Journalists Shun Sting Operations in India


“Sting operations are morally, ethically and professionally wrong, they are pure drama and stunt, aimed at creating sensationalism. This is not responsible journalism.”

These were the views of veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar, chief patron of Media Nest. He shared his opinions about sting while speaking in a seminar “Sting operation: trial by fire”, organized by Media Nest at Jahangirabad Media Institute at Bara Banki last November 13, November 2010.

Media Nest, a registered India forum of media professionals had organized the seminar as part of its one day celebrations on its third anniversary.

Mr. Nayar sserted that if the means are wrong the results cannot be right. He urged media persons to practice responsible journalism and to follow the code of ethical reporting norms. He said the work of a journalist is to report the truth and only the truth. A journalist should not act as a policeman.

“Media is the Fourth Estate of a democracy and must be strongly rooted in truth. If they do not speak the truth who will,” said Mr. Nayar.

Editor of Urdu weekly Jadeed Markaz, Hissamul Siddiqui in his address earlier termed sting as a “blatant invasion of one’s privacy.”

“Sting is a dangerous trend. Mainly done due to personal and professional rivalry and mostly staged managed. Sting is driven by vested and commercial interests and the sting targets are on soft targets,” said Siddiqui.

Siddiqui blamed the media for cheating its viewers into believing which is not the truth. Agreeing with him in the tenor was senior BBC correspondent Ramdutt Tripathi

“The first pre-requisite of journalism is that the reporter should be detached from the subject. But this is not possible in a sting because the reporter is a part of the whole thing. Therefore sting violates the reporter’s code of ethics,” said Mr. Tripathi.

But speakers like ETV senior correspondent Khurram Nizami, and senior journalist and President of Media Nest, Sharat Pradhan defended sting saying it is essential and vital in today’s world where corruption is rampant.

Khurram who has done many sting operations said that requires time, effort and thorough planning. He said the essential thing is to have all the evidence and documents in one’s hand in a sting operation.

“Sting is a double edged sword, it should be used carefully. It must be ensured that it is being done to benefit society and is not aimed at raising the TRP of the channel,” said Nizami.

“We need sting operations to expose the truth,” asserted Sharat Pradhan adding that if the aim is pious the means used can be justified.”

Ajay Upreti, The Week’s senior correspondent spoke about sting and how it evolved.

Though the speakers differed in their views on the subject they all said that a sting is a report for public interest.

The secretary general of Media Nest, Kulsum Talha in her welcome address talked about how Media Nest came along and how it has been working. She highlighted the major events of its three years of operation. MN also announced its three flagship programs. These flagship programs are the Medical group insurance for Media persons and families, special health camps plans for media persons and lastly computer literacy workshops for retired and journalists of remote districts.

“It has been the privilege of Media Nest to work with UNICEF as partners on vital children’s issue for the past several years. In a historic move, still unparallel by any other press body, the UP Press Club has been generous to open its premises two afternoons, every month, for engaging with children’s issues. From May 2010, on the special request of the other Press Clubs Media Nest has been holding a session on children every month at different Press Clubs in the district,” informed Ms Talha.

Media Nest coordinated with Media for Children attempted to ensure that the children of Uttar Pradesh are heard especially those from the under-privileged section of society. Through this coordination, the children are heard and their pain shared.