As a responsible scribe who is worried over the future of media industry, my most natural reaction to the recent scandals — Corporate espionage, Essar Leaks —- involving several media persons was one of utter shame. Shame that we Chennai journos don’t get to figure in any of the big-ticket scams.
In Chennai, at best, we can show off our connections (and we unfailingly do) with the local Corporation PRO or the neighbourhood beat constable. Beyond that, forget about currying favour with top companies, our writ doesn’t even run to get us reserved berths in passenger trains.
Yet, as a confession, I must concede that if you bother to tap a media personnel’s phone in these parts, it will cause more damage to journalism than Arnab Goswami ever can.
But the public must know the sordid truths, even if it concerns us journalists. So in a major and exclusive investigative operation, we decided to tap the telephone and tape the day-to-day conversations of a leading journalist, whose name we will not reveal, because, as you know, we hate self publicity.
(Editor’s Note: The first transcript reveals in excruciating detail the journo in complicit collusion with the forces of finance. The second bit of conversation exposes the state of journalism at a domestic level. ).
So here are the exclusive exposes
Write is Wrong
Bank Executive: Hello, this is to verify some details with regard to the personal loan you had applied for. For what purpose are you seeking the loan?
Journo: I explained everything in detail to your personnel yesterday…
Bank Executive: Our rule says that we have to go by the rules, sir. We need to cross-check every information and provide a report so that our higher-ups can cross-check the information we provide and make a report to their seniors.
Journo: You mean to say you are making a report on somebody else’s report so that someone else can make a report on your report?
Bank Executive: I don’t know, sir. But sir, I asked you why do you need the loan?
Journo: My case is similar, too. My request for loan is to repay a loan that I had taken from another bank, which itself was merged with another bank due to the fact many loans with it had been defaulted.
Bank Executive: Ok, ok, I will write that you need this personal loan for personal purpose. Ok, what is your profession?
Journo: I am a journalist. A humour columnist, to be precise
Bank Executive: Humour columnist? But what do you do for a living?
Journo: I just said that. I write funnies, typical light-hearted stuff, jocular things you know…
Bank Executive: Oh, you are a comedy piece-a? They pay you for that? (Audible sigh) When you said journalist, we thought you work on computers…
Journo: Actually, I work on a computer…
Bank Executive: But you just said you were a humour something… (More sighs) If you want to get the loan, stick to the computer thing. Forget journalist or that comedy part, no one will take you seriously.
Journo: You don’t seem to understand what I am saying…
Bank Executive: Just listen, when our field staff comes for physical verification, be seen working on a computer. We will describe your profession as an officer in your office. Do you understand? That is your only chance for the loan. And don’t confuse my person with journalism and all that.
(As this damning conversation makes it clear, forget credibility, the need of the hour for journalists is credit)
Wife: Hello, daughter’s school is about to end. Can we plan a quick vacation during the summer ‘hols’?
Journo: In April? Can’t make it. We have several vacation specials and compilations to work on.
Wife: What vacation specials? Are you talking of the ones that just itemize places to visit and things to do? You call them specials?
Journo: No, no, there are features and special reports …
Wife: Like, ‘Is Rahul Gandhi a leader in hiding?’ Is this a question to ask at all? This question has been asked every year for the last five years or so. And you journos still don’t know. Duh! (Audible smirk). Shahrukh, Dhoni, twitter, Apple… Don’t you guys ever get tired discussing the same lame things year after year? But we readers don’t even bother, that is why we take a vacation and don’t attempt to read or watch anything.
Journo: Stop, I don’t talk about your profession. So just shut up on mine.
Wife: Huh, I called you to know whether we can plan a holiday or not. But actually you people don’t need a separate vacation. When you peddle the same stuff year after year, I think you enjoy holiday all through.
(Sound of phone being slammed down)