Ranjona Banerji: Don’t take readers for granted

12 Oct,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Amitabh Bachchan’s 70th birthday was brought in with great excitement but I really don’t know what happened to it after that. TV greats did interviews with the super-great or maybe he’s now meta-great? And there was a party, I was told, with breathless excitement. And this Friday morning, I see a photograph of the meta-great man touching Kokilaben Ambani’s feet in the Economic Times.

 

Make of that what you will.

 

Next to that telling photograph is a charming piece on the “Kejriwal” by Vikram Doctor. This egg-cheese-chillies-bread combo is a Bombay special breakfast treat or any time snack. Doctor tells us how it came about, who makes it best and why it isn’t related to the RTI activist turned politician.

 

**

 

I could not make head or tail of visit of the UK high commissioner to Gujarat. I lived in Gujarat for some years, with The Times of India, in the Modi era itself and met both the UK and US envoys, based in Delhi and Mumbai. This was after the riots. Modi also visited the UK in that time. The impression I got from reading the Times of India and Hindustan Times was that Modi was off to the UK again and the supposed ban on his entry and all had been forgiven for the riots. I read in the Indian Express that the UK government was keen to bolster business ties with India – which includes Gujarat of course – and also get justice for the three British nationals killed in the riots.

 

When newspapers decided that everyone has watched television all day and therefore does not need to read the news but only the reaction to the news – as TOI and HT did with this story – they do the reader a great disservice. When I started out in journalism eight million years ago we were repeatedly told what we cannot take our readers for granted and therefore had to be lucid and informative. It was a good lesson especially for youthful exuberance which can be too clever by half.

 

**

 

This is a mere observation. But doesn’t it look like cricketer Virat Kohli is the latest victim of the media’s “amplify and then crucify” policy? He is being built up for greatness – which he may well be on his way to achieving – but a burden of expectation is also being dumped on him. The next slip – inevitable in all humans – and the nails will be sharpened and the cross will be hammered together. I am not sure that this is necessarily the best trend to ape from the west. How about objective appreciation and criticism? Naah, I’m clearly knocking on the doors of idealism.

 

**

 

The truth is that I haven’t watched even a tiny smidgeon of TV news all Thursday. It was an enlivening experience: My blood pressure is low and my tolerance quotient is high!

 

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