Saturday, April 13, 2024

REPORTERS’ DIARY: When chit-chat became news

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There is always something incongruous in a politician’s ‘chit-chat’ with media persons. For, what is the point in calling scribes if the talk is about inconsequential matters? The other day, Chief Minister Revanth Reddy chose to ‘chit-chat’ with scribes on the sixth floor of the Secretariat – literally and figuratively ‘height’ of access to media. In the invitation for that chit-chat, the words that raised the eyebrows of newshounds were: “…mobile phones, video cameras and photographers will not be allowed”. Journos itching to flash cusswords and profane language then reconciled to refrain from recording the conversation. The authorities went further and wanted the pens of invited journalists to be deposited at a specified counter. Later, when aggressive journalists put their foot down on the regressive measure, the pens were returned. Interestingly, digital watches were allowed. The Bharat Rashtra Samithi party then fished in troubled waters. Harish Rao went on to comment: “Journalists were allowed to roam freely in the Secretariat during our rule”. Although the words came from Harish Rao, who is normally strong on facts, he needs to do fact-checking at least in this case. For, the erstwhile BRS government had never allowed journalists inside the Secretariat – be it the erstwhile ad hoc BRKR Bhavan and other satellite offices or later in the newly built BR Ambedkar Secretariat. Besides, ‘roaming freely’ is still a distant dream in the Congress regime, notwithstanding the brouhaha over ‘full access to media’. In Telangana, media persons today need visitor’s passes to enter the Secretariat if there is no scheduled press meet.

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