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TRUST BETRAYED: TV JOURNO BACK STABS, DOUBLE CROSSES PUBLICIST FOR 15 SECONDS OF FAME

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Rejane Coelho – Futuristic Media Network (futuristicmedianetwork@gmail.com)

 

 

 

Bollywood scriptwriter, freelance journalist and celebrity publicist Flynn Remedios was at the receiving end when a Headlines Today journo Aditya Amal and a couple of others broke the trust imposed in them and double crossed him. They promised him excellent coverage on Aajtak, claiming to be Aajtak journos if he shared with them private footage of some earlier rehearsal recording.

 

The story goes like this: PR invites journalists for a play or stage performance. As usual, PR hypes it up saying it’s a great, splendid performance and lots of Dhamaal expected. Messages are sent to media requesting them to witness a great performance. PR makes follow-up calls to ensure media attendance. Journo from the News channel says he cannot cover it as they don’t normally cover plays. Journo says, unless he gets something exclusive or unless he is given special footage or the exclusive opportunity to get some ‘great’ footage he cannot send his unit.

 

 

 

In course of the conversation, PR suggests he has some earlier shot rehearsal footage which is not part of the actual stage performance. Once journo gets to know about this he begs, borrows and steals the footage promising, inducing and even threatening the PR who in the anxiety to get some fab publicity doesn’t even take his client’s permission to hand over footage which was shot to improvise the scene enacted in the play.

 

Says Flynn Remedios, himself a journalist and writer for the last 16 years, “The relationship between a journalist and a publicist is based on Trust. The world over, every day thousands of journalists and publicists discuss, suggest, brainstorm and “pitch” stories. Publicists are very often some of the most confidential “sources” for journalists and as a journalist myself we learn to protect our “sources” with our lives from the very start of our career. A journalist is only as good as his or her “source”. Journalists and Publicists are both highly qualified professionals of this great fraternity called the Media. So when a publicist “pitches” a story to a journalist the ensuing conversation is privileged. A journalist is under no obligation to accept or “do” the story pitched to him. But the entire process of pitching a story is an accepted principle of Public Relations and is a confidential discussion as would be between a lawyer and client or doctor or patient. It is solely on this Principle Of Trust that thousands of publicists the world over pitch stories and journalists in turn call spin doctors for “masala” or info. As a publicist myself, I get at least five calls each day from both Tv and Print journalists asking for information or “leads” or inputs which I am under no obligation to share, but which I may do “OFF RECORD” or ON CONDITION OF ANONYMITY. Besides this concept of pitching stories, the concept of “OFF RECORD”  or CONDITION OF ANONYMITY is sacrosanct. What is off record is and must stay Off  Record. These concepts and principles have been accepted and religiously respected by media professionals the world over ever since mass media came into existence.

 

Bollywood news or masala is mostly gossip or grapevine. But imagine what would happen if a journo forgot the code of Omerta and  quoted on record the chairman of a large corporate or a politician on something that was strictly meant to be off record. Imagine what would happen if a publication or Tv channel did a sting operation on one of their own brethren or fraternity or bit the hand that fed them with juicy tidbits each day.”

 

This is exactly what happened to Flynn Remedios. According to our information the concerned journalist conned, cajoled,  coaxed and even coerced Flynn Remedios to part with video footage which was strictly confidential and private. Explains Flynn Remedios, “I was not ready to give them that footage (Read RAW footage). But they told me that if I wanted coverage for my client I must give them all the raw footage. That footage was of a rehearsal and was the private and confidential property of my company. It was given under certain explicit terms and conditions. There was a clear embargo against its use except for the sole purpose for what it was given. In that sense the journalist concerned cheated me and has committed breach of trust. He has fraudulently induced me to part with private footage the copyright of which is solely with me and the producer. The footage was given under a verbal contract that it would be used for “a” particular purpose only. In that sense they have stolen my private footage by misrepresenting themselves, cheating me and then claiming it to be a sting operation.

 

We share a lot of confidential info with journalists and also pass comments or voice our personal and private opinion about our clients or the products we promote based on this concept of Trust. Very often a journalist will ask a PR questions or info which is off record only for his background or personal knowledge. And a PR may say things in good faith or may share certain info which he otherwise should not because of this concept of trust.  But what
happens when an over enthusiastic journo or editor clandestinely records this conversation and projects it as a sting operation. Bollywood gossip is not in national interest or in the interest of national security. I am not a government servant or public servant or official. What was the journalist and channel trying to prove. The journalist called me several times and almost begged and cajoled me to give him the footage. He asked me to get him some smokes at 3 am. I gave him a pack of fags which I borrowed from someone else because I considered him a friend and brother.  But all the while he had a hidden camera on.

 

 

In fact, I would like to inform all PR professionals and the general public at large not to entertain one TV journalist Mr Aditya Amal and another called Sachin. They will double cross you and anything you may share with them off record and in confidence will be taped by hidden cameras. I never contacted or telephoned or called Aditya Amal. I didn’t know him from Adam. I contacted a friend and asked him for help. A friend who has also asked me for help in the past. If journalists do sting operations on their PR sources, then I would like to tell them (that is the rotten apples among their ilk)  that several journalists have asked me for favours which I am ashamed to even mention. Should I start doing sting operations every time a journo calls up for a favour.

 

Will the Aditya Amal who came to me as a friend and even told me who his ex girlfriend was from another channel,  tell me what should I have done when a former Bureau Chief from the same group that his news channel belongs to asked for sexual favours from one of my former clients. What should I have done when other journalists asked me for “loans” to marry their kids or to pay their credit card bills or their car EMIs. Will you please tell me Aditya Amal as to what should I have done when an editor of a new news channel asked me to get him or arrange for “funding” from a certain politician and another business baron whom I was close to. I could have done a sting operation and got my 15 seconds of fame brother Aditya, but I respect the code. The code of silence that keeps this great industry called “the media” going. A lot of journalists ask for illegal favours. I politely decline. But I don’t kiss and tell. I don’t indulge in pillow talk brother Aditya. I don’t rat on journos who ditch me or let me down. We need each other. We exist because the other does. If I was trying to spice up my story, I was doing my legitimate job which is accepted as a profession by the University of Mumbai. You asked for the “special footage” which I would have never given. You phoned me several times. Brother Aditya all my phone calls are recorded by default. It says so on my website too. But I don’t make private conversations public. I NEVER reveal info that’s meant to be Off Record. You broke the code. And it was not in national interest or in the interest of national security. It was not to expose a corrupt official. It was to try to pull the rug off the feet of a poor, hard working dedicated PR professional. It was for your and your Channels’ 15 seconds of fame brother, not mine or my clients. And the sad part is my client didn’t know anything about this. My client was unaware of everything.”

 

 

We tried to contact the journalist concerned, immediately after this footage went on air, but his phone was switched off and he was not reachable. We wonder why would he switch off his phone when he had the scoop of the day.

 

 

Well, well what do we say to all this. Like they say when clouds collide there is bound to be lightning. But when brothers in arms fight its really sad and reflects the dog-eat-dog world we live in.

 

 

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