Ranjona Banerji: And this is how journalism works, thanks to The Indian Express!

05 Apr,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The Indian Express’s lead story on Thursday was the winner of the day: “Global media investigation finds 612 Indians among thousands with firms in tax havens”. The Express was one of 38 international media organisations which collaborated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to work on a 15 month investigation into offshore tax havens. The Guardian and the BBC, the Washington Post, Le Monde and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation were some of the other organisations in the collaboration.

 

This is one of those times when journalists can legitimately take a little time to pat each other on the back. The investigation involved 250 GB of data in 2.5 million secret files with details of over 1.2 lakh offshore firms/trusts, 12,000 agents spread over 170 countries and territories. This effort involved 86 journalists from 38 media organisations in 46 countries.

 

It is a mind-boggling effort and shows how much can be achieved through cooperation and common goals. It also reiterates that all journalism need not be about negotiating the minefield of owners and advertisers.

 

For those who do not read Indian Express (shame on you!), here are links to the story. Will be interesting to see if the rest of the Indian media pick up on the business people mentioned in the exposure or just allow them to get away with it and keep on pretending as if politicians are the only scourge in our society…

 

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/global-media-investigation-finds-612-indian-firms-in-tax-havens/1097501/0

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/an-indian-expressicij-investigation-vijay-mallya-ravikant-ruia-others-in-tax-havens/1097494/

 

And this is how the story unfolded:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/an-indian-expressicij-investigation-vijay-mallya-ravikant-ruia-others-in-tax-havens/1097494/

 

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The possible maybe I don’t know boss Congress candidate as the next prime minister of India spoke to a bunch of Confederation of Indian Industry members. This is the latest trend for the media to follow mainly because most of them were not alive when we had to sit through interminable Films Division of India documentaries about politicians inaugurating coal-based power plants. So every time a politician makes a speech at a school, college, chamber of commerce, park or shower we have to be there.

 

And so it was with Rahul Gandhi, who was also referred to as Rajiv Gandhi but we’ll forgive that. As he spoke about an inclusive India which has poor people and compassion was required, twitter exploded with laughter at the irony of saying all this to industrialists and business people.

 

Intriguingly, as just about every news channels was focused on Rahul Gandhi, Times Now was busy patrolling the Mumbai coastline where it found a suspicious ship and took it into custody thus most effectively saving the nation. Also, Headlines Today showed a speech by Narendra Modi but it did not specify where this speech was taking place or whether it was old or new footage.

 

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West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her now expected callous remarks about the death of a student protestor got the usual amount of flak from the media. She and her close associates however continue to brazen it out as they take West Bengal down some specially chosen perilous path. Even Shri Goswami seems at a loss to ask what Bengal wants to know.

 

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For those who want a break from our respected news anchors might take a remote trip to Comedy Central where they will meet Rajbeep Mardesai and Ornob Goswimming who discuss pressing issues of the moment: Is Comedy Central this funny or is Comedy Central that funny. Worth a few giggles.

 

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