Sunday, 8 February 2009

Chyetanya Kunte Vs Barkha Dutt & NDTV - A Fiasco

To those who are new to the Chetan Kunte ( Chyetanya Kunte) Vs. Barkha Dutt & NDTV s fiasco. Here are the salient points:-

Barkha Dutt reports live during the Mumbai attacks orchestrated by Pakistan sponsored terrorists and shows live coverage of NSG commando’s movements on national TV, thus possibly compromising the whole operation. This is well known in the media and the media have come under critism for the same from the San Fracisco Chronicle and The Christian Science Monitor.

The Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and The Information & Broadcasting Ministry, has expressed anger at the electronic media’s coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks & Kargil War. Hindu reported on “the famous shot” which killed 3 soldiers as below. The following quote from The Hindu summarizes it well.

The competition among news channels to score brownie points reminded him of the “famous shot” during the Kargil War that led to the destruction of an ultra-powerful artillery gun of the Army. Three soldiers died and the Colonel, who yielded to a woman reporter’s entreaty to fire the gun for the camera’s benefit was dismissed from service.

Senior government officials have been chafing at the “intrusive coverage” by the electronic media.

Admiral Mehta said he was disturbed by the “extra heavy reporting” on the attacks. “When operations are taking place, you are reporting that two commandos are going inside. They [terrorists] were in live contact with their masters, who were telling them what the channels were reporting. I think it requires a certain amount of restraint in ongoing operations. Do you really have to give minute-by-minute coverage? Media is an enabling instrument. Today it is a disenabling instrument.

Coming back to the Mumbai Attacks, Kunte writes a post entiteled “ Shoddy Journalism” – see Google cahe – scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.

• Following that Barkha & NDTV sends him a lawyer’s notice for libel here (See Barkha Dutt's comment) and Kunte takes down his post and publishes an apology.

* If you read the content of Kunte's apology carefully- he makes the points again that he has made in the post "Shoddy Journalism" and cleverly drafts an apology!

This has led to the a wave of anger in the blogosphere, on the David Vs Goliath situation. Obviously, Kunte has retracted his post as he is no match to the behemoth NDTV’s muscle.

What is ironic that the people ( read Barkha Dutt & NDTV) who espouse freedom of speech and shout about it from every nook and corner are the first ones who have tried to curtail the freedom of speech of another, in this case Kunte!

“We The People” (Tongue in Cheek) for Barka Dutt’s program on NDTV, have disliked this kind of behaviour so much that bloggers have been writing about this incident all over the world.

There are numerous Facebook groups that have become a medium for expressing an outrage for the common people, as this is being perceived a justifiable criticism of Barkha Dutts reporting.

The various groups protesting are:-

* Barkha Dutt for worst Jounalist on the planet

* Take Barkha Dutt off air.

* Barkha Dutt wants to Gag Free Speech.

To say that the behaviour of Barkha Dutt is beyond comprehension, even egregious, is a foregone conclusion.

If they had not reacted in such a manner and all this storm in a teacup would not have happened and Kunte's post might have have generated any reaction. The obvivous boomerang effect has been that bloggers have taken up Kunte's case and created a media hype which Barkha Dutt and NDTV will regret. This has forced Barkha & NDTV on a defensive.

The Indian journalists feel that they are the High and mighty and should not be criticised, esp. by a bloke with a computer. Barkha has wondered whether blogs should be regulated in the past and so has this kid.

This just goes to show that the Indian Journalists have not come to accept the point that Sousveillance is here to stay and that bloggers have the freedom to express their viewpoint.

The following are the reactions in The Blogosphere. Is NDTV & Bakra Dutt going to sue them all & Wikipedia and Twitter.

BTW, I read this NDTV's shot in its own foot and I am sure you will enjoy Reading CKunte's blogpost on NDTV as much as I did. It has since been removed, but thanks to Rohit who has made a PDF file availabe for us to read and grin. ;-)

Watch this space for further updates......

Edit: I thought this will be a small list - but I am surprised by the number of Bloggers who have taken up Kunte's cause and the number of people who have signed up on The Facebook. They are in the thousands!! Is Barkha listening to "We the people"???

* Desi Pundit writes about a Blogger is silenced By NDTV

* Shipriya - Shame on NDTV & Barkha Dutt

* Lekhni - writes a bed time Story about Blog freedom

* bangalore Bytes - Shame Shame NDTV

* The comic Project - Throw The constitution Away

* Rohit says that NDTV's assault on Free Speech

* Prem Panicker on When Free Speech Bears a Price Tag

* Sandeep says Barkha Dutt & NDTV - The Joke is on you

* Falstaff harks about Da Butt

*Vimoh writes - An Open Letter to NDTV

* Gaurav writes on Bullying By NDTV

* Prateek's take on Muffling a Blogger

* Gaurav condems Barkha Dutt & NDTV

* Amit's take on this incident

* Slacker slams NDTV

* NSG criticises Media

* Gaurav from vantage Point writes about NDTV

* Another Abhishek's take on NDTV

* Monterio's take is here

* Sanjukta's writes here

* Beyond work writes on NDTV

* Venkatesh Sridhar on Why NDTV lost His respect

* Amrutha writes about Intimidation By NDTV

* Trailblazer on Shoddy Intimidation

* Prasoon on Freedom of speech

* Naavi on NDTV need to Apologize

* Churumuri on Will Bakra & NDTV sue Facebook

* Rahul Siddharthan on a fan Letter to Barkha.

