November 23, 2010

On "We, the Tweeple", Barkha Dutt.. On what she did, what she didn't and #barkhagate


Ok, here goes in a bit more detail than I did in this POST , and forgive the venom (if you find any, I've tried hard not to show the bile & vitriol within). I've snipped out the unnecessary witticism and the overtly self-aggrandizing tone that I'd in mind when I started writing this post, because since then several things have happened :
  1. Twitter, the most crash prone site in the world has altered its trending  algorithm to no further track a trend beyond 7 days
  2. The entire Indian Twitterati & I'm sure the world at large is outraged at this , because this comes at a particularly unfortunate time for an evolving national Issue here in India and Twitter chooses to do this rather than invest money in improving their site without inconveniencing current users and the way they use twitter
  3. #Barkhagate which was, the top trend in India, the longest continuous running trend worldwide(?) and linked to an evolving national issue coinciding with a really shameful mainstream media blackout and covered only on Twitter, sudeenly vanished off the charts and the entire movement lost some steam.
  4. Quickly though, the twitterati regrouped to ensure that a new hashtag #mediamafia  was used, started trending and is currently quickly and  in no time back to being the top trend in India
  5. Twitter  especially @ev & @biz - Evan Williams  & Biz Stone owe  us Indian Twitterati an explanation for this outrageously unacceptable turn of events
  6. I'm no conspiracy theorist , but I'm like this wonly.. if a smell a rat I'm sure as hell not satisfied by  the perfume sprayed by  my friend who didn't find the rat and clean the room !!! [ In this case the algorithm argument, which doesn't satisfy me much mind you & I'm a reasonable guy!!]
  7. Twend.it the trend spotting site was  also under my scanner this morning when I woke up to find #barkhagate off the trend lists , here in Ouagadougou (GMT India - 5:30 ) but I've received direct clarifications from their founders @nickdfillipo & @tim_kelleher, and am satisfied that they are only reflecting  Twitters reality.
First :
If you've been living under a rock( that's most people in India who're following the mainstream media or MSM) take a look first up at #barkhagate on Twitter. For good measure be sure to look up also #mediamafia ; #MSMSux ; #haramipatrakar & #Barkharadia, any or all of these will be the next top trending hashttag on Twitter if anything goes wrong, also I'm sure the twitterati is in no mood to relent until our Mainstream Media picks up this story in good faith and carries stories that have substance. So far, the count is poor on this. Have a look at the endless links, articles, twisecracks, twarcasms, twebates and twitterness generally thats unfolding on Twitter.
Second:
Take a moment and forget everything you just read
  • Now visualize for yourself what you expect of a responsible journalist.
  • Think of the names of journalists who fit that mould
  • Also think of newspapers, online journals, TV channels that you respect and feature these names
  • Park the result of that thought process somewhere, we'll come back here in a bit...
  • Whatever your parameters ,the stage is set for me to put my views forth, feel free as  I mention in my header to comment.. You have as much access to a keyboard / touch-pad / whatever u use to post on the net as  I do , and equal rights to use it.
Now, here goes:
Barkha DuttVir SanghviRajdeep SardesaiPrabhu Chawla were involved in conversations with one Radio Nadir (Or Niira Radia ) who happens to be corporate PR lobbyists number one!! (or pick a large negative number to indicate  that she talks at least with everybody who is anybody and their relatives )
No hassles so far, She's a  PR person (Ms Radio Nadir), they're journos, if they didn't talk it wud be silly to expect either of 'em to get on with their jobs, what's the fuss all about anyway??
To follow the drama, lets  introduce the cast (and acronyms):
  • We, the allegers (ppl who are raising brouhaha and calling for resignations en masse, or the WTA for short)
  • We the Tweeple (ppl who are generally tweeting non stop about #barkhagate and making it the top tweet trend in India for 5 days non-stop, or the WTT for short)
  • We the Feeble (ppl who are aware and unconcerned, ppl who are unaware and unconcerned, or the WTF for short) - Silent members of the Cast
  • We the Top Honcho Journos ( journos whose journalisitc abilities have shrunk just as much as their fame & bank balances  & hubris have grown -- again I allege nothing here , mind it! The WTTHJ for short)
  • We the Napunsak ( this is how we can refer to the mainstream media (MSM) in general , or the WTN for short) - Silent Members of the Cast ( And this what gets my goat!!)
WTA are alleging she used her influence/ PR skills/ maybe the bank accounts of  her  Corporate Honcho backers/ and even apparently on occasion intervention of god-like  real people to influence:
  • Large decisions at  Govt. level
  • Stories abt  topics important to her clients
If  this group (WTA) are right and there has been quid pro quo, it's illegality (?) , unethicality and a whole host of similar things that WTTHJ are responsible for and an example has to be made..oh yeah!!!
If not, then they (WTTHJ ) can have free reign and continue to go back to life as usual doing what they've always done, and they WTA, especially WTT,  stand to be ridiculed shamed and pounced upon for having raised inane and trivial doubts  without first:
a) verifying facts
b) waiting for a proper judicial enquiry and  court verdict
c) generally being mean, unresponsive to logic and boorish
d) not considering the larger ramifications of spouting venom/enthusiasm/cleverness-and-a-half without restraint
e) engaging in a trial by  media/twitter as you prefer
Right??!!


