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Radia tapes case: Vir Sanghvi speaks

26-November-2010
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Radia tapes case: Vir Sanghvi speaks

Not much has been heard from Vir Sanghvi on the taped conversations between corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and some well-known journalists, which also includes him. Responding to exchange4media, Sanghvi speaks about how media had approached the issue and his views on the entire development. Here’s what Sanghvi had to say…

While I have no wish to criticise the media or other publications, I think some points are worth making.

1. There is no proper sourcing for these tapes. Some versions say that they were made by the Income Tax Department from a legal tap. But the Income Tax Department has not confirmed this. Nor does anybody explain how the IT Dept tapes came into the hands of outsiders. Two of the publications that have carried the transcripts have also carried disclaimers saying that they have not verified their authenticity.

2. In my own case, when I first saw the transcripts, I posted on my website that they did not appear to accurately record the conversations. Having read the transcripts and heard some of the recordings, I am now convinced that the tapes have been tampered with, edited and doctored. It worries me that no media organisation bothered to check this out before giving wide publicity to the transcripts.

3. There are serious privacy issues here. While you can argue that the contents of some of the tapes are in the public interest, many of the other conversations have little genuine news value. They appeal only to salacious interest. Worse, by reproducing idle gossip between people, they needlessly damage the reputation of many senior journalists.

4. It also worries me that while the tapes relate to scores of people, undue publicity has been given to conversations featuring a few individuals. Why single out some journalists and ignore others?

5. As for the tapes featuring me, my position is still largely what it was on Thursday evening when I posted a response on my website. The conversations have not always been accurately reproduced. There are edits, obvious errors in transcription and distortions.

6. On the content, my position also remains the same. When covering a fast-moving story, a journalist needs to gather information from a variety of sources. Frequently, these sources will have compulsions of their own.

A journalist may often string these sources along, appear sympathetic to their compulsions and yet, do nothing about the requests made by sources.

7. For instance, while Ms Radia wished me to convey a message from the DMK to the Congress during the crisis of government-formation following the elections, I had no intention of doing so. No message was ever conveyed by me as anybody in the Congress will know. My acquiescence was merely part of the process of stringing a source along.

8. I expect to be judged by my work. There is nothing in anything I wrote after my conversations with Ms Radia that is either slanted or biased. In the case of a column referred to in one conversation, I actually recorded in the article that I had spoken to Ms Radia to get her client’s side of the story. I also wrote that I had gone out for lunch with the PR person for the other side to get his view. Finally, having heard both sides and gathered many other inputs, I wrote my column. That column is fair, unbiased and objective as anyone who reads it will immediately recognise.

As told to Akash Raha

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