Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Here in India, in our jargon its called 'cover journalism' - the type of journalism where you accept cash (or freebies) for stories. So, journalists could be slipped an envelope or 'cover' containing cash and he/she will take care of the rest. There are lots of journalists who are very accepting of this sort of thing.

The American military has institutionalised 'cover journalism' - especially in Iraq. Following is a very brief excert from a New York Times article.

The most critical portion of the report concerns the military's creation in 2004 of an entity called the Baghdad Press Club, in which Iraqi journalists were paid if they covered and produced stories about American reconstruction efforts, such as openings of schools and sewage plants.


VHS said...

Sad. Sting operations on such journalists... is that in the offing?

Alaphia Zoyab said...

set a thief to catch a thief VHS. SO why not?

Bala (Karthik) said...

I would be surprised if Uncle Sam had not used these tactics in the "Nam" also.
This practice not only means propaganda and untruth spread, it also means that the lives of journalists might be in danger, as if they weren't already.

Thankfully, we do have/had folks like Robert Fisk, Edward Said, John Pilger et all. Otherwise, the world will be one big Uncle Sam party

Anonymous said...

not really surprising in the least. just a thought : being a left or right aligned media source is just as bad I think, what the journos dont make in cash, they make up for in kind

Anonymous said...


There's something called "cheque-book journalism" too, isn't there? I wonder if the two are the same or different. Will read the link sometime, as it is not opening right now.

The Dragon said...

This may be a silly question, widespread is this in India?

Sad, really... the Fourth Estate is supposed to keep us abreast of what's happening in the world in an objective manner. What source or what information can we trust anymore? Seems like the real world becomes more like the movie "Conspiracy Theory" every day.

Or maybe I'm just paranoid.

Interesting blog you have here, by the way.

Arif Syed said...

Being a news, current affairs and non-fictinonal junkie, I have come to the conclusion that all News channels are biased and given to entertainment value.

The sad part is that most people in our world watch these "News Channels" and form opinions and act on them with disastrous consequences.

To understand the most important definition perhaps any journalist worth his/her grain of salt should read the book by Robert Fisk "The Great War For Civilization"

Best Wishes

Dr. Arif Syed

cynicalcount said...

The Dragon

News channels in India are never objective. They are always biased towards one party or the other.Its the same case with Newspapers.

Its a sad truth that people believe what they see on TV or on paper. Nowadays especially on Electronic Media most news are manufactured.

Sheks said...

Office of profit???

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know about the cash factor but lunch invitations/free CDs, watches... for journos are certainly on the rise. It's as if the journo has to feel embarrassed enough to do the story.

Sudhir syal said...

Yeah, I really think Journalists are treated supremely well most times. As opposed to if, " yr workin in a Bank" for instance. I'd know, have first hand experience.

" Hello, I'm callin from xxxx Bank"

" click"

"Hello, Im callin from the TIMES"

" Yes, And what will you have to eat...Caviar........."

As long as the pamperer's dont have control over yr article, I really dont see why the journalists shouldn't induldge a wee bit...:-0

Good night and Good Luck..ha

S said...

sad.. like they say "who will guard the guards??"

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi Sheks,
Pithy summation.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Dr. Arif,

Just wanted to say that its not as if everything you see on TV is coloured. Will look out for the book.

Arif Syed said...


It was perhaps an unfair generalization, for I know that the advent of private TV channels in India has had an impact on corruption (including personal corruption). I would like to see more social consiousness in TV news if that is possible at all.

I read a small article tucked away in the inner pages of The Hindu the other day, "We need More toilets, not free TVs" . I would like to see a series of maybe 5 min videos on Indian TV aeveryday about public urination etc and the lack of social consiousness in keeping things clean. Heres an interesting Statistic.

Estimated Per capita spending on cleanliness in India in Rupees: 0.35
Estimated per capita spending on cleanliness in Europe, in Rupees: 450

Whopping difference aint it!!

The other day in broad daylight as I was driving by on Chetpet flyover I happen to see a guy peeing from the top of the bridge, he seemed well dressed and smartish. I wished i had captured this on camera. What makes such a man stand in broad daylight and pee from the top of a busy thoroughfare? Amazing psychology, and it seems more prevalent in Chennai than anywhere else ( I am guessing here).


Anonymous said...

Hello Alaphia,
I am here after a long time.Well, it is a pity that even the journalists are up for sale.Or is it only to be expected in this great country of ours?Anyway,honest journalists are one of the things we need badly.It would indeed help if one were to expose atleast a tip of the dirty iceberg by means of, say, a sting operation.And your story from Auroville on pottery was good.Gave a lucid insight on alternative careers options.

Anonymous said...

So how many stories have u "covered" for NDTV? Now dont tell me Madrasis never did that. Coz we know Prannoy Roy is a nepotist and also his dirty dealings are well known. It is just bcoz of his clout with the present govt he has not yet been exposed.

Anonymous said...

anonymous,It is not right to criticise an individual and/or class of people so harshly without any fundamentally strong evidence.

uday said...

hey could look at posting more often here..i sense u like it, but then is it just time or the diktat from the top bosses not to blog...

on another note, do u guys follow the stuff on warfornews blog...u have a take on that ?

Anonymous said...

U have to be in Delhi or Mumbai to know what really take place at NDTV. I know a lot as my brother used to work there and resigned later as he refused to fall in line. Roy is available for the right price for anyone. Truth is the last thing on his mind.

Alaphia Zoyab said...


You are kind ...thanks.

Anon - the word 'madrasi' is used by north indian yokels... Do i 'cover' stories? keep watching to find out.

Anon - I dont know what your brother knows....but i think its one of those things that people have come to love - a conspiracy theory behind everything.

Anonymous said...

"Madrasi" is a derogatory word just as "Bhaiyya". It is used by everyone and not just by 'yokels'.
I dont watch NDTV coz we hate it.
As for ur last sentence, I wont fall into the trap and dont think I will spill everything here. It wud suffice to say that NDTV is the most manipulative broadcaster in India.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Anon - whatever

Arif Syed said...

I thought your bit on air pollution in Chennai and other cities was good social reporting and long overdue.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi Dr. Arif,

Thank you and I will agree... very very long overdue. Im trying to work on something related. . that might take a little bit longer.

Kausikram Krishnasayee said...

we are having a bloggers meet on the 24th june at ascendas taramani at around 3 p.m. please join us if u are free...

Lidia said...

Yes Yes. It is sad and completely unethical! In Australia, we call it "checkbook journalism" or "cash for comment" which someone has already pointed out! The most recent example of this in Australia was the Beaconsfield mine disaster, in which two miners who were stuck down a cave for 14 days were given 2 million dollars for an exclusive interview. I mean, what the? It's just amazing the lengths the mainstream media will go to to get a story! That's why i never want to be in television, it seems to be alot worse than other mediums...well that's my perception anyway! It's interesting to see that its happening all over teh world! I'm not surprised about the American military...sounds like something they're capable of!

Arif Syed said...

Well observed amy. Perhaps the greatest "cheque book journalist" of all time is that fascinating Australian of Sky, Fox, the times(of London) and STAR fame!

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi Mark,
I will try and make it. Never been to one.

Hi Amy,
Well atleast it was the interviewees getting the money (though that is only just a little less acceptable). Imagine journalists getting paid to do stories!