Barkha Dutt slams NDTV over double standards, says channel's 'free speech crusader' image is a lie

Former NDTV journalist Barkha Dutt has lashed out against her ex-employers, taking to Facebook to launch a scathing criticism of the media house's senior leadership, editorial team and her former colleagues.

Barkha Dutt slams NDTV over double standards, says channels free speech crusader image is a lie

Barkha Dutt. Image courtesy: Twitter/@BDutt

Dutt, who had earlier voiced her opinions against NDTV's policy on "axing stories", on Monday, railed against what she called "hypocrisy" — the channel opting to project an anti-establishment crusader image while seeking help from BJP leaders and ministers in private.

Dutt took potshots at NDTV managing editor Sreenivasan Jain for claiming the channel dropped his stories over legal concerns. She said the management had also dropped her articles in the past, but she didn't create any outrage over it.

"While I worked there, I did so within the confines of the newsroom, as I thought going public was indecorous. Yet, the management told me that my not batting for them in public in defence of their decision to drop interviews was a 'betrayal'. So, is the suggestion that I should have done what a former colleague just did — dissent in public, embarrass the organisation, claim the high moral ground, and yet conveniently stay on?" she wrote on Monday, clearly referring to Jain without mentioning him by name.

She further added that while every news organisation kills articles — some more than others — other groups don't act "morally superior and smug and above everybody else" like NDTV did.

"Others don't pretend....they don't claim to be something they are not. They don't stand at press clubs and say 'don't crawl' while seeking appointments with BJP head honchos by night. This has not been denied by NDTV simply because there are enough witnesses to these meetings and phone calls and they can't deny them," she wrote.

Dutt's outburst was a continuation of the problems she has had with the functioning of the media behemoth.

On 18 October, she had pointed out that a few other stories were pulled down by NDTV.

"An interview that Nitin Gokhale did with the outgoing navy chief was taken down. There were other guests who we were instructed not to call on the channel but the management did not want to put this in writing lest the mail leaked. I was disallowed from pursuing a story on what was called the Jayanti Tax controversy. I was given hell for a story I did on Robert Vadra; the only reason that story was not taken down was because it was already published on the website and at the time the management was convinced that it would draw too much attention to take it down later. Then, an innocuous bread and butter interview I did with P Chidambaram was taken off air during the aftermath of the surgical strikes. An internal memo was circulated to justify this and went so far as to say that no politician should be given airtime — a diktat that lasted all of a day," she had written earlier.

The 18 October post by Dutt was in response to Sreenivasan Jain's criticism against the company, where the managing editor had also complained about his stories against Jay Amit Shah were taken down by the channel.

"A week ago, a report by Manas Pratap Singh and me on loans given to Shah's companies was taken down from NDTV's website. NDTV's lawyers said it needed to be removed for 'legal vetting'. It has still not been restored. This is deeply unfortunate since the report is based entirely on facts in the public domain and makes no unsubstantiated or unwarranted assertions. A situation like this presents journalists with hard choices. For now, I am treating this is as a distressing aberration and have decided to continue to do the journalism that I have always done — on NDTV. All of this has been conveyed to NDTV," said Jain's post on Facebook.

This post by Jain seems to have opened up a can of worms within the NDTV media empire. And if other journalists start narrating incidents they have faced on this issue, the slope could get very slippery very fast for NDTV.

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Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 11:55:21 IST

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