Anna’s RSS links and TV’s outrage

27 Dec,2011

By Ranjona Banerji


As was expected, the India-Australia Boxing Day Test match has started dominating TV news bulletins. This is not to suggest that Anna Hazare and the anti-corruption movement will be replaced by cricket – shame on me for even hinting at that – but it does mean that TV producers will have to do some juggling.


However there is a chance that if anything controversial happens on the field, well… This is after all an India-Australia series and judging from a quick peek that I had this morning, the crowds are in…


Newspapers, of course, do not have the same problems. They have the space and the wisdom gained through reflection and time to pick and choose. Cricket will find its place, as will Hazare and a whole lot of other stuff.


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I was fascinated to see that NewsX chose to broadcast Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve live, from various services across India. Equally, to watch the Queen of England’s Christmas message on Al-Jazeera. This could be addressing niche audiences or a refusal to patronise viewers by segmenting them into tight demographic categories as determined by a marketing department.


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Nai Duniya carried a story this weekend about Anna Hazare’s links to the RSS with proof of his association with Nanaji Deshmukh and a joint collaboration they did on village affairs. This, naturally enough, outraged TV anchors. Even the NewsX anchor – the channel is affiliated to the newspaper – found that he had to practically interrogate the editor of Nai Duniya on this ‘sacrilegious’ story. Like so many print journalists, the editor was unrepentant and unfazed. His story was not based on allegation but on fact.


Very oddly, after that – and including in Monday’s papers – the story was presented as a Congress allegation on Hazare and was sourced to a tweet by Hazare-baiter Digvijay Singh.


Is this journalistic laziness or a reluctance to credit Nai Duniya? After all, whoever looked for Singh’s tweet could just have easily have Googled Nai Duniya!


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