Ranjona Banerji: Arnab – the mascot for the new feminist movement?

31 Dec,2012

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The protests and the aftermath of the Delhi gangrape continued to be top focus for television news and for some extent, newspapers as well. This included some amount of “soul-searching” on the media’s responses to the events as they unfolded, especially on Rajdeep Sardesai’s CNN-IBN. I found it most intriguing that on Sunday night, he included TV news in the category of “creative media”. Is that a Freudian slip or perhaps just an honest appraisal of the way TV news channels see themselves? Even if print journalists are sometimes accused of embroidering stories I cannot imagine a senior newspaper person admitted to “creativity”. Something of a bad word in my day but then that was a while ago.

 

However, Sardesai did try to have a meaningful discussion on his channel’s “agenda for change” theme. Since there were no representatives from political parties, the discussion did not turn into a melee. CNN-IBN is sometimes more professional in the way it covers news than its competitors but it also seems afraid to take on a subject head on.

 

Headlines Today continued with its somewhat breathless coverage, looking to create excitement and manufacture rage. Sometimes it is spot on and sometimes it remembers that is started as “smart news for smart people”. It can however be commended for the exposure it gave to the Shambhavi Saxena story – how Twitter was used to expose police arrogance.

 

NDTV is a sort of schizophrenic channel trying to be sober and grown up sometimes and emotionally charged at others – especially when Barkha Dutt shows up. She was not on ‘We the People’ for some reason although she appeared to have been on Twitter in the weekend, judging from the number of retweets.

 

Arnab Goswami wins hands down again for his reading of the pulse of the people and his championing of women’s rights. On Saturday – he had to make up for being absent on some key days – he once again took down the men on the channel who seemed to be sexist or who tried to obfuscate the issue with some political waffle. At this rate, he could be made the mascot of the new feminist movement which is emerging.

 

**

 

The Hindu took on the government and patriarchy in a front page edit on Sunday. Newspapers have taken this post-rape protest far more seriously than they took the Anna Hazare-Arvind Kejriwal led anti-corruption movement and with good reason. This protest may be smaller in numbers on the ground but it is about the repression of and violence to half of India’s population.

 

All the columns in the Sunday Times – Swapan Dasgupta, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, MJ Akbar – took different looks at the protests but all had very telling insights. Sidharth Bhatia in Outlook examines at the year of protests and how and why they fell apart. Ayaz Memon in the Mumbai edition of Monday’s Hindustan Times reflected on how this was not a year to be proud of. Indeed.

 

**

 

Two things I could not understand. One is the need to give the Delhi gangrape victim a series of invented names, monickers, tags: Amanat, Damini, Nirbhaya and Braveheart, India’s Daughter and so on. It all sounds contrived, like an attempt to draw maximum tear value out of her death. The profusion of names and labels also confuses people and will lead to the victim herself being forgotten.

 

The other is the self-congratulation by TV new channels on not showing the girl’s funeral. Please.

 

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