Tuesday, November 02, 2010

'A profession that respects itself'? Ha

It's been a long time since I've had illusions about "journalistic integrity" (including any that might be found in the publications I regularly write for), but what is life without the occasional mild surprise? For the latest edition of her Stet column in Business Standard Weekend, Mitali Saran wrote about the India Today-Slate-Rajinikanth plagiarism episode. The piece, which you can read here, includes this accurate observation:
It’s not as if ours is the only media in the world with big problems. But when ours is confronted with its own scandals, you can hear the clang of a fraternity closing ranks, followed by the weird sound of thousands of furious back-scratchings, followed by the thunderous silence of stones not being thrown in glass houses.
Well, Business Standard took that bit about rank-closing quite seriously and demonstrated its truth in the directest way possible. They didn't publish the column. Instead they filled the space with - hold on to your sides now - a New York Times article about wingtips. Is that furious back-scratching you hear or just the sound of dirt being scraped off the soles of expensive shoes?

P.S. to my knowledge, Aditya Sinha of the New Indian Express was the first mainstream-media journalist to do a piece about the plagiarism incident - here it is - but Nilanjana S Roy did write about it on her blog, making the good point that there's something very wrong with a copy-desk that fails to recognise the inappropriateness of phrases like "the Indian state of Tamil Nadu" and "if you haven't heard of Rajinikanth before" in an India Today edition meant specially for south Indian readers. Plagiarism is one thing, but plagiarising without discernment? Tch.


  1. There's exactly one way to determine whether there's sabotage or any other crap in the Purie camp (Not that internal politics should matter for us readers, but heck)

    That would be to check the vernacular editions for India Today, specifically the Telugu or Kannada versions, where the editorials simply get translated from Team Poorie's English original. Seeing how this shit works, I'd be willing to bet a tidy amount that they've translated the entire shit word for word.

    I specifically said Telugu or Kannada, because if they've done it in _Tamil_ as well, then the translation team might as well pack their bags, go home and wait for Google Translate - English to Tamil's imminent arrival.

    Sadly, checking this out would involve actually buying the sad excuse of a rag that India Today is (and thence support them financially), so if there's any way to get a PDF-ized version of the lead editorial in the Telugu edition, I'm all ears.

  2. Good god. Embarrassing stuff all over. But it does sound like an internal scheme to me. But it's truly cringe-worthy. Remember Gautaman Bhaskaran?!