Ranjona Banerji: After 100 days, I have fun dissecting what I see on TV

01 Feb,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Turning 100 is always auspicious and MxMIndia hits a well-deserved century today – the first of course, not yet the 100th 100th.


In the beginning, I have to confess, I cursed MxMIndia for forcing me to watch TV news. Newspapers I can devour, but watching the hysteria which passes for debate every night on TV was trauma I could do without.


After 100 days, I can’t really say I love it yet but I do have lots of fun dissecting what I see every morning. And I’ve gained a real appreciation for the tough lives of our TV anchors. Really. It’s not easy, sort of manufacturing sensation out of fairly ordinary news events. And yet, night after night they endeavour and yell away, full of outrage and nation-building or saving vigour.


I thought working consecutive night shifts on a news desk was a tough job but this must be absolutely mind-numbingly exhausting. On the other hand, maybe that explains a lot – the shallowness, the lack of depth or understanding, the shrillness, the vacuous questions…


Yet strangely, sometimes the hosts are completely overshadowed by their guests who scream, interrupt and insult each other with a total disregard for good manners or good sense. I’m guessing they watch a lot of the Jerry Springer shows in their spare time.


Often to escape, I watch Hard Talk or Anderson Cooper to calm myself down a bit but then sometimes I catch Piers Morgan in passing and then I take 24 hours to recover. That’s when I’m a little kinder to Indian news anchors the next day.


* * *


The biggest thanks for the last 100 days must go to Anna Hazare and his Merry Men and One Woman. They managed to occupy all the news time available as they entangled us in their coils. It was fascinating to watch how TV was first all chuffed at saving the nation from corruption. And then, one by one, the questions started – CNNIBN, NDTV, NewsX, Headlines Today and the last to keep the flag flying, Times Now.


By the time the circus reached Mumbai and tried set up tent at the MMRDA grounds at Bandra-Kurla, the party for Hazare & Co was over. And sadly so was it for TV-created hysteria.


I’m waiting now to see what the next 100 days will bring. Any ideas?


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