Monday, March 8, 2010

Spare met the Tweets

Interlocutor - "Helps in a Dialogue"; Mediator - "Helps in bringing about an agreement"

O.K. Mr. Tharoor there's a difference. But so what if there's a difference, I am the journalist and I decide what you meant to convey. You only have the choice to retract, apologise, clarify or withdraw your statement, cause I have already written about what I think of what you thought you wanted to convey. It doesn't matter that you are a distinguished diplomat, writer and man with perhaps more intellect than I. You are still not the journalist, even worse, you ended up as an Indian politician, perhaps the only class that enjoys lesser credibility than me the Indian Journalist. So when I say you need to learn what to say and how to say what you say to the media, then you must listen, lest I remind you again that I am the Indian Journalist.

I went to a journalism school for two weeks, that was enough wasn't it... what's there to learn in the first place. But in those two weeks I did meet a proffesor who I would like to keep anonymous. I 'll call him Mr. X. I was having breakfast when I heard about your "Saudi Arabian trouble" and when I looked up Mr. X was sitting next to me, staring me down just the way he did a decade ago. He asked me "What would've been your lead". "Hmmm" I wondered a bit .... I wanted to sound knowledgeable and decisive and be a great foreign policy reporter. Just as I was about to respond Mr.X interrupted "What did he say". I said "Wants the Saudi’s to interlocute". "So" he said. "So it's a big story isn't it" I replied. He said "O.K." "But what would you check first". Ahh.. I got him here and I couldn't be wrong "The history Indo Pak relations and the Saudi connection" "I would get quote and expert opinion". Mr. X looked at me with a little condescension. The old man has always done that hasn't he, but I got him this time and he couldn't agree that I was right. Those moments of self adulation quickly disappeared; Mr. X asked me "What does interlocutor mean and what's the difference between mediator and interlocutor". I guess doing that gives me the real picture, but then why do that when you have an alleged "foreign policy departure" and a lead story in your hands.

We don't have too many Mr. Xs around and what we have instead are those like me. So when there's an elucidation that asking for Saudi interlocution on dealing with Pakistan on "Terror" is different from Saudi interlocution in dealing with Pakistan on "Kashmir", I will still take it as the same and claim that you’re trying to use diplomatic nuances to wriggle out of a politically disastrous statement. It doesn't matter what transpires between you and your party and I will continue to say that you have been "summoned" and "Told off".

Yes, the logical and progressive thing to do would be to ask me to be more mature when I report, but I have to remind you that I am the journalist and you cannot tweet that. What you can instead do is try to be more illiterate in how you say, what you say. Keep the diplomacy and the wits for those who would appreciate it and keep the more elaborate and simple statements for those like me. Don't expect me to know the language and the sense you derive from it. There are many amongst me who are brilliant and can match your intellect, choose them if you must. But for the rest of us just use the fundamental rule of TV journalism "KISS" "Keep it Short and Simple”.... spare us the tweets.

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