It’s heartbreaking to follow stories done by others – newspapers or television news channel. That’s the way we grew up, in a two-newspaper town.
It was a matter of shame to be beaten by the rival paper on a story. And we were conditioned to deal with that shame by ignoring the news-break.
We were too big to follow. And if we were forced, we usually got some source or the other to counter the story, deny every detail in it.
That made us feel better. And readers? Did it really matter that between the two of us – the rival paper and us — we had confused them completely. That aversion to following up others’ stories has become a part of our DNA now. It’s difficult, sometime impossible to do that.
We have been following television channels from Day One on the BJP crisis. In fact, Jaswant Singh’s first interview was on CNN-IBN.
He told Karan Thapar that Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, was a great man, demonized by India and that Muslims feel alienated here.
That started the fire that’s still raging. The first day, we didn’t have a choice. We carried the interview, didn’t feel too bad because we like the people there, and have worked with them jointly on some projects.
But that was only the beginning. Every day since, some channel or the other was breaking stories – as Jaswant Singh went studio hopping.
The next bomb was dropped by journalist-turned-politician Arun Shourie. And he chose NDTV to deliver his message to the BJP.
We soldiered on, breaking other stories, especially on judges’ assets. Most news channels picked up our story the next morning.
We felt better of course. And were wiser.
Why do we feel terrible about following stories done by others? If the story is good, and it survives the necessary checks and double-checks, they should be followed up. And let’s please give credit to whoever broke it.
It’s churlish to do the follow up and attribute it “one news channel” or “a local English daily”. That’s like saying here is a story good enough to follow, but, hey, we won’t tell you who broke it.
You will notice Hindustan Times doesn’t do that. We name the organization, even if it was the rival media house. When Jaswant Singh spoke to Times Now, our story said so. We named Times Now.
I don’t see any harm in it. What do you think?