Ranjona Banerji: Lack of depth on telly

17 Oct,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

For the last three or four nights, television news has been discussion Arvind Kejriwal’s impact on politics, on politicians and on the high and mighty. The biggest impact however has been on the news and even that has been discussed. However, once again the divide between television and print has been magnified. TV news in India is still unable to bring its ideas to a conclusion or even to search for decisive answers to their questions. Nor are they able to rely on themselves. Watching the discussion of the second US presidential debates on CNN on Wednesday morning, senior TV journalists do not have to depend on newspaper columnists to give them direction or to validate them. They are able to create opinions for themselves. They also appear to have a clearer idea of politics than many of our senior TV anchors.

 

This is a serious issue for the media. Senior print journalists however are almost never as unsure of themselves as TV journalists and cannot and will not sacrifice 18 pages of their 24 page newspaper to one subject, except under exceptional circumstances. If prime time TV discussions are akin to edit pages in a newspaper, then the sheer lack of depth and the small bucket from which topics are chosen is appalling.

 

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In all the discussions about whether Kejriwal uses the media, TV has used the word media very loosely since it has referred only to itself and left out print journalism. Indeed, it is very odd – as Madhu Trehan of newslaundry.com pointed out to Sagorika Ghose on CNNIBN’s Face the Nation – that TV should ask this question of others. The only people qualified to answer why Kejriwal uses news channels so effectively are news channel’s editors. So, why not tell us, how does he do it?

 

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The Times of India has launched a Bengali newspaper ‘Ei Samay’, the first language paper launched by the group in 50 years. The paper promises to be “be intelligent, enlightened and insightful without being inaccessible”. Does this mean the dumbing down of the Bengali readership, TOI style? We’ll have to wait and see. It is interesting to note that The Times of India experimented with dumping the edit page in its Calcutta edition. It did not work.

 

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The marriage of Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor has not taken as much space as I feared it would. Have I jinxed it? Speaking too soon?

 

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