Of course journos suffer for their mistakes!

30 Nov,2011

By Ranjona Banerji


In case Press Council chairman Markandey Katju believes that journalists don’t suffer enough for their mistakes, he can perhaps get some satisfaction from the arrest of senior journalist Gurbir Singh in Mumbai on Tuesday night. Singh was arrested for ignoring a court summons in a “rasta roko” (street protest?) case which dates back 11 years. As a result, a non-bailable warrant was issued against him.


Without commenting on this particular case, several journalists have cases like this against them and litigants sometimes file them all over India mainly as a form of harassment. The Indian legal system being what it is, the cases drag over years and when the journalist concerned will most likely have a changed a few jobs by then, the annoyance increases. The upshot for Shri Katju: The legal system has its own ways of torturing people.




I was quite unpleasantly surprised to see a half page feature in the Mumbai edition of The Times of India dedicated to the wonders of probiotics. I looked carefully to see if the page was sponsored but could find no such legend. There was a signed piece by a doctor about how probiotics were essential for a number of reasons and a corroborating article. There was not one single word about contraindications – and there is no substance on earth which does not have side effects. Since probiotics can be dangerous for diabetics – of which India has a substantial number – one would have expected a soupcon of caution from both the doctor and the newspaper.




Not surprisingly, FDI in retail has been the big subject in the news (even I succumbed, I admit, in my column for Mid-Day), but while newspapers gave us multiple opinions and pros and cons, one yearns for an intelligent discussion on television which does not descend into shouting, blaming and general hysterics.


Contrast this to the discussions on the just-held elections in Egypt – surely an emotive subject – on Al Jazeera where guests had their say, disagreed or agreed and left un-bloodied.




One of Indian television’s most popular guests is Suhel Seth. He is known for his emphatic opinions on just about every subject and is as a result a love-him-or-hate-him chap. Seth has just written a sort of self-help book on how to get ahead in life. Those who both love and hate him must read a biting, caustic and very intelligent review of the book by Mihir Sharma for Caravan magazine.


The Twitter world is full of the review, reactions to it and Seth’s own reactions. Highly entertaining.


Ranjona Banerji is a Mumbai-based journalist and former editor. She is Contributing Editor, MxMIndia

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