Letter to The Hoot: Sour grapes?
The Hindu has been lambasted by a former employee for doing all the right things,
feels S BALAJI. Is there anything wrong in having `internal censors', he asks.
Wednesday, Mar 30 14:16:58, 2011
I am a longtime reader of The Hindu and have my likes and dislikes in equal measure for the paper. The article 'Inside newspapers and governments' by Malarvizhi Jayanth makes an interesting read but does not help one to arrive at any conclusion about the newspaper. It excites the detractors of The Hindu as much as Wikileaks excites The Hindu and its ardent readers.
She points out that the newspaper has “internal censors” and it is not a surprise that it scrutinises every report. It only adds weight to the credibility of The Hindu. Also, the editors are responsible for content as much as the journalists. I have sent nearly 30 letters to The Hindu and had 4 or 5 published. The internal censors had decided that the rest were not good enough.
Then there is the issue of credibility of evidence in investigative journalism. As a reader, I would definitely rank credibility very highly (sadly missing in most exposé journalism, especially by 24/7 news channels). Take the instance of booth capturing. No one denies its existence in Tamil Nadu. Even The Hindu did some coverage in its sister publication, The Frontline (http://www.hindu.com/fline/fl2402/stories/20070209002603800.htm). While complaining about the lack of coverage for her findings, the writer fails to tell us about the nature of the supporting evidence apart from personal evidence. How credible is "personal evidence"? Is that enough for an article to be published? What if the politician offers a better counter argument? Wikileaks gains credibility from the fact that it is now well accepted and the US Government has not denied the existence of those cables. It is a separate question whether The Hindu should be publishing Wikileaks findings in the first place, given that they contain mere opinions backed by circumstantial evidences.
The issues investigated by the writer are very important. If the writer felt that the “internal censor” is not giving adequate importance, why didn’t she approach other senior journalists and seek support for her work? She could have even collaborated with them. Did she try blogging? Did she approach other organisations for taking actions on those issues and add some more credibility to her work? Given the relative “inexperience” of the writer in journalism, I don’t see anything wrong in working with senior journalists. There are journalists in The Hindu who are well reputed for reporting on social issues.
The writer is perplexed “about why a newspaper that will publish Sainath chose to dance over a tightrope when it came to the Tamil Nadu government’’. The latter part of the statement is the writer’s opinion which has not been backed by enough evidence. Also, P.Sainath has credibility because he has worked for more than a decade on social issues. It baffles a reader as to why the newspaper should be giving the same respect to her work in less than 3 years of her association with them.
Finally, while the writer must be appreciated for her honesty in disclosing the fact that she quit due to a dispute over pay, it also helps the reader to dismiss the entire article as a piece of “sour grapes.”