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A Dollop Of Goan Quid Pro Quo

Goa’s first journalism awards raises the question - should a PR company be sponsoring journalism awards?

Goa Beach

Funded by a public relations agency, politicians and a casino-operating hotel among others, Goa’s first journalism award extravaganza has come under a cloud of alleged financial bungling and propriety issues.The sheen of the Goa Media Awards 2013, organised in February, by the little-known Saimaa Creations and a working journalists union, the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ), is fast fading, with the latter raising questions about the monies raised in sponsorship and spent for the event.

The award ceremony which was interspersed with a songs, dances and skits, was attended by chief minister Manohar Parrikar, several legislators. The guest of honour was the editor of IBN 7, Ashutosh.

“We have received oral and written complaints about the organisation of the award and the manner in which the awards were given. We have decided to put it before the union’s general body before taking a decision. As far as credibility of journalism and journalists in Goa is concerned, it is a sensitive matter”, said GUJ president Pandurang Gaonkar, when I spoke to him.

According to the organiser of the awards, Jitendra Shikerkar, who along with his partner Paresh, run Saimaa Creations, Adfactors, India’s largest public relations firm had promised Rs 1 lakh in sponsorship for the event.“Adfactors came in at a real crunch time to support us with Rs 1 lakh, which they have promised us for hosting the award”.

Adfactors, a public relations firm, “supporting” a journalism award in Goa is of key significance. Adfactors holds a critical brief for the state’s tainted (of recent) mining industry, represented often by the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association (GMOEA), the voice of Goa’s mining majors since 1963.

Ironically, the same PR agency which hones and articulates the voice and position of Goa’s mining industry, many of whose players have been accused in the Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining scam by a judicial commission, has also been roped in by the Goa government’s tourism department to up the state’s profile as a leading tourism destination.

“It borders on the unethical. We all know how PR agencies strut their stuff and get their way through newsrooms and into newsprint. Although PR agencies and all the unethical stuff they do is getting wide acceptability in the mainstream media, I think it’s still unethical for journalism awards to be funded by PR agencies”, says former GUJ president Ashley do Rosario.

Speaking about some of the other contentious sponsors who pitched in financial support for the event Jitendra said: “We have also received sponsorship from Micky Pacheco (Rs 50,000), Rohan Khaunte (Rs 15,000) and Reginaldo Lourenco (Rs 5,000)”.

Micky Pacheco is a former tourism minister and heads the Goa Vikas Party (GVP) and is quite infamous in Goa – known more for his non-political ‘glories’.The legislator from Nuvem has a string of criminal cases against him ranging from bigamy, assault and extortion. He was forced to resign from the cabinet in 2010 after he was linked to the death of his alleged lover Nadia Torrado, who had committed suicide. He is also being probed for human trafficking and money laundering by the US government’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which has formally asked the Central government to probe him.

Rohan Khaunte is an independent MLA, while Reginaldo Lourenco is a senior Congress legislator.  According to Jitendra, the other sponsors included Hotel Neo Majestic, which is run by operators of a casino chain,Caculo a city mall and the Goa tourism department which dished out Rs 2 lakh, among others.

PrakashKamat, a senior journalist who writes for The Hindu from Goa, hints that adequate care may not have been taken by the GUJ while bandying up with partners for the award.“I believe GUJ is a responsible trade union registered body of working journalists with years of reputation to its credit. GUJ has also taken a stand on professional issues related to the media from time to time. That is why it must be cautious and careful in association with any body or organisation, all the more when media awards are concerned” he said.

Propriety is not the only issue which is giving a section of the journalist community ulcers. Questions are also being raised about the allegedly non-transparent manner in which award winners wereselected and monies raised and spent for the event.

“We have repeatedly asked them to furnish notarised accounts of the sponsorship and funding and nothing has come through yet”, claims Pandurang, even as Saimaa’s Jitendra insists, that they were in the process of finalising accounts for the events which were held on February 16, 2013.

The money squabbles have become even more vicious between the journalists’ body and the award organisers after the chief minister announced an additional Rs 5 lakh sponsorship for the event.Jitendra claims that he suffered a loss of Rs 5.5 lakh while organising the awards event and that he was the rightful claimant to the money.

With the heat now on the Journalists Union to explain the exact nature of its relationship with Saimaa Creations, the cracks are beginning to show in its story too.While the union’s secretary VithaldasHegde claims that the union had “nothing” to do with organising of the awards, barring selection of a candidate for the Lifetime Achievement award, a letter he has signed along with his president, speaks a different story.

The letter dated Jan 31, 2013 says that GUJ had decided to collaborate with the organisers for organising the state’s first journalism award.“We, hereby request you to highlight the collaboration of the Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) in the event and make the event a grand success”, the letter says.