* Nanopolitician on Congratulations NDTV

* Arzan on Barkhagate

* Harini on Losing the Plot

* Amrit on Barkha Dutt

* Kufir on NDTV, Listen to the Defiance

* Binu on why barkha should walk the talk

* Vinod Sharma on Barkha Dutt & Free- Doom of Expression

* Binary on Mr Goliath, every action has a ten times large reaction

* Jo on Are we a free Country

* Rezwan on Indian Blogger silenced

* Mad Momma on We, The bloggers.

* Subaltern media on NDTV Vs Kunte

* Aditya Mhatre on Kunte vs NDTV

* Stop watching NDTV

* Veena on Libel & Truth Defense

* Pragmatic on Reject The biased media

* Chandni on You disappoint me Barkha Dutt

* Nick Farell on Indian Blogger Silenced

* Rakesh on Pigeon Heads

* Sandeep's take on Fragile basis to Support barkha Dutt

* Cyril Gupta on What's Wrong with barkha Dutt

* Barbar Indian's on taliban media

* Kufir at Blogbharti 0n Hail Barkha Dutt

* Manasi writes a balanced review on Withdrawl Symptoms

* Kiran's appeal on stop watching Empty Tv & Parkha Strutt

* Balaji on Screw barkha Dutt

* Shubho on The Megalomania of barkha Dutt

* Online Journalism Blog's here

* Arzhan on BarkhaGate

* Hemant Morajkar on Mediaah again: Indian blogospehere takes on NDTV

* Mayank on CKunte,NDTV and Barkha Dutt and the big farce of freedom of speech

* Subhash on Bed and Breakfast Delhi Blog

Media Stories

* Firos at Miday - Why Bloggers are angry With Barkha Dutt



simply61 said...

Just lovely.and NDTV and their kid brigade need to get off heir holier than thou perch and realise that freedom of speech cuts both ways.You can't demand the freedom to report live about sensitive things in the name of that freedom and then turn around and slam a notice on a blogger for criticising you.

savagepriest said...

NDTV and all these sucking news channels should away from attack places its safe for them and easier for the police to work but these jack ass actually try to increase their TRP rather then showing news they are obstructing and adding to soldiers problems making tasks more arduous

Anonymous said...

Simply have a list of sponsors for NDTV's program of We the people and send them open letters to those enterprises and stop buying their products. It works here at least.

Abhihsek said...

@ Simply 61,

Thank you. i hope that NDTV & Barkha Dutt realise this - as of now there is no sign of them doing so.

@ Savege Priest,
I think there is a policy being developed by the Govt. of India to avoid a repeat of Mumbai attack media coverage.

@ Annonymous,

I am afraid NDTV doesn't sell any products and the sponsors are big media houses who won't listen to the ordinary guys like us.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that some food for thought has been given to NDTV and its pervasive and invasive coverage.

In fact, I personally believe that in the IC 814 crisis, it was NDTV's coverage which included weepy interviews with the relatives of the hostages that forced the Government to release the terrorists in exchange for the hostages.

Suresh said...

It's unlikely someone's still following this, but still...

The Times (London) reports that a Vogue cover girl, Liskula Cohen, has won a case seeking to identify an anonymous blogger who called her a "skank." (I was not sure what this meant but Wikipedia set me right: it apparently means "slut.") From the article:

A Vogue cover girl has won a precedent-setting court battle to unmask an anonymous blogger who called her a “skank” on the internet.

In a case with potentially far-reaching repercussions, Liskula Cohen sought the identity of the blogger who maligned her on the Skanks in NYC blog so that she could sue him or her for defamation.

A Manhattan supreme court judge ruled that she was entitled to the information and ordered Google, which ran the offending blog, to turn it over.

I am just mentioning this here because there is a very clear connection with the Kunte case. It goes even further because it means that even commentators on a blog can be sued. For those interested, here's the link:

I hope this will be picked up by the Indian blogosphere and commented upon at some stage.

Nomad Lama said...

Today 21/10 episode she was discussing a topic about some dude named Vikram Buddhi who was jailed by US govt. for ..... Surprise, writing hate speech about that idiotic Bush and his policies on the internet.

talk about being idiotic and steryotypes.

Leo Caddy said...

The problem is fundamental to Indian "democracy". There is no disciplne in any section of society. From the politicians in Parliament to the reporters of a newspaper or TV channel, total lack of any ethical values.

