An open application letter to Prannoy Roy, NDTV

Respected Dr Roy,

I am writing to apply for the post of Group Editor, English News, NDTV.

I am a journalist with 26 years’ experience. Throughout my career I have made innocent mistakes. I have been silly, I have been gullible and I have been prone to making errors of judgement.

Frequently, when I am “desperate for khabar” I also fib to sources. I string them along so much that I have often tied myself up in knots.

In short, I’m just the right guy to lead the nation’s most reputed English news channel.

I am aware, Sir, that you already have a silly, innocent and gullible editor prone to making honest errors of judgement. Those credentials were so clearly established on national prime time news the other day. Only an extremely innocent, very silly and highly gullible editor can do it with such aplomb.

Admittedly, Dr Roy, that’s a tough record to beat. But the silly are never daunted by the odds…recall that stuff about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.

I take heart from two facts: One, that you are perhaps the only editor-in-chief to value such sterling qualities in a group editor, and two, while you might be pretty happy with your in-house options, there are some good alternatives in the market you might want to look at.

It is your faith in and commitment to the cause of the ISGs (innocent, silly and gullible), Dr Roy, that has emboldened me to give the job a shot. I want to convince you that when it comes to these sterling qualities, I dig a lonely furrow… it’s actually a deep trench because I have been at it for 26 years.

Sir, I suspect you will be extremely upset at the completely unconventional way in which this application is being framed. So, let me quickly give you three examples of the work I have done so far.  Please judge me only by my work, not what I say about it on tape.

1. When I was just a few months into the profession,  Akali Dal leader Sant Longowal was assassinated. His assassination followed Indira Gandhi’s who was killed just a few months earlier. I had just subbed the copy when my chief sub asked me, “what’s the headline?”  “Longowal calls on Indira Gandhi,” I read out loud and proud.

The chief sub leaped out of her chair in horror and grabbed the copy. She called me silly and stupid. She even proclaimed me “dangerous” and banished me from the news desk.

You see, Dr Roy, I was editor material even then. Just that I was in wrong hands. Where were you, Dr Roy? I can’t help wondering, “why just Barkha, why is she so lucky”?

2. Once when I was editor of a small Delhi afternoon paper, we ran an expose on upcoming illegal structures in Connaught Place. We illustrated the story with a big picture of a multi-storey building shot stealthily. Next morning it turned out the building belonged to the newspaper’s proprietor.

Error of judgement is passé, Dr Roy, I have monumental blunders on my hand.

3. More recently, I was in the middle of writing Counterfeit, my most most-read weekly column on notional affairs. Two big corporate houses were warring over some goddamn national asset and I wanted to get to the bottom of things. Who better to get an insight from than the PR persons on both sides?

The first guy took me out to lunch and explained his client’s position. I was fully convinced he was right till the other PR took me out to lunch and explained her client’s position. I was convinced she was right too.

But I was two full, two convinced and too confused. So, I wrote about the food instead.

But then word got out. As you well know, our strict code of ethics lays down that a journalist can have only one free meal per topic. Fellow journalists were livid. But since nobody could prove quid pro quo, they pilloried me in public for being unethical and accused me in private of selling the profession cheap.

I am however convinced most of them were just jealous of the extra meal I managed…but that’s beside the point, the pillorying continued because they said “joh pakda gaya wahi chor”.

I had to take matters into my hand because the cat seemed to have gotten my channel’s tongue. I agreed to be grilled by my peers in full public glare. Four white haired gents turned up. For the first time the channel made a departure from the policy of not putting out any raw material on air and played the full unedited tape.

On air I made a clean breast of things.  “I may have been greedy, I may have been hungry, but nobody dare accuse me of corruption,” I said, clearly setting the contours of the debate. “But of course, it’s been a learning experience. Looking back now with all that one now knows about dirty lobbyists,  I have no hesitation in saying that it’s perhaps best to carry one’s own lunch box to work. I have since bought a Milton electric lunch box.”

“No journalist is lily white,” the oldest and gentlest of them all began, “I don’t know of many journalists who carry their tiffin to office….” but I cut him short.  ”Nobody is lily white but all that you will discuss is one spot on my kurta? Why only me,” I thundered. I wanted to punch all of them in their holier-than-thou faces but for form’s sake I just bit my dry lips and somehow held my temper and my hand.

