Why benighted? Because I know of people in the media who:
* use other journalists' writing, with or without massaging it slightly, and pass it off as their own.
* use other journalists' ideas in their writing without a qualm, and certainly without attribution.
* watch TV during a breaking news story, then write up a "first-person" account of the story.
* write about issues -- like the demolition of slums, for instance -- without once visiting the places where those issues play out.
* when asked by readers to clarify something they have said, angrily accuse the readers of being unable to read properly.
There's more, yes, including things I've done that I'm not proud of. (OK, none of the above).
Not only have the things I listed happened without much of a murmur, there have been plenty of others who have defended this behaviour. Not only that. Far from being punished, some of this behaviour has actually propelled people to stellar heights.
So I wonder, why are we so outraged by the Radia conversations?
Postscript 11pm Nov 30: I just watched part of the discussion on NDTV where Barkha Dutt was questioned by four journalists about what has happened. I think she made a strong case to say that yes, it was at best an error in judgement to have spoken to Nira Radia, but no, by no means was it corruption. So while I won't change the sentence above that mentions the word "ethics" -- there are ethical issues there too -- I will say this: I believe her.
I believe she demonstrated during this discussion a degree of integrity that few journalists achieve -- certainly none of those I alluded to in the bullets above.
And I think too that there's a case to be made for questioning the propriety of publishing material without asking the people involved for their explanations/reactions.