Month: July 2014

Takedown and Rest

Controversy erupted on social media after DNA took down Rana Ayyub’s article critical of the government. Responding to this criticism the editor of DNA decided to blog an explanation which I found rather amusing and decided to do a spoof on it. Unlikely, but if the editor ever reads this spoof, I hope it is taken in a good spirit. I hold no ill feelings towards the editor.

This spoof contains the original text of the explanation along with the satirical addition in italic font. So here we go.


Takedown and Rest

There has been a fair amount of traffic on my twitter TL on an article that was taken down in the DNA. People have, rightly, asked for an explanation. And since this issue has gone viral on the internet let me write something to confuse you.

Fact checking, misrepresentation of facts etc all good excuses/explanation to give when u pull down an article. However, they all sound rather silly – especially given that you have published it. Since you have already noticed that I call these excuses good in the first line and silly in the next, this will help me set the tone for the rest of this good-silly explanation.

Sometimes silence is better than a hastily cobbled together justification. And, everything doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theory. Nor does everything have to be high drama. Sometimes there are simpler explanations. Only this time I have none.

I could say editorial prerogative. But, that would be arrogance and since I am trying to do damage control here it won’t be wise to look arrogant (Damage Control 101 hehe).

I could blame the author, but that would be cowardice. (Actually I just blamed the author without looking like a coward *Lulz*) 

I could blame the government or my ‘bosses’ but that would be a lie. And if I speak the truth I won’t have a job because that will totally destroy the credibility of the website. Also notice how I wrote ‘bosses’ in quotes, this is to give you an impression that we don’t have a boss culture at DNA, we are all friends (Until you formally join us as an employee *Hehe*) .

I could say I didn’t know it went up, but that would be cop out and also a lie because in the next paragraph I am going to admit that I read the article before it went online *chuckles*.

Fact remains, I should have caught onto something that was in the piece, but I didn’t. I did exactly what I have ranted about, and outraged about for the last decade – that is in the need for speed, the desire to be first, to put out a piece, I didn’t look at it with the attention that it deserved. It was not a breaking news story which could have waited for few days, this was an opinion column which had to be published with utmost urgency.  Being an editor is a busy job because of which I hardly get any time for editing.

We have run far more scathing pieces by the author on Mr.Shah and they are still on-line. If I pulled down this one, it was for a good reason, and that reason is not fear. At this point I know you are very curious to know what the real reason is but I won’t tell you just yet because like I mentioned earlier in this good-silly explanation, not everything has to be high drama.

I can understand readers ire on this, and appreciate the author’s anger – i would have felt the same way if i was in her place. If I had the time on the day to make a call and sort it out, I would have. Unfortunately, I didn’t.  I was in a very long conference, where our phones were tucked safely away in our bags. Which is also the reason why I couldn’t respond to newslaundry. Nowadays it is common practice for senior editors to remain incommunicado for the whole working day because there are obviously others who can approve news that goes online and if something goes wrong, I have a blog.

Now to something else  – when other TV editors/websites write about this, they obviously suffer from selective amnesia.  they have pulled out, pulled back, changed tack on issues. Was it fear, favor or fickleness? Or all three – that made them do this? Did I just list all the possible reasons for the disappearance of a piece from a news website? *Hehe* Please ignore.

And I am not even going into other areas of breach of ethics such as the cash for votes sting, or Radia tapes (hehe I just did exactly that and took the moral high ground too), I am simply looking at spiked stories, and stories that disappeared. As journalists we are supposed to look after each other. I won’t write anything when they screw up and I expect the same from them. What they have done breaches every aspect of professional journalism.

Seriously, I can appreciate reader ire, I can’t figure the hypocrisy of other media professionals. They know exactly what they had suppressed in their entire career. Am sure if you follow any good news monitoring website you will know some of what has been taken off, what they have changed tack on, and where they have spiked their own stories. I have followed such good news monitoring website for ages but never said a word because I understand what professional journalism is. The primary duty of any journalist is to protect the mistakes of fellow journalists and I will never compromise on this principle.  

I have not responded to this on twitter as  there are no 140 character explanations for things like this. Hence, this blog. But I wont tweet a link to this blog because there are some nasty trolls out there who may write a spoof on my carefully crafted good-silly explanation. Better to be safe than to be sorry *Hehe*.   

And finally, far as the TOI piece  is concerned – cute, very cute. Must be the first time that the ToI has run a piece naming a competitor without routing it through medianet. I just have one thing to tell TOI, watch your back. The favor shall be returned.

– Your Truly,

Editor DNA (Do Not Admit)