TV Anchors and Lynch Mobs: Interview With Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

An Indian journalist, author, and documentary filmmaker, Guha Thakurta has written extensively on contemporary society, politics, and economy, with an eye on the rights of the marginalized. He has exposed some very high-profile cases of corruption involving the corporate sector, the government and the media.

His 2014 book, Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis (co-authored with Subir Ghosh and Jyotirmoy Chaudhuri) is a daring treatise on how the Reliance Group, India’s largest conglomerate, in collusion with those in power in the government, benefited by blatantly exploiting loopholes in the system. The book says, “The group deliberately ‘squatted’ on reserves of natural gas and curtailed production in anticipation of higher prices that are administered by the government, to the detriment of the interests of the country’s people.”

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In Sue the Messenger: How Legal Harassment by Corporates Is Shackling Reportage and Undermining Democracy in India (2016), Guha Thakurta and the lead author, Subir Ghosh, show with over a dozen case studies how big corporations maliciously slap legal cases on journalists and media companies to harass and intimidate them, control the flow of information and stifle dissent.

His documentary film Coal Curse: A Documentary on the Political Economy of Coal Energy (2013) was about all that’s wrong in the coal sector – corruption, human rights violations, etc. His other films include Hot As Hell: A Profile of Dhanbad (2006-07), Grabbing Eyeballs: What’s Unethical About Television News in India(2007), Advertorial: Selling News or Products? (2009), Blood & Iron: A Story of the Convergence of Crime, Business and Politics in Southern India (2010-11), and The Great Indian Telecom Robbery (2011).

Guha Thakurtha also wrote Media Ethics: Truth, Fairness and Objectivity and is a co-author of the report Paid News: How Corruption in the Indian Media Undermines Democracy, an exhaustive study on malpractices that plagues the country’s media.

He is currently the editor of The Economic and Political Weekly, the much respected peer-reviewed journal of social sciences described by The Guardian as “a unique institution providing an unrivaled commentary on the emergence of modern India.”

Guha Thakurtha recently spoke to The Diplomat on Indian media, corruption. and ethics. Edited excerpts of the interview follow.

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