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NDTV’s unethical practices and questionable integrity

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Anant Chetan
Anant Chetan
An aficionado blogger and an engineer by profession. By qualifications, a Masters in Embedded System Design.

The recent Nidhi Razdan Harvard fiasco has once again brought NDTV’s appalling work culture, questionable integrity and unethical practices to the surface. She alleges that she had been a victim of a sophisticated phishing attack. As of now there is only her version of the story available, her tweets, here blog and her words, and that’s it, nothing more. There is absolutely nothing concrete about the act. For now, we don’t have any option other than believing in what she says. However, if indeed she was a victim of a sophisticated phishing attack it was a very unique kind of attack. Probably the only one of its kind. The “victim” of the attack not only reaped financial benefits because of the scam but also added stars in her approval ratings.

She covered the US election as an Associate professor, not just once but several times. You must have already seen tons of her tweets where she proudly stated her “Associate Professor at Harvard” designation to add weight to her statements. You could have a look at one of the videos here, you could easily hear her new introduction by Prannoy: “Professor Nidhi at Harvard, You will make them proud, Mark my words” albeit sounds a little laughable at this point. A snapshot from that debate:

This does raise a big question for NDTV’s credibility. How do I know that the other panelists that NDTV invites in its debates and discussions on a regular basis are not fake or so to say twitter professors? Every other day, some anchor claims that xyz professor says that xyz policy implemented by the Indian Govt is not good for the people of India. Is anybody verifying the credentials? It is clear that since, NDTV is not doing any kind of verification before inviting the panelists how am I suppose to know who is authentic and who is not?

NDTV encashed this opportunity quite handsomely on twitter as well:

Associate Professor, Harvard just adds a lot of weight to a statement. Doesn’t it? Not only this, she had been using this new designation of hers for her personal gains as well.

The so called certified news verification trainer did not ask for any documents, if they would have, they would have known. Wouldn’t they? How are these people verifying news? By looking at twitter? Or did they already know about this and were playing alongside her? After all they were also making money. Weren’t they?

Moreover using a logo and designation like this isn’t just unethical, it is illegal, at least in Europe. I mentioned EU specifically because I know about it. A few years ago, after I made my final masters thesis presentation, I walked up to my professor to ask when will the final grades be available, he stated “As of today, you have passed your exams and can collect a letter stating the same from the international students office, using which you can apply for different jobs. You will receive your final grades in a few weeks time. And remember, you can not use Master of Science as a designation in front of your name until the time final grades are approved and you get a certificate with the university stamp on it.” I guess, the law does not apply to me alone, it applies to everyone including her. Since, she was going there as a professor, she would have needed University’s Contract and official business card to be able to use the logo and designation.

As if all this was not embarrassing for her, she wrote a blog explaining how she was tricked into believing that she got a job from Harvard, exposing her already questionable and dubious integrity even more. She says there is a Journalism course at Harvard “Harvard Extension School.” For a moment let us agree to her, okay there is a degree. The thing is Harvard Extension School is not Harvard University and it definitely is not Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

They are entirely different, the issued degrees are different, the logos are different. You could see the difference in the logos yourself, I tried to see what logo comes up if I add education on Linkedin, the exact same options would appear if you fill up the work related info, have a look:

She is using the first logo instead of the second one, simply to misguide people. May be she would not have got 92.2k likes and almost 15k “congrats” on her twitter profile if she had mentioned HES instead of a school like Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. And mind it, I am not saying this, you could have a look at the Harvard blog for this, a few lines from the blog:

“A lot of people do not make it clear that they attended the Extension School, and instead list “Harvard University” on their resumes, either in a misguided justification to hide the Extension School affiliation, or an outright misleading attempt to make it seem as if they graduated from Harvard College, the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS)”

Turns out she is not the only one who lies and has questionable integrity. But others are not posing as the torch bearers of truth in the country.

She wrote a complete blog without investigating about HES, what kind of investigative journalist is she? I wonder how she managed to win International Press Institute award for excellence in journalism for Kathua rape and murder case expose. I guess the worth and significance of the journalism awards is not any more than that of the film fare awards in India. Or perhaps the sole purpose of these awards is to be used as a means to express dissent by returning them when there is a policy you don’t like. Phishing attacks are serious and should not be taken lightly, any body can fall victim of these attacks. However, it is not expected out of an experienced journalist with over two decades of experience to just have no clue as to what is happening. I guess its the work culture that clouded her judgement i.e. she is the smartest person in the room and the way she sees a situation is the only possible way to look at it and is now a universal truth, rest every thing else is just a propaganda. Is it not weird that she not even once cared to see if there is another side of her own story?

Not surprisingly other reporters in NDTV are not any different. Their integrity and ethics are as dubious and questionable as hers. Just a few days ago, another star performer of NDTV’s Prime Time, Mr. Ravish Kumar was slammed for spreading fake news.

He has already apologized for this and accepted his mistake. Its easy, promote your own agenda, run propaganda, spread fake news and when caught, say “Sorry, it was an honest mistake”. To err is human, he might or rather will do it again, what can anybody do. As soon as the government comes up with some regulation, freedom of press would be in danger. Wouldn’t it be?

The problem with people like them is that they think they are the only smart, literate, intellectual people in India, whatever they say is the ultimate truth and anyone who questions their perspective or tries to look at the other aspects, is a dismissed as a Bhakt, an andbhakt, a Sanghi or a graduate from WhatsApp university. You can literally see Ravish Kumar calling out these names literally in each of his interactions; not just calling names for other channels and reporters but also for the audience.

I think it is the culture at NDTV to be dismissive and arrogant. Prime Time has literally become a parody show and is no more a mainstream news show. You should compare Zee News’ DNA by Sudhir Chaudhary and NDTV’s Prime Time by Ravish Kumar. You can easily see the difference. I am not at all talking about the content of the shows (I know different people would have different opinions, which is absolutely fine), I am talking only about things like professionalism, attitude, tone, body language, facial expressions, choice of words etc. A lot of you tube journalists are more professional, sincere and serious than the ones at NDTV. It is no wonder that the New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) is posting losses quarter after quarter and its stock prices are constantly falling.

Yeah, of course the channel wants every one to believe that its not their fault. But in reality it is their and only their fault. They were the champions only when the competition was minimal. There stock prices started falling since 2007-08, just for those who might be thinking that their stocks are falling only during this government. They are infact sailing in the same boat that Indian National Congress is sailing; the existential crisis boat. If both INC and NDTV have to survive, they need to change the people they currently have with them.

In looking for people to hire, look for three qualities : Integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.

—Warren Buffet

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Anant Chetan
Anant Chetan
An aficionado blogger and an engineer by profession. By qualifications, a Masters in Embedded System Design.
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