Shocker: Headlines Today steals Hardnews Scoop
Headlines Today, the TV channel of the India Today group, ran a Hardnews exclusive projecting it as their own story -- thus defying all journalistic ethics
The Hardnews expose on Indian authorities allegedly submitting forged documents to the Swiss government in the $ 8 billion Hassan Ali Khan Hawala case is spawning a new breed of plagiarists.
Hardnews in its print edition of May 01, 2009, had done an on-the-spot and detailed investigation on the Swiss bank accounts and controversy--from Switzerland. Consequently, as a follow-up, when Hardnews posted its big scoop on its website, www.hardnewsmedia.com (May 06, 2009), it also sent out a press release to news agencies, newspapers and TV channels. Some of the channels, including India Today group's Headlines Today, showed keen interest in reporting on this story and sought time from our Editor and author of the scoop, Sanjay Kapoor, for an interview. Then seemingly there was a rethink -- results of which were seen a few days later -- and the reporters of the channel did not show up for the interview after dilly dallying for two days.
On May 8, The Hindu from Chennai took cognisance of the Hardnews' scoop. Later in the evening, Headlines Today came out with a shocker. All their prevarications of the last few days then fell in place. Boasting as a Headlines Today "exclusive", the channel desperate for a genuine headline, appropriated our Swiss Bank story. And, did they give credit to Hardnews for this expose? We did not hear it.
If there was a case of ethics in journalism touching its nadir, then there could be no better example than this.
Journalists are aghast at this brazen plagiarism. No journalist with pride or a media organisation that has integrity would have indulged in such a practice. So brazen has been this media group and so contemptuous they are of an independent group like Hardnews that they compounded their felony by crediting the same story to itself in their tabloid, Mail Today (of the India Today group). To reiterate, even Mail Today was sent the same press release on May 6. But, its editor chose to ignore it for petty journalistic reasons. This only proves that deep pockets and big money-muscle need not often work in synthesis with high quality or ethical journalism.
It is not surprising why Headlines Today chose to behave like this. Desperate for TRPs and credibility, they hijacked a genuine scoop of a small media organisation that they thought would not have the resources to protest. Also, they felt that BJP would pat them on their back for lending a hand to their hypocritical campaign to get black money back from Swiss banks.
Headlines Today does not realise what they have parroted in their channel borrowing from the original Hardnews scoop is just a trailer of more that will appear in the pages of the Hardnews magazine and on its website. We may be small, but we are not Hardnews for nothing. Watch out for more action.