I think it doesn't quite work that way , my points first  off are:
  • That WTT  (go back a bit, and see  sub-points a, b, c,d & e ) have at worst acted like WTTHJ
  • At best we've been very very  much better than you
  • In fact, I'd go so far  as to congratulate  WTT for work akin to what WTTHJ used to do before they became , well WTTHJs
If you're convinced otherwise, and nothing  I say  can add value, please feel free to stop reading this blog right now and  Goodbye & Goodnight to you!!
[Incidentally , this is Barkha Didi's favourite way of debating, not mine, so show/reserve your vitriol for her. Or did you already  do so on Twitter ?? LOL ]
An example personified, like it or leave it, to prove the above is naturally one of the aforementioned WTTHJ , viz. Barkha Dutt. - by her own admission on her twitter account she hates being made the face of this( Poor Lady!).Personally, I would have rather made  Prabhu Chawla the face of this (despite not having heard his conversations / completely read his transcripts ) because if there is even a merest molecule of impropriety in his handling of this sordid affair then shakes my confidence in one of Indian Journalisms finer gems (my confidence in MSM was next to zero since the year 2000 anyways, and those who follow this blog will know I refer to our media's shoddy and incompetent turn out during the IC 814 hijacking) but then let's be honest, he's not as well known as BD is.
And in either case, when the story broke , late as it did, and on twitter , why was he silent if he was so above board???
Since, I proceed with what could be construed as a personal attack against someone, let me clarify (I am not afraid of anyone suing me , may they feel free to send me legal notices till doomsday, and am confident of my chances in any court, even Indian ones, never mind how slow or arbitrary their processes may be !!) that  I shall proceed with extreme caution henceforth to ensure I don't in this post violated any  of points (a),(c) &(d)above, EVEN if I have in recent past on Twitter (which I have not!). As of now, point (b) doesn't concern me , not for the point I'm trying to make and as for (e), well there is such a thing as karma in this world and what goes around comes around especially for our friend Barkha Dutt (BD) , so again not unduly bothered about violating point (e).
1) Prima facie the tapes , especially those involving BD don't seem to indicate  much too much wrong doing by  either Vir Sanghvi or BD. But they are definitely not sounding like neutral Journalists , With Barkha Dutt sounding exactly like the pro-congress stooge that many of us (And I don't mean Hindutva Agenda pushers when I say us, because I'm not one) think she is, NOR despite disclaimers , has Vir Sanghvi's actions/ writings in real life  off the tapes matched up to his stated explanation.
2) The larger point that  I believe most sane voices on Twitter are repeatedly stressing is that this not about the tapes at all , and certainly nothing personal against that incompetent, irresponsible and  highly biased journalist whom we all commonly know by name of Barkha Dutt  (my opinion , which I am willing to defend in court backed with facts !!)
She remains till date the face of Indian Journalism. And while it was awe inspring  when she  was sitting next  the LATE Vikram Batra and he said " Yeh Dil Maange More !"
It has'nt remained all that awe inspiring as the years unfolded. The wrinkles have appeared , the scowl is revealed , and now the  sham it's based on stands exposed as well !
Oh Yes Barkha Didi ...
We The Tweeple (WTT) remember Kargill
(Though there are those amongst us who would find cause to fault you on your conduct there as well , I let that ball drop for the moment)
WTT also remember  IC 814
And the Mumbai Bombings of 2006
And the Mumbai attacks of 26/11
And We've seen and been disgusted by the way you conduct "We, The People"
And We've seen you defending yourself these past few days  on twitter
And We're not impressed
And We're not happy
And We've seen you attacking and coercing blogs off air in the past
And We're not scared of you, or  NDTV, or your lawyers
And We're Disappointed, with the media in general
And YOU in particular
And We're disgusted at all these scams
And We'll get to tweeting on them as well
And We're going to speak out
And We'll do it on twitter
And We'll do it on our blogs
And We'll trend #barkhagate
And when it fails We'll trend #mediamafia
If that fails We'll trend #MSMsux or #haramipatrakr or #BarkhaRadia but We'll not let it go this time
And We hate A Raja too , and like you (say publicly) We'd like to see him in court.
But We'd like to see you in court as well if you've done something wrong.
And We'll certainly respect you no more even if you haven't done anything illegal in this Radio Nadir (Niira Radia) tapes scandal, because your actions haven't been all that conscionable
And you dont reserve Our respect and never have for , well, it's been years now
We're sick and ashamed of the Indian mainstream media
And We shall concern ourselves no more with egotistical, insufferable EGOs like yours, unless it is to bring them down a peg or two.
This post is finished.
Feel free to let the comments pour, and i will respond to each if  required, at my own leisure
(Because frankly, I'm nauseous and  I must leave now and throw up all I've eaten since morning )