March 05, 2007

life in journalism: many media editors in india bend backwards for corporate and political bigwigs

Below is the gist of a real-life phone conversation in India between a journalist and his/her editor (unfortunately, I can not reveal identities, but if you are/become a reliable friend of mine I can disclose it on the phone):

"Editor (angrily): "Why haven't you managed to arrange for a column article by any popular chief of AAAA (one particular corporate sector)? There is no time to wait. Get it fast."

Journalist: "I have approached 2-3 corporate heads that fit your criteria and even followed up with them continuously but have not received any confirmation from them; in fact one of them has explicitly declined to contribute."

Editor (angrily): "You should have got it from one."

Journalist (also now worked up, but at a great risk to his/her future prospects in that media company): "I am sorry but I can not go around begging these corporate heads to write a column for us."

Editor (angrily): "I don't want to listen to this crap. You have to do your job even if you have to beg."

Journalist: "My job does not involve begging."

Editor: (angrily cuts off the phone connection)........"

The above is the story of many media (print and television) editors in India who are allowing themselves to be manipulated and abused by political and corporate bigwigs and also expect their correspondents to do the same. Of course, in front of the pubic and their readers/viewers, they try to portray themselves to be upright and brave.

Do the readers/viewers fall for their tricks? I wonder. At least the corporates and their PR (public relations) firms and politicians don't. Barring a few (who conciously choose not to manipulate) they have perfected the art of manipulating the media editors. One technique is that of being accessible to one and denying access to the other. Which is exactly why the journalist in the above case was not being given confirmation by the corporate bigwigs he/she had approached due to his/her editor's demands.

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