Many close friends upbraided me for appearing on the show. They told me I looked angry, sounded pompous and arrogant. They advised me not to mention the incident in this application because it would look rather silly trying to get an important job on the evidence of this show.

But that is the point I’m trying to make, Dr Roy. I am silly. And I did not stumble on silliness, innocence and gullibility “inadvertently” after 16 years of blemish-less journalism.  I worked at it for 26 long years.

In other qualifications, I must point out that I am a damn good political reporter, even if I say so myself. In the thick of things such as the UPA’s cabinet formation, all kinds of people call me to carry messages to the Congress party. Sometimes there are problems of non-delivery such as that message I did not give Ghulam Nabi Azad but I believe, because I’m a good journalist, even if this were about the NDA forming its cabinet, I would still be a busy courier boy.

I would have loved to attach copies of my work as a political reporter but sadly, Dr Roy, I have none. That is because I have never reported politics.

I know, I know…that is not consistent with my claim to being a good political journalist. I was just stringing you along, Dr Roy.

When can I join?

Yours sincerely

B.V. Rao

***

B.V. Rao is the editor of Governance Now, where this piece originally appeared

***

Photograph: courtesy Governance Now

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24 Responses to “An open application letter to Prannoy Roy, NDTV”

  1. Mahesh Vijapurkar Says:

    BV Rao, I too may have made some silly mistakes. Why not we too get together, ask Nira Radia to finance a channel and have Ambanis and Tatas as our other equity holders?

  2. DailyBread Says:

    Churumuri,

    I am surprsied by the intensity and frequency at which you are attacking Barkha. Are you sure there are no “suralis” of Sagarika & Rajdeep. I cant believe that in this hamaam they are not nanga..

    Just heard Tarun Das speaking to Karan Thapar on CNN IBN, Whatey sad scene it was, whatey fall from grace…

  3. varun Says:

    Brilliant writing! Sadly, great satire needs such acts of downright immorality by people/institutions that matter.

    This has been probably the most torrid month Indian media has seen in its one-and-a-half decade of existence. And the bosses have spent a huge part of these 30-days in denial or farcical studio-debates. But good to see such biting stuff emerging out with a news-hour like regularity.

    Best wishes….

  4. Abhishek Says:

    Extremely good article. Very well written!

  5. rajesh pai Says:

    dear journalists, self stylled watch dogs of democracy.
    I do not know why mr. Roy is silent on this whole issue.
    Why can not he dismiss dutt bec prima facie evidences against her.
    If we read Kannada papers like Gouri Lankesh, Hi Bangalore they have exposed B.Bhat, PS, Bhadti. All are corrupt.
    Please my humble request to you is
    please keep your house in order before attacking politicians, officials, corporate houses.
    DO you have any moral right to attack my leader BSY?
    please answer

  6. div Says:

    which channel can we trust in India? CNN IBN was also exposed: they cooked up tweets and showed them on their TV!!! Sure, they apologized, but this has shown that they are not holy cows either. “The Hindu” is one organization on which I have some faith but with a pinch of salt because in India every one is innocent only until exposed.

    I think the problem is not just with the journalists, politicians or babus, it is a problem with the society. However, politicians, journalists and babus have the potential to change the whole society by mending their ways. Unfortunately, they just follow what an average Indian does when he is caught with a traffic violation.

  7. ERR Says:

    Superb!

  8. Indu Ramesh Says:

    Great writing! Is there anyway it really reaches Pranoy Roy?

  9. Ash Says:

    You r wasting your time. Mr. Roy’s skin is too thick to be penetrate by sarcasm and ego too high to reach with apparent agony in your writings.

  10. Mathihalli Madan Mohan Says:

    To be “ISG” – (innocent, silly and gullible”) is easier said than done.Only ones with gumption, dedication and hard work can acquire these attributes, which is in great demand. Some regional channels including those in Kannada, have already the process of training the future electronic media in their own way andmany have shown the talent they have acquired to emerge as peers.
    If Mr B VRao and Mahesh Vijapur permits, I dont mind joining them and promise them that I will try to come upto their expectation.

  11. twistleton Says:

    Wickedly excellent!

    How many of us CAN resist the sytem? At some point of time it sucks us all in. And once in the lines between right and wrong blur until they are just hazy irrelevant dots in the distance.

