on this, by apologizing (like Vir Sanghvi) and saying so to every Tweeple who ask her the same question. I am sure shw will read these comments as well.

    In the case of Ms.Kandasamy, she conveniently forgets that the beef eating "festival" was unnecessary and was programmed to belittle the Hindu's who revere and worship cows. If Barkha is insensitive to majority Hindu beliefs and support the perpetrator, where else do we air our anguish? On twitter - isn't it? What would have been her reaction if some hindu's were to hod a "Port Eating festival" at the same campus? Mayhem! The same Barkha would have called the Porkers as divisive forces! Such hypocracy.

    Barkha - I and my family switch off the channel anytime we see you on any programs. 99.9% of the time we don't watch any NDTV channels. We also don't watch ANY English news channels for that matter. We depend on Twitter for the true news and of course the likes of @Mediacrooks!

    Good riddance, news channels.

  10. As always you have managed to say what ails the MSM today. My own personal example, i have been sarcastic but never abusive, yet she blocked me like she must have innumerable other tweeples. Till our media is able to face people's brickbats with the same equanimity that they show towards praise, I can think that this war will continue and MSM will fight the war on the side of convenience!!!!


  11. Precisely, these english channels do not ryme with the Indian populace at large. They appear to be meant for page 3 people only, unfortunately.

  12. Do you want to get Barkha Dutt fired from NDTV?

    1. I can assure you she won't get fired. And if she does, the other two from the Congress trinity will happily take her in.

  13. Raviji

    Hear this. This crony media crooks and their standards.

    Our scum man, I mean, family scam man Vadra saab was at the HT Leadership summit.

    The unexpected resurfacing of the non-Mango Man in the world’s most democratic Banana Republic should have sent the top-notch print and television journalists present at the function scrambling for an interview, quote, off-the-record conversation, anything to show their respective audiences that they were on their toes, gathering news even at social events mainly utilised for networking. After all, converting Rs 50 lakh into assets worth Rs 500 crore is no small feat, and the public could do with a little ‘insight’.

    Vadra could and should have been asked to expound his future political plans, if any. After all, married into the Congress’s controlling dynasty, he publicly articulated a desire to carve a personal niche in politics during the recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly election. Another question that should legitimately have been asked is why he reportedly spends so much time abroad these days.

    Of course, none of that happened. What his presence at the HT Leadership Summit did establish is the sad fact that the mainstream media has reinstated the Omerta Code for the Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty. No one asked him any questions, and in fact he seems to have got the polite distancing treatment. Nor were there any explanatory stories the next day from ‘hitherto reliable sources’. The heavy duty news hounds present behaved as if they had not seen him, and for the Congress and its first family, it was business as usual.

  14. So BD, asking you through @MC - whats your next move? Tweeples socialites are up at arms against you, you blocking them, you are most welcome here to vent your ire against so many Anons following you. And a variety of topics for you to peruse and rant - maybe you'll learn some psychology of tweeples. The site is very democratic, don't fear you won't be flamed, you got to be saner unlike Ramani and the ilke. And yes, we don't take anyone to courts for conversation sake. Waiting in anticipation.

  15. As we salute the martyrs of 26/11 a very well-written timely tribute to Barkha on the eve of the anniversary.

  16. Simply Superb.

    It has become a habbit with @mediacrooks.

    Salute !!

  17. Hi Ravi. thanks for exposing Crookini Barkha. Excellent write up. I was told by one of my colleagues, a crook himself, to watch NDTV to know about India and Indian Media. Believe me Barkha and Razdan, ere nothing but very obnoxious. VC was good, but biased towards the crook Psuedo Gandhis was obvious. I stopped watching it three years back. God even can not save India if this Notorious Dirty TV station continues in its present form!

  18. I always hate the way likes of TOI and NDTV are working. They seem to patronize a few celebrities like SRK all the time! This is ridiculous.


Comments are welcome and are now being moderated due to excessive spam on older posts. Genuine comments by readers will not be blocked. However, comments that are off topic, abusive, defamatory or slanderous may be deleted. Comments disclosing personal information of individuals/entities will be deleted.Comments appearing here do not imply endorsement by author of this blog.