Hindustan Times journalist who quit over Essar leaks questions senior editors about professional ethics
Flix Monday, March 02, 2015 - 05:30
Dhanya Rajendran | The News Minute | February 28, 2015 | 3.12 pm IST Follow @dhanyarajendran Internal emails exchanged between one of the journalists who resigned as fallout of the Essar Leaks and her senior editors is an insight into the nature of the general system within which large media houses and corporates operate. Energy Editor of Hindustan Times Anupama Airy, whose name was included in leaked Essar mails as one of the journalists who had requested free car rides from the company, had resigned from her post on Friday afternoon, although the newspaper had suspended her pending an enquiry. In an email written on Friday to HTĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Chief Editorial and Content Officer Nicholas Dawes and Editor-in-Chief Sanjoy Narayan, Airy admits that she had taken the cab, but for a third person, and has raised serious allegations against others in the organization.Â The newspaper has however, denied these allegations. She had said in the email that she requested the cab services as help from a friend she has known for years, and not on a professional basis as a journalist seeking favours from a company. She says she wished to understand how, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“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 favourĂ˘â‚¬Âť. Favours for others in office Airy alleges in the mail that National Business Editor of Hindustan Times Arnab Mitra had sought help from many including her to sell copies of his book. She claims that he sought her help to ask corporates to buy the book. She has also mentioned that Mitra had asked her to organize a car for her, and adds, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“However he didn't take it later.Ă˘â‚¬Âť Mitra told Scroll: "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.Ă˘â‚¬Âť HT Leadership summit sponsorship Airy mentions that Sanjoy Narayan had sought her help to get sponsorships from energy firms for the HT Leadership Summit.Â She also claims she had been asked to bring in more than Rs 1 crore worth of sponsorships every year for the annual HT Leadership Summit, and says: Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I have been used but I considered it my duty to do things for my organisation and my bosses.Ă˘â‚¬Âť Airy also alleges that another senior editor had no qualms in accepting expensive gifts from corporates. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“He asks them to leave these things home and not in office,Ă˘â‚¬Âť she claims. Editor of Hindustan Times Sanjoy Narayan dismissed these allegations as Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“baseless and libelousĂ˘â‚¬Âť. In an email response to The News Minute, he said: Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“The allegations that you have referred to are baseless, false, libellous and potentially damaging to the persons against whom they have been made.Ă˘â‚¬Âť He said that Airy had Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“chosen to resign from HT instead of participating in an inquiry into her own conductĂ˘â‚¬Âť, and added: Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“At HT, we take issues regarding ethical standards very seriously. We believe that independence, honesty, and transparency are critical to the trust that our readers place in us. We do not believe it is wise or fair to make public allegations against named individuals in the absence of both evidence and a right-of-reply. That is the standard that we applied in the case of Ms. Airy.Ă˘â‚¬Âť AiryĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s email raises several questions for professional ethics in journalism.Â Also Read :Â Essar Leaks: Two senior journalists resign after allegations that they took favours from company Though many media houses say explicitly in employment contracts that no gifts can be availed from anyone, it hardly acts as a deterrent. One of the biggest media houses in the country says in its employment contracts that if the gift accepted is anything more than a pen, the equivalent money will have to be deposited by the employee to the company, and this is to act as a deterrent. AiryĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s allegations could be true or false, but they do throw light on the relationship between media houses and corporate companies, one that has increasingly been questioned the world over including in India.Â Many senior journalists across the world and also in India have called attention to dependence of the media on advertising revenues.Â But the real question is, whether by letting go of some employees named in Essar Leaks, the system will get cleansed. Drawing the line on what is permissible and what isn't has been a grey area that few media houses have attempted to tackle in earnest. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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