एचटी समिट के लिए एक करोड़ के प्रायोजक जुगाड़ने की जिम्मेदारी मुझे दी जाती थी : अनुपमा

Mukesh Kumar : एस्सार मामले में केवल शांतनु सैकिया का ही नहीं सात पत्रकारों के नाम लिए जा रहे हैं। इनमें से एक अनुपमा हिंदुस्तान टाइम्स की एनर्जी एडिटर हैं जिन्हें अख़बार ने निलंबित कर दिया है। लेकिन अनुपमा ने उलटवार करते हुए कहा है कि उनका अख़बार और संपादक उन्हें लगातार इस्तेमाल करता रहा है और एचटी सम्मिट के लिए एक करोड़ के प्रायोजक जुगाड़ने की जो ज़िम्मेदारी उसे दी जाती थी, वह उसे निभाती भी थी। इसी तरह दैनिक भास्कर के भी एक पत्रकार के इसमें शामिल होने का शक़ है। बाक़ी पत्रकारों के नाम अभी मिले नहीं हैं मगर पूरा मामला खुले तो राडिया कांड-2 जैसा होगा।

वरिष्ठ पत्रकार मुकेश कुमार के फेसबुक वॉल से.

इसी प्रकरण पर स्क्रॉल डॉट इन पर प्रकाशित खबर इस तरह है….

Hindustan Times staffer named in Essar case accuses senior editors of blurring ethical lines too

Management denies Anupama Airy’s charges that she was asked to arrange event sponsorships and facilitate a transfer from a public-sector firm.

-Supriya Sharma-

After her name surfaced in the PIL in the Essar Leaks case on Friday, Anupama Airy, the Energy Editor of the Hindustan Times, admitted to her editors that she had requested free car rides from the company for a friend.

Nicholas Dawes, HT’s Chief Editorial and Content Officer, told Scroll.in that since Airy’s conduct constituted a violation of the ethical standards of the paper, she had been suspended pending an enquiry.

But Airy decided to tender her resignation. She followed that move with an email to Dawes, which was copied to Sanjoy Narayan, the Editor-in-Chief, and Arnab Mitra, the National Business Editor.

In her email, she said she wished “to put things in perspective and understand how what I have done for a friend has amounted to taking a favour while what I have been doing for my bosses and asked to do for the organisation doesn’t amount to taking a favour”.

Event sponsorships

She alleged that she had been asked to help arrange sponsorships from energy firms for the HT Leadership Summit, an annual event held by the paper. “More that 1 cr worth of sponsorships every year. I have been used but I considered it my duty to do things for my organisation and my bosses,” she said.

The portfolio of sponsors for the last HT Leadership Summit held in November 2014 was heavily dominated by energy companies. As many as seven companies were listed as “partners”, including Essar, and public sector firms like ONGC, SAIL, NTPC, among others.

Airy accused Editor-in-Chief Sanjoy Narayan of seeking her help to get a transfer for a friend who worked in the government energy firm, the National Thermal Power Corporation. “Sanjoy you asked for a lady’s transfer…to you…from NTPC Chairman. I spoke to him.”

Responding to Scroll’s emailed questionnaire, Narayan said, “The allegations implied by the questions that you have listed are baseless, false, libellous and potentially damaging to me. As for sponsorship of HT Summit, the financing of the event is the responsibility of the company’s events division and not of the editorial department.”

Airy alleged that Arnab Mitra, the National Business Editor, asked her to seek help from corporations to sell copies of his novel. “Essar helped him by buying 250 copies and Reliance was also contacted to push sales amidst other cos. Then tweets on his book from a few others following a request from him.”

Mitra’s responded: “It is true that I had asked her to sound out some companies (I had not specified Essar or Reliance) to see if my book could be bought for corporate gifting. However, the editor-in-chief of HT refused permission for the same as there was a conflict of interest between my role as National Business Editor and the author of the book. So, I told her not to proceed with the matter. To the best of my knowledge, neither Reliance nor Essar bought copies of my book. Regarding tweets: Yes, I asked all my friends and colleagues to tweet on my book as there was no conflict of interest involved.”

Airy also alleged that Deputy Business Bureau Chief Gaurav Choudhury accepted expensive gifts from corporates which would be delivered to his house. Choudhury said those allegations were “incorrect.”

Responding to Scroll’s email on how the paper proposed to tackle the questions over editorial integrity arising from the episode, Dawes wrote:

    “Ms Airy drew these allegations to our attention last night, shortly after she chose to resign instead of participating in an inquiry into her own conduct. That inquiry would have been a good opportunity to ventilate her concerns, and to provide substantive evidence in support of her claims. It is regrettable that she has not done so.

    Nevertheless, we take these issues extremely seriously. The ability to demonstrate genuine independence, honesty, and transparency are critical to the trust our readers place in us. We will be reviewing the ethical environment across our newsroom operations comprehensively in the coming months, with a view to strengthening both our formal controls and our culture. We will not shy away from investigating individual transgressions that may emerge in this process, and we will take appropriate action where it is indicated, but we will also be thorough and deliberate.

    We do not believe it is wise or fair to make public statements against named individuals in the absence of both evidence, and a right-of-reply. That is the standard we applied in the case of Ms Airy and that we will continue in our ongoing efforts to strengthen newsroom standards.”

A steady slide

This is not the first time that the Indian media has been roiled with controversy over the ethical lapses of journalists. In 2010, the newsmagazines, Open and Outlook, published transcripts of the taped conversations of a corporate lobbyist, Nira Radia, with senior journalists, including Vir Sanghvi of the Hindustan Times and Barkha Dutt of NDTV. In the conversations, Radia sought the help of Dutt in influencing the decision of the appointment of the telecom minister. Sanghvi was heard discussing the slant of his column. Dutt has denied that the conversations amounted to an ethical impropriety. Saghvi said the tapes had been edited.

While the Radia Tapes controversy grabbed much attention, the steady erosion of ethics in newsrooms goes unnoticed. After he resigned on Friday, the editor of Mail Today, Sandeep Bamzai, whose name featured in the PIL in the Essar Leaks case as one of the journalists who asked for free car rides from Essar, told the Indian Express: “In hindsight, it was a stupid mistake. I needn’t have done that… but the fact is I did ask for the cab and I decided to pay for that mistake by resigning today…”

Airy’s letter, however, raises questions that go beyond individual indiscretions in accepting corporate gifts and favours. Should news organisations accept corporate sponsorships for their events, if it impinges on the independence of their editorial staff?

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