Barkha Dutt is one of India’s most well known television journalists. She had an early start in that her mother Prabha Dutt was also a well known journalist and she kind of grew up with news in her veins, identifying political figures from the covers of the ‘Time’ magazine even as early as five years of age. She studied journalism in America and came back to India to work as a television journalist. She joined NDTV at the age of 23 and has been one of the channel’s most prominent faces through the years. She has grown with the channel and with the increase in appetite for 24x7 news channels. She became well known for her work in the Kargil war between India and Pakistan in 1999, during which time her reporting from the frontline grabbed many an eyeball, both within India and outside. NDTV at that time was the only 24x7 English news channel.
She continued to grow in her profession, becoming a much admired journalist. Her reporting during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks however drew a lot of flak. But that was not her biggest test. She was dragged through the coals for her role in the Nira Radia tapes, where she appears to have lobbied for A Raja to be made Telecom Minister in the UPA regime. Her reputation as a journalist was under a cloud for her alleged role in Raja becoming the Telecom Minister and the fact that Raja was also deprived of the ministerial post on account of corruption charges in the 2G scam did not help matters one bit. She did manage to emerge from themes unscathed, but it will forever remain a taint on her journalistic career, always raising suspicions as to what other deal she was brokering that remained hidden from the public eye.
After so many years with the channel, Barkha turns entrepreneur. This does not mean that she is leaving the channel. She will continue to do her show five nights a week for the channel, not as an employee or NDTV Group Editor, but as the channel’s consulting editor. She will also continue to anchor her two shows on NDTV – ‘We the People’ and ‘The Daily Buck Stops Here’. However, she will form her own multimedia content company and policy group. Barkha is not the first journalist to have such an arrangement. Many senior journalists have left the paper or channel that they have worked for only to return to it in a consulting capacity. One example is that of Shekar Gupta - former Indian Express Editor who now appears on television and Indrajit Gupta - a former Forbes India Editor.
Barkha however is the icon for women wishing to take up a career in journalism, so much so that when Bollywood wants to portray a woman journalist as a character in any of the movies, it is Barkha Dutt on whom they fashion the character. Her style is copied right from the dress to the hair style. Here is wishing Barkha similar success in her new role!