Friday, December 03, 2004

Big Blogger Is Watching

It’s all happening here in the blogosphere. Jabberwock’s Nikhatgate expose has set the cat among the pigeons. There has been a flurry of postings on several blogs, with the desimediabitch blog taking up the issue in a big way. And the way journalistic circles in the Capital are buzzing over the incident, there’s no doubt that it is bound to spill onto more mainstream media, like newspapers and magazines.
There are a lot of people who believe that the whole plagiarism thing is a non-issue here in India, especially when you grow up to jokes like this: “What is the Japanese slogan? You think of it, we will make it. What is the Indian slogan? You make it, we fake it.”
But, let me assure you that even in the “eenspaired” land of Bappi Lahiri it is a big deal, especially in journalism.
Last year, one pink daily went to town against a correspondent of a rival for plagiarising one of their stories. All this was done through the good offices of, the blogspot which had become quite a rage during its short existence. Things came to a head when word reached the editor of the newspaper in question, who immediately asked the offending correspondent to resign. In her defence, this correspondent had said that she had inadvertently ‘copied’ the stuff while Googling for more information on her article. However, her explanation did not cut much ice with the management and she had to go. A few days ago, veteran CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather was unseated over a controversial story he did on Dubya’s dubious National Guard service during the Vietnam War. This is what USA Today had to say: “Rather's departure could signal the rise and influence of politically motivated Internet "bloggers," who relentlessly attacked him and the documents that were used to back up his 60 Minutes story. Some political and media analysts have said the "Memogate" scandal damaged CBS News' reputation, especially among viewers in largely rural, conservative states — the network's core audience.”
While Rather’s was not a case of plagiarism, it was certainly not “ethical” journalism.
I think it’s time people read the writing on the wall or should I say their monitors: Beware Big Media, for Big Blogger Is Watching.

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