A Sad Lesson

BY ninan| IN Media Practice | 05/12/2004
A Sad Lesson


As the volume of media grows, media tracking has to become a full time responsibility, ethically discharged, with proper salaries and designations.



A Hoot editorial 


The Internet is an effective place to nail plagiarism and put out word of it at the speed of light.  Over the last fortnight news has slowly been spreading that a blog called Jabberwock has reproduced tell-tale paragraphs from Times of India film critic Nikhat Kazmi‚Äôs review of the film Shark Tale.  The paras have been tracked down to a review of the same film in the Chicago Sun Times by Roger Ebert.  Kazmi meanwhile has been in Goa covering the International Film Festival, and all is quiet on the surface at the Delhi office of the Times of India. 

Kazmi also happens to be editor of Delhi Times, a full time job given the inordinate interest that proprietor Vineet Jain takes in this publication. (DT is that infamous Times creation which started putting its front page columns on sale.)  Given the difficulty of watching films at a stretch while having other full time editorial responsibilities, it is possible that plagiarism was a way of coping. This past week for instance she has been in Goa while her Delhi film reviews have also been coming out. At least one of the films reviewed was also shown at Goa. One does not know about the two others. The point is that whereas in major publications abroad reviewing is a full time job, here it is a responsibility in addition to an existing job. So it is tempting to cut corners.  

Television critics too in some of the leading newspapers in India are not employed full time, so they cannot devote as much time to tracking dozens of TV channels as they might otherwise do. It is unfair to both the channels and programme producers. For every new programme that gets seen and reviewed a number do not even get viewed. 

As the volume of media grows, media tracking has to become a full time responsibility, ethically discharged, with proper salaries and designations. And senior journalists must be discouraged from trying to be critics on the side while having other assignments and designations.  This is not to make excuses for plagiarism. Only to underline that in this case it might have been the outcome of an unsatisfactory professional trend.







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