Response from Business Standard – Letters to Business Standard Editors – CCFI advertorial episode

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Shyamal Majumdar <shyamal.majumdar@bsmail.in>
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2020 at 19:29
Subject: Re: Fw: Seeking an apology and an equal space for counter views to be published by BS
To: Kavitha Kuruganti <kavitakuruganti@gmail.com>


Thanks, Ms Kuruganti. We will get back tomorrow.
Regards

 

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Kavitha Kuruganti <kavitakuruganti@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2020 at 18:11
Subject: Re: Fw: Seeking an apology and an equal space for counter views to be published by BS
To: Shyamal Majumdar <shyamal.majumdar@bsmail.in>


Dear Mr Shyamal Majumdar,

Thanks for your mail. I am attaching a piece in response to the full page advertorial to defend myself against the 2-3 specific allegations made against me, but also on the general line of attack that the advertorial took, because that also covers me. This word length of my piece is an average opinion piece length and I am sure Business Standard would not shy away from publishing it in full.

I also got to see BS’s letter to another concerned person wherein you mentioned that you have decided not to take any revenue for the advertorial published; you had already confirmed that the advertorial has been withdrawn from your website. I would like to place on record my appreciation of these actions taken by Business Standard.

I will wait for the final version of the attached article before it goes for printing – I expect that it will be edited only for syntax and other matters, like any other opinion piece or advertorial that you publish would be. Thank you.
 
 
Kavitha Kuruganti

On Sun, 2 Aug 2020 at 16:22, Shyamal Majumdar <shyamal.majumdar@bsmail.in> wrote:
Dear Ms Kuruganti,
Thanks for your mail.
The word length should be 350 words.
After editing at our end, we would play it back to you before use.
As per our policy, we will carry it on an inside page where the advertorial had appeared.
The advertorial, which was part of the Business Standard e-paper, has been withdrawn from our website.
Regards
Shyamal Majumdar
 
 
From: Kavitha Kuruganti <kavitakuruganti@gmail.com>
To: Shyamal Majumdar <shyamal.majumdar@bsmail.in>
Date: 31-07-2020 12:01
Subject: Re: Fw: Seeking an apology and an equal space for counter views to be published by BS




Dear Mr Majumdar,

One more thing, pls. This correspondence – my letters to you and your responses – will be in the public domain since this is not just a matter of personal defamation, but a matter of greater public interest in terms of media ethics, this tool called “advertorial” that is in the hands of people with deep pockets etc. I thought I should inform you about this. Thank you. 


Kavitha

——— Forwarded message ———
From: Kavitha Kuruganti <kavitakuruganti@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2020 at 11:59
Subject: Re: Fw: Seeking an apology and an equal space for counter views to be published by BS
To: Shyamal Majumdar <shyamal.majumdar@bsmail.in>

Dear Mr Majumdar,

One more thing, pls. This correspondence – my letters to you and your responses – will be in the public domain since this is not just a matter of personal defamation, but a matter of greater public interest in terms of media ethics, this tool called “advertorial” that is in the hands of people with deep pockets etc. I thought I should inform you about this. Thank you. 

Kavitha

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Kavitha Kuruganti <kavitakuruganti@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2020 at 10:59
Subject: Re: Fw: Seeking an apology and an equal space for counter views to be published by BS
To: Shyamal Majumdar <shyamal.majumdar@bsmail.in>

Dear Mr Majumdar,

Thank you for your mail.

Can you please let me know the following details before we proceed further:

1. What is the word length for my response;
2. Will the piece be shown to me for my sign-off after BS’s editing before publishing;
3. In which page were you thinking of publishing it;  
4. Will the CCFI advertorial be withdrawn from the website, since it continues to cause damage by being there – if not, how do you propose to address this- for instance, by linking the rejoinder piece to the advertorial?;
5. Will BS reach out proactively to other people/organisations named in the advertorial or not;
6. Is BS contemplating about sharing publicly the revenue earned from the advertorial and also if the same will be returned to CCFI. This then will be in line with Business Standard’s Code of Conduct, I feel.

I believe that what I am asking above are perfectly legitimate questions given that Business Standard is trying to be a fair media organisation with its own high standards, while that fairness cannot be achieved just by some cosmetic actions. Thank you.