NDTV, Aaj Tak, etc. are just like the American Fox News, creating live entertainment and reporting "news" with significant bias.

The media have to self-discipline themselves. The government should not get involved in this matter.

Our "military" operation against the attackers in Bombay was very poorly managed.

The police should have clamped a curfew and cordoned off the area for several kilometers, and not given any access to news reporters.

The authorities should have created a single press spokesperson to give out information. We had the Bombay police commissioner, the team leader of the commando unit, and politicians all giving their updates. It was so confusing and so typical of Indian life.

Abhishek said...

@ Leo,
Right said, Leo!
That was a un-organized & poorly managed show by the Indian authorities.
Other organizations learn from their mistakes, but from experience, I can tell you the same sordid tale is going to be repeated again.

Unfortunately, the intelligent don't go into Indian government or something happens to the intelligent Indian's who join the government. They behave like headless chickens, when crisis strikes.

Anonymous said...

The guy sure has a peculiar way of thanking people for their collective outburst against the big media. Try this: curl -I

Abhishek Arora said...


Yes, the guy is very strange! There was a collective outburst for him against the media and yet he has not even thanked anyone.

I think, he is so scared of the legal team of NDTV that he has wanted to erase the memory of the episode from everywhere.

I would have thought, anyone in his shoes, would at least be gracious enough to thank others for standing up for him - when he didn't for himself.

Amazing, isn't it!

Anonymous said...

Er..let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I mean here's one among just a handful of people in a population of over a billion[!] that had the guts to say something publicly in the first place. You & I didn't, even when the sensitive information like commandos landing etc were being shown on TV. Agree?

The apology may have been to avoid the legal hassle. Interesting to note that it appeared at 00:01 on Jan 26. It looks like he planned this date and time telling people that on the day we celebrate our democracy, shit happens. I remember there was a lot of chatter on Twitter about this.

The collective outburst I think was an outcry for the so called democratic values. Wonder if they even exist in reality seeing this. I didn't think anyone was expressing outrage "for him" or doing him any favor in particular. It probably meant "if it could happen to someone today, it could happen to me tomorrow, and I protest".

Here's the other thing - it is interesting to note that for a lot of people an apology was far more infuriating to speak about in public than expressing disgust at what TV was showing during 26/11. And this is the problem with us. People understand that there's safety in numbers and your chance of getting the notice drops drastically if you pile among hundreds of others presuming undietv wasn't still looking to sue more people while slapping themselves for this backfired move.

Also how would you know if he wasn't forbidden legally from expressing his reaction to all the hulla in blogs? Google for any settlement agreements for example and you will see that such things are not uncommon.

Anonymous said...

Believe me please

I was the happiest man in last 3 years when in the morning I discovered NDTV is removed from our locality in hyderabad.

Thank u thank u thank u GOD a TON.

Abhishek said...

If you have to say thank you to the people who stood up for you or are merely expressing disgust at NDTV & Barkha Dutt - all one has to do is to say Thank you to all out there who supported me - without any indication of what is being referred to!! You can do that or comment an annoymous as you are doing!

There are ways of getting around the legal wrangle!

Now ur posting as annoymous - I don't know who you are & it is not easy to prove who you are, even if i know the IP address of ur computer & the general location of ur computer, using site tracking metrics! The same can be done by others!

Commenting on the fiasco that was unfolding before our eyes & blogging about it - didn't even enter most people's mind - when we were sure that there is going to be a India-Pak war! Yes, he did & so many other's after him. Some were vocal & some were not! See the list above.

Unfortunately, he was the first & if this saga would have gone to court, NDTV would have had lots of reputation damage!

Abhishek said...

@annnoymous comment±2,

I have stopped listening to NDTV & Barka Dutt & do not visit their site. I am sure that there are many like you and me!

After this event, I have lost all respect for Barkha Dutt!
The girl just can't take any criticism, fame did go to her head!!

allogenic said...

My 2 cents...
Barkha Dutt is no different that any other TV reporter. The whole culture is something that makes TV journalism a necessary evil. Being necessary is fine but this evil part could have been avoided. we cannot really vote for tighter constraints on the media - that would be akin to stifling freedom of the press. The only hope to salvage the situation is news channels need to sober up and act mature on their own. Senior quality journos can show the way but the problem is that the masses still like to watch shit like IndiaTV or what whatever is more spicy today !

Saurabh said...

All these news channels have become 24*7 entertainment channels.

The channels like India TV can be a subject of Ph.D.

Anyways, nice post sir ji.

Silverglee said...

If you guys don't already know, there's a huge outcry in the Middle-Eastern blogosphere regarding Benihana's outlet in Kuwait (follow this hashtag on twitter: #BenihanaKUW). There's a striking resemblance between what Barkha Dutt did what Benihana have done. I will blog about this today / tomorrow. Will drop a link here once I'm done. (@silv3rglee)

Raj mehotra said...

I will send email about it. Streisanf effect any one ????