2014-03-04 10:00:07 UTC
Dear Mr. Kishor Naik Gaonkar
(President: Goa Union of Journalists)
Thank you for upping the ante on the issue of paid news in Goa. Your
continued pursuance of the protest path has finally forced the chief
minister Manohar Parrikar to express regret for his unfortunate and blanket
comments damning the journalist fraternity here.
As you may recall on Saturday, I had written to the Goa chief minister and
tagged along documentary evidence which showed that paid news has indeed
taken root in at least one leading newspaper, namely Herald.
The letter to Mr. Parrikar was accompanied by email transcripts between
former Herald editor and the newspaper's general manager Michael Pereira,
which clearly indicates that paid news was commonly practiced by the
Herald. This was perhaps the first time that a paid news-related paper
trail has surfaced.
The same documents, which held identify paid news practices during the run
up to the 2012 assembly elections have been uploaded on Facebook and have
also been attached along with this email for your reference.
As you are aware, the phenomenon of paid news is slowly taking a vice-like
grip on the functioning and decision-making in several newspapers,
published in both English and vernacular languages. If attempts are not
made soon to combat it, sincere journalists plying their trade may find the
going difficult to even survive in the profession.
My request to you as the head of the only organisation in Goa which also
acts as a custodian of journalists' interests, is to ensure that my
complaint to the chief minister is collectively pursued to ensure that the
highest authority in the land gets to the bottom of the matter. I would
appreciate that GUJ, with the resources and manpower it has at its
disposal, follows up the complaint with the chief minister.
I am also requesting you to impress upon Mr. Parrikar to initiate a
judicial probe into the practice of paid news in the Goan media. The email
transcripts have enough material in them to serve as a starting ground for
such a probe by a retired judge, which could once and for all help identify
those black sheep in our profession and expose them to their readers. It
would be an honourable first for the GUJ to become the journalistic body in
the country to demand for such a probe on the basis of documentary
evidence. A judicial probe in Goa's increasingly corrupt media scenario
would also send a signal to journalistic fraternities across the country to
GUJ should also take the responsibility to use its offices to formally
complain to the Press Council of India and the chief electoral officer for
Goa, mentioning the specific instances of paid news which are made out in
these email transcripts. This would only be in sync with your public appeal
on Monday (March 3), where you implored to journalists and the public at
large to approach GUJ with specific complaints about paid news, which you
assured would be taken up with the relevant authorities.
I hope you will seriously consider the requests I have made in this email
and take up the challenge to weed out or thwart the influence of paid news
within the Goa media.