Kavitha Kuruganti

On Thu, 30 Jul 2020 at 20:40, Shyamal Majumdar <shyamal.majumdar@bsmail.in> wrote:

Dear Ms Kuruganti,
Thanks for your mail. We will be happy to carry your response to the advertorial from Crop Care Federation of India, to the extent it pertained to you and your work. Your response will be subject to editing for length and stylistic reasons as also to legal vetting. Please send us your response to the advertorial.
Regards

Shyamal Majumdar
Editor

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Kavitha Kuruganti <kavitakuruganti@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2020 at 10:55
Subject: Seeking an apology and an equal space for counter views to be published by BS
To: <tn.ninan@bsmail.in>, <shailesh.dobhal@bsmail.in>

To:
Mr TN Ninan, Chairperson, Board of Directors, Business Standard Pvt Ltd
Mr Shailesh Dobhal, Team Leader, Editorial Team, Business Standard.

Dear Mr Ninan and Mr Dobhal,

Greetings! It was indeed sad to see Business Standard publish a full page “advertorial” from the pesticides industry’s association called Crop Care Federation of India yesterday (29th July 2020). I was one of the people named in the so-called advertorial and am therefore writing to you for corrective action.

I assume that as a paper that has its own well-spelt-out Code of Conduct (https://www.business-standard.com/code-of-conduct) which in turn champions standards and principles around Correctness, Gifts & Favours, Accuracy, Public Interest etc., you will extend the Code of Conduct to Advertorials also and not debase yourself even inadvertently by compromising on this code for the sake of earning revenue. 
It is one thing that advertisements might talk about a business entity’s product and present that entity’s own research on the product’s superior qualities of some kind or another – it is yet another matter that advertorial spaces are used for slander and defamation.

Crop Care Federation of India’s advertorial in the name of Nirmala Pathrawal, Executive Director of CCFI is incorrect on many counts and what is equally objectionable is the naming of people with their pictures without any counter or defence possible from those individuals. It is the modality as well as the content of what got published that I am objecting to.

For instance, I challenge Business Standard and CCFI to prove that I am a foreign funded activist and that I got access to a confidential document like the Pesticides Management Bill through the Agriculture Ministry contacts that I have “reach to”. I represent a volunteer-driven network which is not a legal entity, which does not have or accept any project funding, not even Indian project funding. We only do crowd-funding for any isolated events/activities that we take up.

I also challenge both BS and CCFI to prove that foreign funding itself is indicative of having “only objective to influence our policies to suit the interests of donors abroad”.

In terms of other persons and entities named, it is amazing that CCFI got away by not only lumping together several committed, experienced and credible civil society activists and organisations who are funded, non-funded and non-foreign-funded but also brought in several reputed public sector research bodies and their scientists into the same slandering banner. The fact that the pesticides industry is out to stifle even scientific research by SLAPP cases is well known – that these unscientific methods of the industry got space provided by Business Standard is quite unfortunate and condemnable.

These kinds of allegations imperil public spirited citizens like me in numerous ways and it was highly irresponsible of Business Standard to have published such an advertorial for some revenue to be earned.

Further, this space provided by BS to unscientific arguments ignores the very need for sustainable agriculture to be established on a large scale to regenerate environmental resources, to ensure safe food, to secure profitable and sustainable livelihoods for our farmers and to address climate change. It ignores international and national commitments towards sustainable development goals.

While I appreciate the brief front page “correction” that Business Standard put out in today’s paper, this is inadequate and will not suffice. It is not enough that you state that you dissociate yourself from the allegations, apart from saying that you regret the publication of the allegations. The allegations and other misinformation are themselves not acceptable, and you providing space for the same is not acceptable.I now ask Business Standard to publish a front page statement that admits that the advertorial went against BS’s own Code of Conduct, return back the revenue earned for setting a high bar of media ethics, and certainly give us an equal space to publish our counter-view to the industry’s advertorial. Needless to say, I also reserve all legal and other options available to me to ensure that ones who can throw money do not occupy public debate spaces through slander and misinformation just by virtue of paying for such spaces. This is against the very spirit of public interest that Business Standard espouses in its Code of Conduct.

Sincerely,

Kavitha Kuruganti
8880067772

 

1 thought on “Response from Business Standard – Letters to Business Standard Editors – CCFI advertorial episode

  1. Pingback: Pesticides endorsed? Business Standard ad on foreign funded NGOs malicious: Activists – Ten15AM

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