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Newspaper's indulging in unethical means?
Armstrong Vaz | 16 Jan 2010

'In the name of making money one cannot go to any extent, there must be some ethics or guidelines for everything thing we do. I am referring to some large self-promotional or self-credit adverts or paid news items, that appeared in today's front pages of

 

 
 
“In the name of making money one cannot go to any extent, there must be some ethics or guidelines for everything thing we do. I am referring to some large self-promotional or self-credit adverts or paid news items, that appeared in today’s front pages of NT (Navhind times) and H. (Herald) dated 12/12/09,” wrote JoegoaUK  on Goajourno, a Goa-based journalists mailing group.
The reader was referring to paid advertisements which were disguised as news item in the two newspapers.
“It comes as usual as if it is a news item under catchy headlines. NT had it more than a quarter page in  3 column news item with minister photo.  At the end, there was a four letter word in italic saying ‘advt’,  text of which was smaller than the usual text used in the 3 column. I had to use my reading glasses  only to see what that word was. Again, in Herald  headlines says ‘Tourism  sector moving forward under dynamic Tourism Minister Micky Pacheco’ with minister Photo. It started with two columns but at the end it says …  Continued on page 5 (like in any other news items). On page 5, remaining portion came in 3 columns, It also says ‘advt’ below it.”
The disguising of paid advertisements as news items has been a hot topic of discussion in the recent assembly elections in the state of Maharashtra and Joegoauk also raises the same point and the monies involved in it.
 “Both ads must have cost the minister at least Rs.50,000.  There were other display ads too including one from the minister’s staff to their ‘Sir’  in colour on front page which itself must have cost at least  Rs.20,000  as if the minister’s appeal was not meant for his staff. The minister, in another ads in all dailies, earlier, appealed to public not to issue  any ads in the newspapers and instead donate the money to his (minister’s) relief fund.”
Pitching the case for the reader to know what is news and what is an advertisement, he says: “Coming back to newspaper, I guess, we have the right to know what’s is news items or  what’s an advt in the very beginning of such ‘news item look alike’ advts.
It appears that  some of our news paper go hand in hand with politicians. And we often talk about the same as in the case of police and politician.”
 “Similar tactics were used by our press media during the last general elections 2.5 years ago, In one newspaper, it was no where mentioned it was an advt but it had to clarify next day to say so.”
 JoegoaUk also raises yet another point of contention - whom to approach with a complaint against any newspaper’s which is/are indulging in unethical means.
 
“I wonder if there is any press complaint authority in Goa. We have no problem when news paper making money that way, they can have pages and pages of such advts but let us know in the beginning what we are actually going to read rather than just saying ‘advt’ at the end and that too in fine prints or on the next page as in H..” he adds.

In the absence of any watchdog authority in the state, Penpricks http://penpricks.blogspot.com/, a blog operated by nameless and faceless journalists -as termed by Gomantak Times editor Derick Almeida in one of his post- took many a lethargic journalists to task while pricking the lazy one the wrong way.
 
The blog said in its introduction- DISCOVER THE ROTUND FLANKS AND THE SHAGGY UNDERBELLY OF THE GOAN MEDIA. AND OF COURSE, THE RARE HONEST RIB.
Raste RASTE KA MAAL SASTE ME!!! that’s the heading of the last blog post on and since then the has gone into hibernation.
Why the blog has it gone into hibernation, is a question which will be best answered by persons who had been operating the blog.
With the blog been inactive for the last several months, many a scandals in Goan journalist circles have circulated through the word of the mouth among journalists and non-journalists but nothing has come into print. A few rumblings in media circles which include a troika of corrupt journalists been shown the door by managements, are some of the stories which have surfaced in mailing groups of Goa based journalists group Goajourno.
But certainly a far cry from the style for which Penpricks was known for- the short time in which it made its impact in cyberspace.
The standard of journalism in Goa constantly on the down side and hits its nadir in the last Lok Sabha elections when three TV cameramen-cum-reporters of local Goan TV channels (there are a half of dozen them in a small state of Goa) approached a lady candidate with their demand.You give cash we give you coverage.
They demanded an X amount, which after discussions and consensus was lower to an x amount. The candidate was smart enough not to dole out the cash the same day, but preferred to call them the next day and in the meantime, got in touch with other print media journalists, and that’s how the cat was out of the bag.
If two channels retained these dubious cash-chasing journalists, Prudent Media Editor Sandesh Prabhudessai was quick enough to show the door to the Margao Reporter of Prudent Media.
Incidents such as this have been put on the back burner and if Penpricks were active enough, they would have made a hell of a life for the three journalists, by covering such events on the blog.
But then, it was also accused of going too personal in some cases. In some cases affected journalists said they were indulging in character assassinations, while some others said they were disgruntled journalists who were out to take revenge on their superiors.
But one thing was sure the fear of being pulled up the wrong way for committing journalism blunders in Goan newspapers kept the journalists on their toes.
Plagiarism was one such pet subject for the Penpricks guys and girls, a habitual offender like former Editor Robin Abreu of Herald, was regularly caught in the act. The misery pile don him, when he was caught in a sting operation, trying to sell editorial space for advertisers on the edit page to the highest bidder. His continuous plagiarism game ran out and he was finally shown the door by the management.
Some of the cases which brought the blog into the limelight was the sensational Nazi prisoner case, when the national and local papers in several states were made a fool of themselves when they printed hoax story circulated by Penpricks.
The Sexual harassment case in Herald which was not published in any of the Goan newspapers was closely followed by the blog. The blog also pricked Navhind Times editor Arun Sinha the wrong way by digging up details of the alleged molestation case, although he had been discharged by the court.
The blog also had a story backed up with pictures from now IANS Goa correspondent Mayabhusahn Nagvenkar about how NDTV DR Pranoy Roy has destroyed sand dunes in Calangute beach, which no paper, local or national dared to carry in its edition.
The hibernation of Penpricks is per se a bad thing, as there is no watchdog body to pull up the journalists and many a corrupt acts by Goan and non-Goan journalists based in Goa have not come into print. The blog was a lesson for new rookie journalists to learn the trade the hard way as many grammatical slips were pointed out in many posts by Penpricks.
So it is high time the Penpricks come out of their shell to cleanse the dirt-ridden journalists and help the fourth-estate in Goa display a clean slate. But then, the big question hanging overhead is the identity of the bloggers.
With the identity of the bloggers known to most of the journalists in Goa, will they dare to prick their colleagues with whom they meet every day at press conferences, meetings and police briefings, and remains to be seen?