Journalist Sardesai sours on Twitter: “Had hoped to interact; failed.”

April 22, 2013

(The following post contains some essential Hindi translation help from my colleagues Arnika Thakur, Suraj Balakrishnan and Havovi Cooper. Any remaining errors or lack of precision are my fault as I reviewed and participated in all translations. Additionally, any opinions here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)

From the desk of Rajdeep Sardesai, editor in chief of Indian news network IBN Live (I stitched these sentences together from his Twitter account):

My timeline suggests little space for healthy debate/discussion on twitter. So will no longer raise any political issues on the medium. Will continue writing/talking on issues of natl interest in print/tv, but not on twitter. Will continue to write in print/speak on tv. But will no longer seek twitter as a medium for public debate. Had hoped to interact; failed. A journalist has only his integrity/credibility. That has been abused on this medium for too long by unknown people. Time to switch off.

Or: I’ve had it with you awful people. You are intolerable and I don’t have to tolerate your abuse.


I can’t determine whether Sardesai plans to leave Twitter or whether he is going to save just his political coverage and thoughts for the papers and for television. I also don’t know which comments or which Twitter users led him to this decision, though I have asked him these questions.

Some people encouraged Sardesai to focus on the positive:

@samarmumbaikhan: don’t let a few bigots and narrow minded people turn u away from twitter … That would be sad and a victory for them

@PawanDurani What happened so suddenly ? In amedium where we all can exchange on level field , quitting would be unfair to readers.

@GappistanRadio Kya sir, aap fir jazbaati ho rahe hain.. [you’re being emotional again]. Few abuse but many try to interact in a civil manner as well.. Aap date raho.. [keep going!]

Some people were less charitable:

@YearOfRat Because no 1 likes a feedback… sirji, you rarely interacted with anyone here. You treated twitter like a 1 way street. There was no public debate, ever.

@Themangofellow Rajdeep Sardesai quits twitter owing to lack of healthy debate.. Thats like asking Sambar with Pasta

@rekharamaswamy So “Rajbeep” Sardesai is quitting twitter. Well doesnt make a difference to me because he blocked me for asking some sharp questions of him

@VarunPrakash31 Sardesai is a very very coward person he has no face bcoz he has no soul his soul is sold to Congress. Block me is not a solution i find u

Then there was this conversation, which includes Indianomix co-author and my Twitter friend Rupa:

‏@RupaSubramanya while I respect @sardesairajdeep decsn to leave Twitter,imo by doing so he’s conceding space to those who abuse.Bad precedent

Ravinder Sabarwal ‏@_wellnz: True! expected him as a senior journalist to fight back and set things right.

Let’s give that a second thought. One of Twitter’s strengths is that it allows journalists and their fans and detractors to talk, spar, debate, discuss, interact. It’s a lovely idea because it elevates the reader and it allows journalists to show people that they’re in the same universe as their readers. That’s the ideal. The reality is that many people are rude, abusive, simplistic, conspiratorial, suspicious and paranoid. Most of us are not as smart as we think we are, and many of us don’t know when to end the discussion. If comment sections of many news websites are cesspools of the worst of human nature, Twitter is the two-way radio version. Most journalists today understand that they should be on Twitter, if for no other reason than because it’s such an important part of news delivery.

What most people don’t understand, however, is that being on Twitter is not a licence to abuse those journalists — or anyone else — with impunity. If every visit to Twitter results in unsophisticated, nasty, shabby treatment at the hands of hundreds or thousands of foul-mouthed people, why would anyone stick around for that? Sardesai gave it a try. Regardless of any real or perceived failings or shortcomings on Sardesai’s part, he is not obligated to put up with abuse. It’s unfortunate for the rest of us, but for that, people should blame their fellow Twitter users, not Sardesai.

One comment

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Well it may be difficult to judge somebody! Some people are better at overlooking criticism, some are quite sensitive, and there can’t be one strategy of countering insults. There are days when you can overlook, reply with wittiness or worse reply with insults. I don’t know what was said to him that he reacted so sensitively! But honestly some of the tweets to Sagarika are shocking. That people can stoop so low is shocking. But yes at the end of the day Twitter followers can be more reasonable in their behaviour. :)

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