A lot has been said and a lot will be said about the integrity of ‘Herald’ – its management and owner Raul Fernandes and its editor Sujay Gupta. Frankly speaking Mayabhushan Nagvenkar’s sting operation has put Herald in an unpredictable situation.
That Thulasidas Desai was indulging in an unethical media practice of taking money for news coverage from a political aspirant is a proven fact in this sting operation. More so Thulasidas Desai is known in the political circles to indulge in such practices, so it is not the first time that he has strayed from the ethics of the media profession. The exuberance of marketing to complete the targets to please the business bosses can never survive without the patronage of the editorial, so if Thulasidas has been doing such acts for some time now, then someone in the editorial would also be involved.
If Thulasidas Desai was working alone or with a few in editorial on such paid-news, all Herald would have to do is conduct an enquiry and sack the concerned people involved. But what throws serious suspicion on the entire episode is that Thulasidas in the telephonic conversation says that the cheque can be made on the Herald Publications Pvt Ltd, which clearly indicates that the Herald Business is too benefiting from this paid-news act. So someone in marketing or in the business affairs would have to have known that such money is coming to the Herald account and what is its reason, since it is certainly not advertising. Maybe in their books of account it may show as advertorial, that is anybody’s guess. But we will only know the truth on this if Herald management explains itself and clear this question that has been raised.
The act of Herald has put a lot of question on the integrity and credibility of most publications in Goa; because too many people within and outside of Goa, feel that publications are either controlled by politicians or mining barons. But being a media person let me state this for a fact, media today is a business and in a competitive environment it is about survival; many have and many will fall prey to decision between good business decision and good journalistic decision, sometimes some make the right decision in the eyes of their business which might be wrong in the eyes of their readers, who expect good journalism; and sometime they make the right decision in the eyes of the people which might be wrong in the long run of the business. In the end of the day no decision is right or wrong. But in the interest of the business we have started which is media and in the interest of the people who make their decision based on the information we dissipate to them, it becomes our core and moral responsibility to always stand by the truth, considering that there are many creative avenues within a combination of marketing and editorial that do not need to infringe on the basic ethics of journalism.
But the question I ask in the heat of all the discussion on ‘Herald’ is whether it should be black-listed and my answer is – no, it should not be blacklisted. And I say this not because I am an ardent reader of Herald, in fact at most time I find the overall reporting average, bar a few good exposes and columnists, but that’s my personal opinion. Also not known to many is that Herald too has not been kind or supportive of GoaChronicle.com on certain occasions when we have taken any issue up off-line, I remember one editorial of Sujay Gupta completely derogating me and GoaChronicle.com. But having said that, I still strongly believe that Herald should not be blacklisted because from some wrong that a few of its important employees have done, we cannot run it to the ground and forget all the good work it has done for many years and the hope it has presented to the people of Goa on numerous occasion. I cannot comment on the business strategy of the Herald business, because quite clearly I do not know what their business model is, but its journalism has had some spark of brilliance and if my memory serves me right it has been a newspaper many Goans in the past have sworn by.
It is important for Herald to conduct an enquiry into the sting operation and sack the culprits within its organization and if it includes even the top most executives of the organization, then so be it. People will want to know from one of its favorite newspaper what went wrong and what they are doing to correct it. Not saying or doing anything about it, so that the matter dies down will not help in the long-run.
I refuse to indulge or comment on any personal attacks on either the editor Sujay Gupta or Raul Fernandes, simple because what they do personally in their life is of no concern to me or GoaChronicle.com and I would hope that my fellow Goans will see it that way too; because I have seen many comments on GoaChronicle.com and other blogs looking into the personal issues of Sujay and Raul and I do not think it has any relevance to the professional misconduct issue raised.
If Herald takes a corrective action in interest of its people, I will consider that it is a wise decision and people need to continue to support it. But if they chose not to, then the people of Goa will automatically stop reading the Herald.