    I think clean governance exists only in fairy tales. Unholy nexus between self-proclaimed disinterested groups have existed throughout the history of politics. It was even acceptable in monarchies when conspiracy and counter-conspiracy were the norm. Sometimes even good has come out of them.

    In a people born to wily flexibility and subterfuge, democracy with its holier-than-thou attitude has no place.

  12. Tarlemaga Says:

    Mr Roy,

    Please hire me as I have failed in all other interviews. As they feel im innocent,gullible and silly.

    I can do the part time job of lobbyist as well for Industrial houses. That can be a strategic fit for your news org.

    regards

    TM

  13. Mo polamar Says:

    Brilliant.

  14. dandapinda Says:

    @Daily Bread: There is one surali of our Rajdeep Sardesai with Outlook. They have released it too… Nothing “Barkha”ish in that surali.

    @Indu Ranesh: Akka, it wont reach Prannoy Roy. NDTV network engineers will block governancenow, churumuri etc and help their journos live in utopian world.

  15. Shiv Says:

    I am not surprised that many english TV channels act as mouthpiece for Cong(i),ALMOST ALL ENGLISH NEWSPAPERS barring Hindu,Pioneer,Deccan Hearald,Statesman act as a front for Cong(i).if some daring jourmalists scratch the surface of these organisations, that most of the major backers will be from the party.So why jump on Prannoy ? Indians are suckers for fair skin smooth talking “sophisticated” scammers and Prannoy fits the bill to the “T”.Once the self esteem of the average educated Indian goes up, he/she will then become more balanced, rational and self assured to differentiate between the cabals and the knowledgeable.It is an education process and we have not even reached half way mark.

  16. VALALE SUBBANNA Says:

    http://www.sunday-guardian.com/a/1082

  17. Sanjeeva Says:

    A good one! It shows that media people are no saints either. One by one the facade of the preachers are crumbling. Sad that the fourth pillar is also shallow inside.

  18. prasad Says:

    Let us talk about Roy him self. On the day of any election results, Roy starts off with a bang with a selected panel saying that one party of his choice will win hands down. But as the results arrive he just disappears once for all as the results are not in his favour. He never appears again. What an News Editor!

  19. RANJAN SRIVASTAVA Says:

    I remember an Interview on TV, long back, it was natorious Pappu Yadav of Bihar, who was contesting assembly or parliament election at that time……….he openly warned Indian public (which was aired on some national channel) to be aware of Journalists as they are just Big Brokers and nothing else.

  20. M K Vidyaranya Says:

    All media houses should join together and bring out a rule making it mandatory for every Editor/journalist/ photographer to declare his/her assets before apopointing them in their media houses and declaration of assets should be an annual affair. The copies of their declaration should be subjeactaed to the scruitiny by the income tax department. If this is done, there will be some semblance of dignity for journalists in the eyes of the public. Otherwise, the Journalists will sell theselves to Politicians and make money by ‘using or misusing’ the media which they represent.

  21. Sampangi Says:

    1. PrannoyRoy is the next Bharata Ratna, if every thing going Cong favor.

    This is the only reason I think why this man is shutting up his mouth on this mother-of-all-scams.

  22. Kitapati Says:

    Churumuri any comments on India’s future nobel laurates bogus captitation fee ayurvedic college:
    http://in.news.yahoo.com/cbi-turns-the-heat-on-sri-sri%E2%80%99s-medical-college-in-bangalore.html

  23. kkrao Says:

    dear sir

    in india enquire about past of past but not present developments
    men changes after time media also should think about this
    they are good now help and encouragr the good this is not don
    kkrao

  24. Azmat Khan Says:

    I wonder why NDTV and its journos pretend to know everything! Just a couple of months back, Sonia Varma was interviewing Dr. Amartya Sen and Dr. Jean Dreze. Any guess what she kept calling Dr. Dreze the whole time? Dean Jerez. The poor man kept smiling every time his name was mutilated … beyond pronunciation. So much for these smart ass news presenters. And when I thought the idiocy ended there, lo and behold. The NDTV website had this discussion as its lead on its website. And Dr. Dreze’s name? You guessed it…it stayed as Jean Derez for a full day. And to think these idiots make lakhs as salaries…

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