At last you took up the gauntlet with your cover story, News You Can Abuse (Dec 21). Rupert Murdoch set the rot rolling; the Times of India group replicated it successfully here. Following the ‘leader’, all media acquired the taint. Baldev S. Chauhan, Shimla
That the media should observe standards higher than those of the rest of the society is mere wishful thinking. When there’s corruption all around, it’s ridiculous to expect our media professionals to be Mahatmas. R. Sajan, Desam, Kerala
I’m no politician, but was approached by a marketing man from a well-known daily with an ‘exclusive’ publicity and image-building offer in 3 packages: silver (Rs 6 lakh), gold (Rs 12 lakh) and platinum (Rs 18 lakh). The more expensive the package, the more news items there would be about me, spread out over a year. I was told I’d be asked my opinion on various issues, my attendance at a conference would be highlighted and a picture of me appear on their equivalent of page 3! Many newspapers, in their desperate bid to survive in this electronic world, are jettisoning a few ethics themselves. Ajit Harisinghani, Pune
Why blame only regional newspapers, national media houses are no better. The Hindu, for instance, published an account of its editor’s enlightening experience at a Tamil refugee camp in Sri Lanka even as the UN condemned the deplorable situation there. Manivannan, on e-mail
Rich that Outlook should publish a story about journalism on sale and some pages down the line sell four pages to the likes of Nitin Gadkari, and another one to Narendra Modi. Keertan, on e-mail
Why just politicians, corporates for a long time, and the film industry now, are not averse to paying journalists for favourable reportage. Nilanshuk Haldar, Mumbai
The Outlook story covers only a seasonal aspect of journalism on sale—during elections. Corporate journalists have long been on sale, making and unmaking the future of companies, especially during ipos. Vinayak Prabhu, Mumbai
The fourth estate has become the prime blackmailer, holding all other estates to ransom. V.R. Kosuri, Hyderabad
During a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the electoral form, I had raised the very issue of journalism on sale and apprised the House on how opinion polls are televised to favour a particular political party and how money plays a role both in the print and electronic media. Haryana wasted more than Rs 50 crore on publicising the achievements of its CM a few days before the elections. Pages in all vernacular newspapers were on sale to the candidates. The worst kind of corruption in the media was witnessed this election, both in Maharashtra and Haryana. Tarlochan Singh, Rajya Sabha MP
If your cover story is any indicator, then the day won’t be far when people are asked to pay money for appearances on TV or having their articles and letters published. Venkatesh G., Chennai
I don’t know how long it will stay this way but as of now I am glad I don’t have to pay a penny to write this letter. Prashant Rajput, Mumbai
Outlook spoke of corruption in the Andhra Pradesh media, but it should have travelled further south to Kerala and seen how the overcrowded print and electronic media here creates news instead of reporting it. Nawas Ahamed, Kollam
People like me stick to the Times of India and its regional language dailies only because they guarantee enough raddi to pay for part of the subscription! Mahesh Adhav, Thane
By making some money in the present, the media is sacrificing its future. Dinesh Kumar, Mumbai
I am astounded that the English media can actually think it can fool the people with paid news. Remember that Indira Gandhi was defeated in the 1977 polls despite the English press being unable to raise its voice against the Emergency. G. Vijayaraghavan, Chennai
You have not touched upon the worst kind of corruption—the one that Outlook practices—of distorting news to help vote-bank secularists! Maj Gen S.C.N. Jatar, Retd, on e-mail
This is with reference to the accusations carried in Outlook magazine dated December 21, 2009 on page 36 against Hindustan, a publication of our group. We vehemently deny all the points made therein and have the following facts to state:
1. HT Media strongly believes in the integrity of its editorial function and zealously guards the same. It is a value that has helped us nurture and grow such successful brands as The Hindustan Times, Hindustan and Mint.
2. We do not pass off sponsored news in the garb of editorial content. To the specific instance related to the Varanasi edition of Hindustan quoted in your magazine, the articles were published under the advertiser sponsored content tag. Owing to a mistake by an overzealous advertising manager, the style and look turned out to be similar to the main paper. To remove any confusion among our readers, a clarification was issued the very next day on the front page of Hindustan’s Varanasi edition. The erring manager was also suitably reprimanded. We have had no instance of any editorial transgression other than the unfortunate incident stated above.
3. For all our publications, we have clear guidelines for ‘sponsored’ features that get carried with a clear notation or marking and in a look and style that is visibly different from our editorial content.
4. In the same article, you also allege that the erstwhile editor of Hindustan resigned owing to the incident in the paper’s Varanasi edition, among other things. Nothing could be farther from the truth as the said incident took place in April 2009, while the editor resigned five months later in September 2009 due to entirely different reasons. The said editor has also denied this in a televised programme on CNBC TV18 on December 16, 2009.What is most galling in this entire episode is that a magazine of your repute did not even care to validate facts before publishing the same. Not only does this tarnish our reputation, it also has the potential to severely impact our business interests.
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