Anil Thakraney: Cut the Anna crusade

16 Dec,2011

By Anil Thakraney


It is fashionable to credit the social media for Team Anna’s stupendous run. They have managed to hilao the government big-time, and it is often said their oxygen is the support provided by tweeters and facebookers. I totally disagree.


The real fuel for Anna’s campaign comes from the television media. It is they who, in their childlike enthusiasm, have converted the saint from Ralegaon Siddhi into a god-like cult figure. And quite frankly, I am not surprised. It’s our TV media’s belief that any story that generates ratings must be given liberal play, even if it demolishes every tenet of good journalism. From no angle can you justify the role played by the assorted news channels as crusaders and poster boys for Team Anna. When the social media does that, it becomes understandable. Because the virtual world consists of individuals fed up of corruption… dudes who don’t really comprehend the complexities of the Lokpal bill, and are basically venting steam. That’s fine. But for professional journalists to become recruitment agents for Anna is simply an appalling situation.


Anyway, what’s done is done. Team Anna is threatening Hunger Strike Part 2, this time from the ‘salubrious’ Mumbai. At least this time around the news channels must respect the principles of journalism and desist from going over-the-top on the coverage. Because it’s very clear by now that, drunk on the TV media’s fan-like support, members of the team have become arrogant and Dubya-like in their attitude. The ‘my way or the highway’ deal. How healthy is that approach for democracy, we all know quite well.


Bottom-line: Let Team Anna fight its own battles. Report the story, like any other story, and no more. There are other interesting ways to get good ratings. Try village horror stories. At least they don’t threaten Indian democracy.




PS: Wieden + Kennedy’s London office has found a charming way to wish you this season. The agency has set up a window outside their office, from where passers-by can take part in the celebrations. Lovely idea.



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