Freaking News by Ranjona Banerji: Where’s the fizz gone?

27 Sep,2011

Life is dull, I have to admit, when television is not having hysterics about some issue or the other. And this week has been particularly short on made-for-television news events. I know I’ve grumbled about the neglect of subjects like the civil war in Libya or the collapse of the world economy but even I know that we cannot whip ourselves into a jingoistic frenzy with such sparse material to work on. No anchors foaming at the mouth, no calls for answers and no heartfelt pleas for justice, mercy or anything at all, nothing in fact that makes television news compete with the top general entertainment channels.

So yes, the collapse of the world’s economy did make it to Indian television at last but that’s only after the Sensex fell at the end of last week and investors lost a notional amount that ran into lakhs of crores. By now we are so used to inflation and rising interest rates that no one can drum up even one fleck of hysterical foam at the mouth.

In fact, we seem to be so wrung out and tired by recent events that even some T20 cricket tournament has not filled us with our normal passionate exuberance. We did try to drum up some enthusiasm for that mysterious note that one finance minister wrote to another former finance minister, something to do with the 2G scam, but no one knows enough about it and the people who know aren’t telling.

Then Headlines Today, which is trying to steal the top patriotic channel slot from Times Now, did get quite excited about the current fight between the US and Pakistan but even that didn’t go far. Shoaib Akhtar, the Pakistani cricketer, said something about Sachin Tendulkar in his new book (yes, apparently he can write). But for all the patriotic fervour which we could have shown, the only people who managed to make something of it were some political parties in Maharashtra.

CNN IBN remained steadfast in its coverage of the earthquake in Sikkim and its aftermath while by Monday morning, the floods in Orissa and Bihar were all over television.

Talking about Pakistan, the BBC has a fascinating Hard Talk with Imran Khan, asking some very tough questions as usual and allowing the guest to answer them.


The newspapers, obviously, were in the same boat. They also realised that the world economy was in trouble. They managed to explain something of it, throwing the collapse of Greece into the mix as well. The unfortunate plane crash in Nepal got the front pages. Patriotism is everywhere so the Hindustan Times headlined the number of Indians who had died. Lesser mortals of other nations not so fortunate to be Indian also died.

The weekend saw some newspapers telling us that Paris Hilton, general celeb and heiress of the eponymous hotel chain, was in town. The opinion pages were still obsessed with Narendra Modi and his prime ministerial ambitions and whatever else. Am not sure that anyone else still cares, especially since we are currently in this non-news cycle.

This morning The Times of India came to me bright yellow as if it had been dipped in haldi and this made reading it very difficult.



I can only hope that things pick up as the week moves on.

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One response to “Freaking News by Ranjona Banerji: Where’s the fizz gone?”

  1. Arumeh says:

    Times has come in yellow to prove in letter and spirit the flag bearer product from the group can resemble’yellow’ journalism.

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