NDTV on defamatory remarks against Barkha Dutt

In response to the Open Magazine cover story dated 20th November, 2010 NDTV would like to object in the strongest terms to the clear misrepresentation of conversations between Barkha Dutt and Ms. Nira Radia, that took place in May 2009.
 
In the pursuit of news and information, journalists talk to an array of people from all professional backgrounds; this case being an an unfolding political story on cabinet formation, after the general elections.
 
To caricature the professional sourcing of information as "lobbying" is not just baseless, but preposterous.
 
At every stage effective journalism involves engagement with a multitude of characters in the process of gathering news and information. To call this process "lobbying" is a serious and defamatory distortion of journalistic practices.
 
Ironically, when Barkha Dutt raised this smear campaign with the magazine's editor, Manu Joseph,  these are the responses she got.
 
1. "Dear Barkha; thats not true. I can send a copy of the magazine to you right away or you can check the story on the website. We have carried the Radia transcripts which include some of your conversations with her. In fact there is not much remarkable and you will not be embarrassed by it. There is one bit in the strap where the word "go-between" is used which  I dont like myself. I would love to carry your response in the next issue if you would like to send one. My email id is manu@openmedianetwork.in."
 
Once again,when she asked the magazine's Editor why the basic tenets of journalism had not been followed in seeking her response before publishing these accusations, this is the reply she received.
 
2. "Dear Barkha, In the attachment is the cover story (divided into introduction and the transcripts).
 
We knew we were going ahead with the story only on Monday as Prashant Bhushan had submitted a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday attaching the same recordings that we had. We had to make a decision and we did. I wanted to get your response, but there was a possibility that if the word of the story got out (and, you know very well, it is not an exclusive) some people might do their best to ensure that we didn't carry it.
 
If you would like to respond to the story at any length, please let me know (by Tuesday).
 
Warm regards"
 
The fact that the very editor of the magazine that has published this story accepts the distortion in the story's caption and goes on to say that there is nothing "remarkable" in the content speaks for itself.
 
NDTV believes the magazine should first verify and corroborate facts before participating in a defamatory smear campaign.
 
These are unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory allegations and we reserve the right to take appropriate action.
 
Narayan Rao
Group CEO, and Executive Director, NDTV
 
Story First Published: November 18, 2010 20:53 IST

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