Trip down memory lane about politicos-reporters relationship in TN

Chennai: The way DMDK treasurer Premalatha treated journalists at the press conference yesterday has deeply affected presspersons. Many of them say that they haven’t felt so humiliated as they did yesterday.

In general, there has always been good relations between journalists and politicians.

During the tenure of Kamarajar, he used to treat mediapersons with utmost care. Instead of holding press meets, he would have coffee with them and chat with them about current happenings. He will also take note of their criticism regarding his rule and then correct it. While on official foreign trips, he would ensure that journalists accompany him while having meals.

Another iconic politician, who created a revolution in Tamilnadu politics, DMK leader Anna, also had a healthy relationship with journalists. He would not be upset if reporters addressed him using his name while asking questions.

His successor, late Chief Minister Karunanidhi, called himself a journalist and would treat journalists cordially. At times, he would share humorous bits with reporters. I know this very well as a journalist who has attended a number of his press meets.

Even if he didn’t call the reporters for a meet, whenever presspersons call on him, he never failed to have a chat with them. No matter whether he is the Chief Minister or not, he always treated them well.

When MGR was the Opposition leader, he used to meet journalists often. He would treat them with affection. If mediapersons visit his party office in his absence, those looking after the office would also take good care of them. MGR is the one who started the habit of providing tiffin to journalists. This bit was handled by NGO Guild of Service.

During general body and executive committee meetings of the party, reporters who had to wait for long hours at Palmgrove hotel and Sathya Studio, would rush to meet MGR. However, he will first ask them to eat and wait till they finish before entertaining their questions.

In the same way, former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, too, handled mediapersons well. It was no secret that even before she stepped into politics, reporters would line up outside her Poes Garden residence. If she wished to meet the journalists, she will call them in and hold the press meet in the reception hall. She would also ensure they were served juice and coffee. Once, due to heavy rush of reporters, a journalist sat on a costly tepoy and was taking notes. But after sometime, the table broke. Though Jayalalithaa was shocked at this, she said, “It’s okay” and continued with the interview.

DMK president M K Stalin, just like his father, treats journalists in a friendly manner. Even if the reporters raise a number of uncomfortable questions, he never loses his temper.

Congress leader Moopanar had a wonder relationship with journalists. Whenever reporters met him, he would be hospitable. He would not only answer questions from the mediapersons but also try to know news through them. He would offer them cigarettes from his 555 pack. There was a time when some of the reporters would chat with him while smoking. Like his father, TMC leader G K Vasan is also friendly with journalists.

A number of Congress leaders maintained close relationship with presspersons. Some journalists have even reported news against the party from the Congress office itself. Even then, the party members would not object to them.

Leftist party leaders were friendly with journalists in their own fashion. The same can be said about BJP leaders.

I also got an opportunity to meet DMDK president, Vijayakanth. He treated us in a friendly manner. But, it is sad to note in recent times that his party leaders talk angrily to journalists. Especially, yesterday’s meet, when DMDK treasurer Premalatha addressed reporters in singular, without respect, saddened me.

But PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss, provoked by mediapersons at the recent press meet, though flustered, did not address them disrespectfully.

The reporters approach all politicians in the same way. Based on the information they get, they shoot questions. If any politician does not wish to answer, s/he has the right to avoid the question. Instead of this, pouncing on mediapersons is not right is what I would say as a journalist who has 47 years of experience.

Article: M Subramanian

The writer is Editor of Maalai Sudar

NT Bureau