Paid news sting makes Goan journos alert

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 03 November 2011 20:14 IST

Raymond D'Sa's interview without mention of 'advertorial'

Journalists in Goa, including the editors, have finally moved into action to voice out their protest against the paid news phenomena, after an alert journalist conducted a sting on Herald, Goa’s leading newspaper.

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, a journalist, caught Herald marketing manager Tulshidas Desai on phone while selling news space for a price.

He pretended to be Bernard D’Costa, a candidate planning to contest forthcoming Assembly election from Velim, and asked for a paid interview in a news format.

In a telephonic conversation that Nagvenkar has produced, Desai offers him two options – Rs 50,000 for an interview on HCN, the TV channel owned by Herald, and Rs 86,400 for an interview in Herald.

He also assures him that the interview will not have a tag of ‘advertorial’.

Desai, during conversation, admits that a similar interview has appeared in Herald of Raymond D’Sa, vying for Congress ticket from Cortalim, without such a tag but for a price.

Desai is being heard on phone telling Nagvenkar that Raymond has been charged around Rs two lakh for such a package.

While filing a complaint in this regard with the Press Council of India as well as the Election Commission of India, Nagvenkar alleges that many such election-related interviews have appeared in the same space of Herald of probable candidates.

These include Somnath Zuwarkar from Panaji, Sankalp Amonkar from Mormugao, Sameer Salgaoncar from Mandrem – all having allegiance to the Congress as well as Michael Lobo of the BJP from Calangute.

Herald Editor Sujoy Gupta however has emphatically denied all these charges.

“I emphatically deny that any editorial content which has appeared in the Herald, without the “advertorial” tag line, has been paid for”, says Gupta.

Gupta also takes a position that both within and outside the organisation, paid content cannot be disguised as news.

According to him, Herald has published all such statements or material relating to politicians as ‘advertorial’.

To prove a point, Gupta cites an example of two-page news items of Cortalim MLA Mauvin Godinho on the occasion of his birthday, which Herald had carried as ‘advertorial’.

Reacting to this controversy, Arun Sinha, Goa Editors’ Guild chairman and editor of The Navhind Times expresses anguish as, according to him, publication or broadcast of paid news deceives the reader or the viewer.

“The editorial space is entirely reader/viewer’s space. There is a clear-cut allocation of space for advertisements in newspapers and TV channels. With the publication or broadcast of ‘paid news,’ the dividing lines between news and advertisement are blurred, deceiving the reader/viewer,” states Sinha in a press note.

The media will lose its credibility and endanger democracy if the lines between editorial and advertising space is allowed to be blurred, adds Sinha.

The Goa Union of Journalists has also taken serious note of the development. While supporting Nagvenkar’s sting and a complaint, its ethics committee is now looking into the matter.

“The malpractice of paid news had taken place rampantly in Goa during the 2007 Assembly elections. As a reader/viewer continues to be unorganised, there is no possibility of public check on the same,”, states Vithaldas Hegde, the GUJ general secretary.

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Previous Comments

He must be Ban forever and fine not less than a Lakh Rupees. This will teach others who give news in return of money.

- Goan, Goa | 11 th November 2011 22:49

 

From the coverage that the corrupt politicians receive in their pages and the vulgar ads with photographs appearing almost regularly ....prove the point that the 4th pillar of democracy has been made hollow by moths, worms, and white ants....It has joined the mainstream of corruption in a full fledged manner....The Election Commission needs to take a strong note of this propaganda of the and most of it dome with tax payer's money.....

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 07 th November 2011 18:35

 

Any Goan reading the Herald, at home, around India or abroad, will have noticed that Mr Churchill Alemao and his daughter Valanka Alemao are pretty much featured in it on a daily basis. Very often in full colour. Even the most ridiculous item of news where the Alemaos are connected, is featured. Even in the worst 3rd world Country in the world, no one advertises "The inauguration of the “beautification” of a cemetery” or even hot mixing (tarmacking) of a bye road.

I really begin to wonder if ,a Householder / owner or even a Flat owner, plants some new flowering plants, pots and fauna in his house, or builds a new “driveway”, will he invite all his neighbours for an inauguration of it? Worse still, will one Chief Guest have to be a “Dynamic Social Worker”, whose ulterior motive is to become a looting Politician? It seems like the Herald does not consider such adverts as “in bad taste”. It is happy to project nonsense in its newspapers for a fee.

Again considering the Herald has a feature on the Alemaos nearly daily, the paper should be renamed “The Churchill Times” or “The Alemao Times”.

There is a saying that “one way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Goan Politicians use this method, to gain attention.

- N.Fernandes, London | 04 th November 2011 14:16

 

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