Friday, 2 May 2008

THE RISE AND FALL OF GOA'S FIRST 24 HOUR NEWS CHANNEL -- PART II

This is the concluding part of the interview. We have one request here. Responses to this interview (and other such interviews in the future) would be approved only if they are accompanied by a name and a legit email ID. We will upload the post only after confirming the identity of the chap who has made that comment.
Look guys, whether Ajay Thakur is right or not, whether he is a good guy or a bad guy, it is to his credit that he has lent his name to the story shared on the blog, unlike us cowardly pricks who use the shield of anonymity. Doing what Ajay has done, takes courage. So if you are gonna pass a remark on this issue, we would request you to lend your name too.
We are glad that we could get something of what transpired at STV GOA NEWS on record. There was too much info flying about to make sense of.
So if you have any comments to share please do tell us who you are and leave behind your legit email ID.

Q) There were several reports of a regional rift between Goans and non Goan employed there. Can you confirm and elaborate on this continuous sense of discord?
A) I remember reading that on your blog and was amused. The man who is said to have led the Goan Camp, who talked only in Hindi, could not correct a Konkani script being a Goan, spoke Marathi properly being a president of a Marathi state journo body, who made calls from a colleagues phone to tell journos in a Press Conference. This fact is the truth of the matter. There was no Goan and non-Goan divide. Yes, initially the ‘experienced’ technical staff from Delhi hauled onto us by the Management did ride rough shod over the staff which was hired locally. It actually could be a Metro versus non-Metro divide. But then with time, guys recruited here outshone them and the guys from Delhi started resorting to cheap tactics to save face. But that was it. No regional rift. Except of course when the management showed the door to the former executive editor. Newspaper which were friendly to him reported some stuff. Can an out-of-state entrepreneur survive in an alien area without the involvement of locals? No.

Q) STV GOA NEWS boasted about a professional set up with prior experience in other states, and yet, the news output only appeared to be PR driven. As someone who was up there in channel's editorial hierarchy, could you tell us why?
A) PR driven? Are you talking about the news per se or the lone chat show that we had, since we had not much in terms of programming? No, I don’t agree that we were PR driven. In fact, all that drove us was ‘US’. When the news coverage came in, our job was to put on air what had happened or was covered, uncut and quickly. Some guys were shown more (some guys were covered more than the others) and I don’t deny that. Familiarity at times breeds PR. It can happen, but then it was never consciously done? In democracy, the party in power always gets more footage (coverage) than the opposition normally. Till, the party in power fumbles, then the equation of coverage changes but I remember this SMS I received, which said “You look like a BJP Channel!” My reply was “Ya, last week we were NCP, next week Congress and the week later, a Save Goa Channel”. The guy sheepishly said “You are right”. For an aggressive channel, I know most guys want us to shout from the rooftops or maybe even do a sting with no sense of purpose, but even for that you need the right team, one television man does not make a channel. A few good journos and proper technology backup can change the content and quality of news. What you guys saw was what we could manage with the limited resource and sans management support.

Q) Was there a stated editorial policy you were asked to pursue? Are you in a position to tell us about 'holy cows' in the editorial policy, if there were any?
A) How many channels and newspapers in India have a written editorial policy? None. It is more like the Vedas, passed on by word-of-mouth down generations. There were arguments with the management but generally there was no interference in reporting on the usual suspects – mining, health, infrastructure etc, etc. But then the Holy Cows were there. Real Estate, for obvious reasons and coverage of opposition leaders again for the channel Management’s had a history of playing partisan elsewhere too. There was no diktat. But then yes, specific instances… Stories were held back in order to not upset local business interests. But the amusing part is that often when they would see others covering it, they would quickly change their stance.

Q) There has been a lot of criticism about the way STV GOA NEWS ended its operations abruptly, leaving several of your colleagues in a lurch. You even say that the police were called to ensure all the employees left the office on March 1. Can you tell us what exactly happened?
A) The Police would have been called ‘cos of an earlier incident where the former executive editor’s driver tried to force his way in and his kin locked herself up to cook a case of wrongful confinement, which fell through. The management clearly wanted no trouble there. But one is baffled by the speed and secrecy. I, as the Editor, didn’t know what the Management or its Administrator had on their minds. At 1 pm, we were able to buy time to shift out of the premises after a specific period from the Housing Board; everything was hunky dory until at 3 pm a notice told us that the Channel is going off air tonight at 12 pm. Period. Nobody was traceable from the management’s side and the administrator was telling us to quietly take our dues and that’s it. There were meetings, and surprisingly our ex-executive editor along-with his bunch of cronies surfaced out of nowhere to take charge. But there were too many chinks in the employees armour. More than 75% were working without a Contract Letter (they never demanded one!). Moreover they had signed on a voucher before the Adminstrator which read “Full and Final Settlement”. Everyone became a leader and reason went out of the window. What happened was sad and bad. But then Goa News was never one big family, it was a bunch of ghettos and the internal fabric of the company looked very disturbing. So what happened to my colleagues is something like “what we gave is what got”.

Q) STV GOA NEWS had been in the news for the wrong reasons. To begin with the set up was established in a residential area, which is a gross illegality. STV GOA NEWS' hasty exit has only reinforced speculation that the outfit was in Goa not for news alone.... Your observation
A) Yes, the High Court and the Housing Board made us realize that too ;-) But then, the promoters who would wave a ‘letter to operate’ from the panchayat on my face everytime I cried foul against these decisions. This happened much before I was a part of the organisation. The deal had been struck earlier. I have read on your blog about a part of the Herald being illegal, but does that stop those amazing reporters from turning up at the workplace day in and day out. But yes, your observation that the outfit was in Goa not for news alone may have some merits. Goa News is shut down, but cars and vans carrying screaming stickers still shuttle around. Lots of non-journos carrying PRESS tags still move amongst us. Reporting from a certain section of the Coastal belt which was usually out of our bounds is witnessing major developmental projects. Questions still remain unanswered but then it takes a journalist to do so. Goa News might have been shut but the journalists are still out there. At least one of them is. Truth will have to be dug out and told.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"unlike us cowardly pricks who use the shield of anonymity" - HA HA HA

So you can hide behind a shield and we are supposed to "reveal" who we are? What a laugh!

2 May 2008 at 08:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I please know what asked these questions? is this also some PR business?

2 May 2008 at 09:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plase stop entertaining Ajay Thakur. Let this be his last interview.

2 May 2008 at 13:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the attack on Ajay thakur? is it because he is not Goan?

It is time that we Goans look beyond our very noses, and realise that the time to work with all has come. In any case, our very Goans are lagging behind in all areas, and unless we pull our socks up, you can well imagine what is going to be on the menu shortly.

And, you cannot change this unless we become positive, rather than xenophobic.....

3 May 2008 at 15:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 02 May 2008 08:14

I feel the same way too!

3 May 2008 at 23:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon at 03 May 2008 15:43
You sound familiar. Goan editors playing host to....blah blah blah....
Akalmand ko ishara kaafi hai!

6 May 2008 at 18:38  
Blogger Prashant said...

Pen Pricks! Definitely,your fathers might be the Barbers and Dhobis.I don't think that you're a journalist.

7 May 2008 at 20:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't get the vitriol on this page. A classic case of Goan crab mentality? Sniping for the sake of sniping? What is it that makes it possible for you to question Ajay's journalistic credibility when an impartial observer would question the credibility of almost every single journo in the state? Kettle calling the pot black again...that's nothing new is it?

10 May 2008 at 15:25  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home