Leaves one wondering whom should one believe more, a jilted journalists’ body or an event organiser, who could only “profit” from a media event.

Contact Mayabhushan

 

Image By: Sakshi Bhatia

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More from Mayabhushan Nagvenkar


  • Jonquil

    More than the event management company, really speaks volumes about the functioning of GUJ and its members. This needed to be highlighted and good on you for saying it, Mayabhushan!

  • Gary Azavedo

    Why has this article been written two months after the event had occurred? Is there any ulterior motives behind this item?

  • Hartman de Souza

    I suspect this article was written two months after the vent only because matters had been so effectively disbursed under the carpet so to speak. I am a Goan journalist of some repute over many moons and I can say in no uncertain terms that I find this apparent complicity disgusting.

    Very good for you Mayabhushan, may your trible increase and multiply!

  • Bindiya Vaval Naik

    I guess everyone talked about the awards and questioned each other… had discussions.. but until this article no one dared to talk about it so openly…

  • HerJour

    Mayabhushan, Dista toshem asona .Dhongor pois sut’tean sajre, lagim sut’tean kajre

    U Brave man, but one question for you.

    You tell Newslaundry (in June, 2012) that you are working as Journalist since 1997 but hit some bad patch in your career due to your honesty. And that a friend and fellow journlaist surrendered his job at IANS so you could get it. Both of you are friends and have worked for IANS

    Same journalist who worked for IANS interviewed your blog PenPricks ( 2008) for TheHoot abt your sting operation abt false Nazis in Goa was done on Times of India, Indian Express, DC and Telegraph. was there a sting operation done on IANS as well? Penpricks did not critique IANS ever. Every jouranlist asks why?

    As soon as this article published (April, 2013) about Goa Union of Jounalists function controversy, your friend and fellow journalist from IANS was the first to put it on our Goa Journo Group so every journalist in Goa could read it.

    You have attacked us journalist from Herald, NT, NDTV and others in Goa. Can you tell all journalist who all where behind Penpricks and was it one News Agency in Goa attacking rival media? Find errors in all of us newspapers in Goa, but lets read few articles about your own news agency as well. And tell us how many mens from your news agency were involved in Penpricks.

    I think you r good and brave man, but people are using you in some ways. Continue good work but cover all media in Goa.

    • Sardesi

      5 days and even today no denial from 2 IANS journalists in Goa that they run PenPricks which probed only some media in Goa minus IANS. Read Hoot to see how IANS Journalist planted interview praising own site Penpricks. Myself will contact Sevanti Ninan of Hoot and tell her about selective reports by Penpricks which protect friends and attack journalist competitiion. Maybe IANS perfect and so they find no fault in own employer, or because they get paid there

    • NTTStaff

      Two journalists linked with 1 news agency used Penpricks to attacks rival medias, Not one expose of own news agency or other portals that hire them, And they cannot see any conflict of interest!?!? Anyone looking to take Penpricks to Court should uncover mails and internet logon of these 2 journalist in 2007-08, Once national media in Mumbai sees this legal action there will be no kind words for these 2 in journalist community because they expose rivals never organizations that hire them. Mayabhushan, so sorry that you have been used by people who were doing the same hatred on net even before you returned home to Goa. Advise to you is keep every email and communication with comrades in Penpenricks because you will need it in future as evidence. More facts are being investigated about your comrades which even you don’t know yet, but will be released soon. Advise is to do sting on anyone who used you.

  • take

    test

  • PatrickUK

    You are a good and respected journalist, but every Goan journalist needs to find out link betweeen IANS and Penspricks.

    I researched for few days and there is conflict of interest between few people in IANS and your Penpricks

    Why Penpricks only criticize media competing with IANS? Why no hard articles on IANS?

    When you start writing for IANS? Was it same period as Penpricks?

    Why some people in IANS promote Penpricks to blog Hoot without giving link between friendship of IANS and penpricks? Why Penpricks print articles by same news agency?

    If any senior journalist has used you as front best would be to say sorry and reveal this senior journalist name and links. This is serious and all quid pro quo made public. As you fantastic journalist much regarded, this is minor mistake if you reveal truth. Everone likes you and all of we Journalists (print and web) have made some mistakes. So, we forgive and move on in true Goan spirit.

    Me feels you fantastic journo, but some people misuse your idealism.

    Till this is brought out in open recommend you stay offline. Give facts to Newslaundry and Hoot so they can publish independent reports.

  • GoanJournalist

    The author of this article is man of integrity nd most of hs news reports are v good. We shoud leave this brave man alone as he has made public his role in blog PenPricks. Please wait and there will soon be a report on the other people behind PenPricks. C U next week.