This refers to your editorial “Strictly off the record” (Mint, 13 January). You say in the editorial that “the 2G spectrum case is not about one company alone, but about malfeasance at the highest level of government in India”. You add, later in the copy: “It is equally obvious that firms such as the Tatas don’t like such coverage.” You then label the Tata advice to companies to re-evaluate their engagement with some media entities as “just another attempt to coerce the press into submission”.
We would like to state the following:
Please quote one instance where any Tata entity has demonstrated that it does not like coverage of the 2G spectrum case. On the other hand, Mr Ratan Tata had publicly said that the investigation of the spectrum issue should go back to 2001, a position which the Supreme Court independently also arrived at.
It is our firm belief that the manner in which the current controversy has come about is an attempt by vested interests in the telecom sector to divert attention from their distortion of this sector, solely to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the public exchequer. In short, to say that the Tata group is against attempts to unearth the truth in the telecom sector is, simply put, not true. On the contrary, we are—and always have been—for the complete truth to come out.
I explained to your correspondent that our advice to companies was as a consequence of “biased reporting”. You choose not to insert that assertion in your editorial, as if the point has no relevance.
Is it not substandard, even mischievous, journalism when tapped conversations, whose authenticity has not been established, are reproduced without any attempt to follow the standard journalistic norm of getting the other person’s point of view? Is it not substandard, even mischievous, journalism when large dollops of juicy conversations unconnected with telecom are touted as being akin to proof of involvement with the “2G scam”, and Mr Tata’s picture, as also of others similarly unconnected, is put on a magazine cover?
Is it not biased journalism when patently incorrect and damningly one-sided reports are carried on a television channel and a magazine belonging to one media entity, not once but repeatedly, without any attempt to seek our point of view? Is it not biased journalism when the detailed rebuttals sent by us are not even acknowledged, let alone printed, by the same media entity? In all of this, it is intriguing that your editorial does not mention that one media house which has been the most biased of all.
The Indian media is, fortunately, much larger than the handful of its members who have been prejudiced and unprofessional with their recent coverage of the Tata group. We take this opportunity to reassert that, as in telecom, all that the Tata group seeks is fairness, professionalism and transparency in its dealings with the media.
-Christabelle Noronha , Chief, Group Corporate Affairs Tata Sons Ltd
Mint’s editor R. Sukumar responds:
The reason we chose to carry this letter is because Ms Noronha has made several points in it that she did not make to our reporter, and some of these may help readers understand the issue better. We did carry the response she gave our reporter then, in full in the news story, but did not refer to it in the editorial. Our editorial line remains the same: no company or conglomerate, including the Tata group, is above public or media scrutiny.