Friday, July 08, 2005

Sources, resources...

One of the biggest lies in Indian journalism today is 'sources'. From TV to print the number of 'anonymous sources' credited for being the ultimate sources of every story is one of the biggest jokes around. Sources, analysts or whatever could mean something that my bai told me for all you know. Lets look at the largest culprit of 'sources' - The Economic Times. There are days that the entire front page of the paper is attributed to vague 'sources', sure, some of them are extremely genuine and are stories written by reporters I know fairly well, but when these guys don't reveal 'sources' even during idle chit-chat you begin to wonder.
Its not as if I haven't always named everybody in the stories I write. Sometimes, you are doing a story on company 'A' and a official from company 'B' gives you a stinker of a quote sometimes these come from stock/sector analysts (any analyst working in a MNC bank, is usually is too too shit scared to be named, after all why would anyone want to lose a seven figure job for opening their gob), but doesn't want to be named. The final copy doesn't name the guy, but he knows and I know he said it, and to cover my tracks, usually I mention this person to my eds. But sources are very often very dubious and want a particular story written for agendas to get covered. There are journalists, rather people who masquerade to be journalists who are nothing more than semi-official spokespersons for various people. Mani Aiyar has several of these in his pocket, just like Mrs G and Chiddu Chodu (who I just discovered was at the airport flying Kingfisher and was getting a lot of attention from the Kingfisher girls - beat that Fatty shares his women, who would have thought it?). The Ambani brothers, particularly Anil also have many journalists in their pockets. Therefore, we were subjected to story after story quoting strange 'sources' during the Reliance saga.
Anyway, I started this post to talk about the painful case of Judith Miller, the Time reporter who has gone to jail for not revealing her sources. I don't have very much respect for reporters, considering Time's India reporter Alex Parry is pretty much an idiot (Gautam Goswami - Asia's heroes fame) no matter what Brunch says. Now Ms Miller is being sent to jail for a story she didn't even print. You just gotta love the Americans. Pat Oliphant has a great cartoon on this..

Why do I think if events ever came to such a pass in India, all publishers (Jain&Jain, AP, Aveek, Shobhana et al.) do exactly the same thing as described.
Would I reveal my sources if a court asked me to? I guess not, I will protect the source(s). Or so I'm saying right now. However, keep in mind I do have some hipocritical tendancies, I took a three-wheeler to office today.

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