Dutt Power

Note: Chaitanya Kalbag joined Hindustan Times as Editor-in-Chief from September 1, 2006. Earlier he was Managing Editor, Reuters Asia. Few weeks back at a panel discussion Kalbag said, "I have never felt that there has been any erosion in his editorial independence". He was responding to a question from a student of journalism at India International Centre. The student further asked him "what is the meaning of editorial independence when reporters are working like contract workers", both Kalbag and Vinod Mehta, his co-panelist were speechless.

Shobhana Bhartia is the daughter of the industrialist K K Birla and grand-daughter of G D Birla. The KK Birla family owned 75.36 per cent stake in HT Media. She is married to Shyam Sunder Bhartia, Chairman, Pharma firm Jubilant Organosys Ltd. Shobhana is the Vice-Chairperson and Editorial Director of the Hindustan Times group.

In February 2006, Shobhana was nominated to Rajya Sabha on a recommendation by by Sonia Gandhi. The nomination, reserved for eminent people from the fields of literature, science,art and social service, was challenged in the Supreme Court on the grounds that she was a "media baron" and not a journalist, and that she was politically affiliated with the Congress Party. The court dismissed the appeal saying that the scope of "social service" was broad enough to include her.

Not surprisingly, the editorial policy of Hindustan Times is biased towards Sonia Gandhi therefore, when Congress government came to power in 2004, she was made Padma Shree award nominees in 2005.

Dutt power
If you had any doubts about Barkha Dutt�s clout in the media world consider this: she wrote a column for the Hindustan Times which the current editor in chief (Chaitanya Kalbag) thought was a plug for the TV channel she works for. He wrote her to that effect whereupon she retaliated by stopping her column. Proprietor Shobhana Bhartia then stepped in. She got the editor to write and placate the queen of TV news, who then resumed her column.

the hoot


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