How Essar Used Journalists to Plant Favourable Stories—Emails Reproduced Here

03 March 2015

The claim that corporate organisations are extremely conscious of their image is a truism, which is why managing the media is a crucial part of their operations. The emails that a whistleblower from Essar leaked to Prashant Bhushan, a lawyer and member of the Aam Aadmi Party, are telling in this respect. The content of the email explicitly lays out the manner in which the company attempted to leverage its position with the media by either directly getting in touch with journalists to plant stories, or cultivating a relationship with journalists over a long period of time through petty favours.

Journalists meet various people in the course of reporting for a story, it is an intrinsic part of their job. A journalist whose assigned beat deals with corporate houses would be in regular touch with them. Meeting a representative of the company does not necessarily suggest any wrongdoing on the journalist’s part. Moreover, simply because an employee of the company is eager to take credit for every story that projects the company in a positive or sympathetic mood, does not imply that the reporting was compromised. But when stories by a journalist who was in constant touch with a representative from such a company appear to be single-sourced, based on weak reporting and adamant on promoting a particular perspective that could be advantageous to a corporate entity, there is reason to doubt their veracity.