Ranjona Banerji: Party reps also to blame for News TV

29 Jan,2013

By Ranjona Banerji


True confession: I have avoided watching television news for the past week. The result: grey hair count has come down, wrinkles have reduced and I sleep better at night. Well, all right, that’s the kind of hyperbole I normally accuse TV anchors of, but still. It has been some kind of an improvement on my life. On Monday night, I decided to try again. I got Karan Thapar and guests discussing Ashis Nandy and his “controversial” statement on caste and corruption on CNN-IBN. I got Arnab Goswami also discussing this controversial statement on Times Now and then I got Rajdeep Sardesai also discussing this on CNN-IBN. There was something else on Headlines Today by which time I was so confused by so many of the same people saying the same or different things on so many channels that I gave up.


The problem is not just the anchors, it’s also their guests. The BJP people always look like they suffer from severe dyspepsia and 10 bottles of Digene have not helped. The Congress people look like they have advanced cases of extreme arrogance and are too superior to even be part of a discussion. The BSP people look puzzled that they’re actually there (it’s usually the same person, I admit). The SP person is unsure whether this TV is a good invention or not. The Shiv Sena chap is always smiling except when he has to speak – then, he’s angry. Most of them are lawyers, which makes you wonder… None of them has ever been taught that it is not polite to interrupt and shout all the time when someone else is talking. This makes you wonder only if you have spent all of the 63 years since we got that Constitution under a giant boulder.


Rarely, has anything been achieved by these debates. The only person who made sense through the whole Nandy fight was Yogendra Yadav. I suppose though he is now a politician too, since he’s part of the Aam Aadmi Party and will soon get his own look for TV debates. Sigh.




The best part of the television I did watch last week was Kunal Vijaykar playing a desolate Nitin Gadkari on The Week That Wasn’t. A fine piece of acting! Also, a fascinating discussion on CNN about “catfishing” – people who get fooled into online relationships with invented online personas.




Meanwhile, kudos to Mid-Day for its story on vegetables grown in gutters in Mumbai and to Hindustan Times for its coverage of the Jaipur Literary Festival, minus too much aw-ing and ah-ing. The Times of India had a round up piece on the festival with two bylines but read like a PR press release.




Having ripped into ESPN-Star last week over coverage of the Australian Open, a slight scheduling course correction was visible and the final was telecast on EPSN despite the last ODI between England and India and the Ranji final being on the same day. Indian tennis fans are grateful and would be even happier if we weren’t taken for granted so easily in the future… Ah well.


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