Conversations between PR lady & lobbyist Nira Radia and assorted journalists are currently talk of the town. Well, at least the part of town that is on the internet.
I have not had the time and energy to listen to the 'tapes' and get outraged/ upset/ confused about ho kya raha hai.
But here's what a friend from the industry observed, after wading through some of it.
"More than anything, it's the tone Vir Sanghvi uses which is shocking... "
A tone of please, 'tell me what I need to get the interview'.
Since this interview never happened, we cannot actually accuse Vir Sanghvi of being influenced - in this instance. But the point is a larger one, why should journalists - even names as big as Vir Sanghvi - grovel for interviews.
Because, the demand-supply situation is absolutely skewed.
We have four business news channels, six pink papers, a dozen business magazines - and that's just in English.
The media is therefore reduced to fighting for the time and attention of businessmen, instead of the other way round.
Yes, I am assuming every journalist is not for sale. And that today, the very act of 'doing your job' brings with it all these sideshows and headaches.
Journalists routinely make promises which go against the very grain of journalism. Like agreeing to go soft on the issues that really matter. Coz a wishy-washy interview is better than no interview.
But does it really have to be so?
Has anyone stopped to think, how many viewers actually care to see Anil Ambani or Mukesh Ambani in their drawing room on a regular basis? Do such interviews or soundbytes increase ratings - or is it just the imagination of high-strung editors?
At the height of the Anil-Mukesh gas row, the man on the street was clueless what the battle was actually about. And how would an outcome, either way, affect his life.
And I bet if the top 30 CEOs we see on business television every day were to go on a long vacation, no one would miss them. Younger, happier faces would take their place.
The fact is that media is run more on whim and fancy, when what it needs is a leap of faith. Faith in the audience.
That if you stand for something, and deliver it consistently, people will follow.
That one interview or scoop does not make or break you, it is what you do and how you do it over a period of time.
That what people want is something new, different and interesting. So if you entered the arena late it's actually an opportunity. Do something that's never been done before - stand out.
The funny thing is, until you are a success, people will make fun of you for even trying. But the moment you grab an audience, they will try their hardest to copy you, down to the last detail.
Coming back to the tapes - I still don't have a concrete opinion. But broadly speaking, I think journalists should always fight the good fight.
Keep their wits about them.
And never get drunk on proximity to glamour and power.
Although, frankly, that is exactly the reason so many young people are attracted to the profession today.
And why proprietors are willing to pump in money into media vehicles which consistently lose money. Pots of it.
With these kind of foundations, what mighty edifice can you expect? Taj Mahal ya Hawa Mahal?
Enjoy the hot air.