I don’t normally pick fights with other cricket bloggers, and I don’t mean to start one with Kartikeya (over at A Cricketing View). From the rules of the game to the innards of cricket administration, this guy knows his stuff and he’s far better at finding details than I am. But his latest effort, which critiques an apparently inaccurate Times of India article on the BCCI, reaches some conclusions that are a bit too dangerous. Let’s do this:
Kartikeya is angry that the Times of India continue to peddle the conflict-of-interest angle on Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shashtri. He doesn’t think anybody has looked at the BCCI contract properly, and he backs up his claim with some interesting evidence. So far, so good. But then, he goes to a dark place:
Can you imagine the havoc that journalists with the standards of Pradhan and Narayanan could wreak if they were able to use the power of the Right To Information Act? The two have demonstrated a total inability to be fair to the subject of their story. This must surely be the first rule in any inquiry. […]
I will support bringing the BCCI under the RTI if Bennett, Coleman and Co. and The Times Group can also be brought under it. In general I think private corporations (both for-profit and non-profit) need to be scrutinized a great deal more than they currently are. I will support bringing BCCI under the RTI if Sport Pages (which are about entertainment as much as they are about news) and Gossip Pages of newspapers are no longer considered to be “journalism”, in the sense that political current affairs reportage is considered to be journalism.
The charitable view of this line of reasoning is that Kartikeya is annoyed other people — that is, professionals paid to do this kind of work — can’t match his own research. And I completely agree with the sentiment; God knows I have plenty of axes to grind when it comes to the Times. That being said, however, the burden of proof when it comes to information and transparency lies with public bodies that use public funds, not on how private citizens will use the information. This is a basic point, but one that’s often lost even in “advanced” democracies like the United States. As a former reporter here, I can’t tell you how often town clerks would ask me why I asked for public documents, even though the reasoning behind a citizen’s request has no bearing whatsoever on whether or not information should be released.
So, a word of advice to Kartikeya: Critique sports journalism all you want and make sure they get the facts straight. But private corporations don’t have as high a burden as public ones do (I can’t even imagine bringing corporations under RTI, since that would mean business and trade secrets would be open to competitors), and whether or not the BCCI is transparent shouldn’t be dependent on how others act. Also: lay off the gossip pages. I like ’em.