Ranjona Banerji: The Nation wants to know: should we have TV anchors, why should we have TV anchors?

22 Jan,2013

By Ranjona Banerji


The TV anchor in India is now looking to compete with astrologers. Would not call them soothsayers or forecasters – because those words imply wisdom – but certainly they are always trying to look into the future to predict various outcomes that may suit their channels. The news is not always about the news on TV. It is about looking into your little crystal ball and trying to understand what the news means. Sometimes it’s about asking other people what the news means.


Should Pakistan apologise to India? Why won’t Pakistan apologise to India? Why doesn’t India do more against Pakistan? Should Sushil Kumar Shinde apologise to the RSS? And the biggest question of all, how will Rahul Gandhi run the Congress, will Rahul Gandhi run the Congress, should Rahul Gandhi run the Congress, why should Rahul Gandhi run the Congress, if he does, what will he do, if he doesn’t what will he do…


There is little sense that the TV anchors have any clue what the answers to these questions are: perhaps I am being insulting to astrologers. TV anchors just look into the future and ask questions. Sometimes the guests they invite to their studios try to answer these questions but they cannot always manage because of the loud noises, constant chatter and the usual atmospheric disturbances.


So Arnab Goswami has a regular fit over Rahul Gandhi’s ascendancy speech and all the questions he can generate over it, Karan Thapar answers his own questions as sociologist Dipankar Gupta informs him and Sidharth Vardarajan of the Hindu thinks we should wait and see what Rahul Gandhi does.


Varadarajan is making an impossible suggestion as far as television in India is concerned. We just cannot wait. We must have the answers now. The nation wants to know.
The nation in the meantime may be grappling with any number of problems other than the exact nature of Rahul Gandhi’s dreams and nightmares. For that, you have to read a newspaper, any newspaper. In case you are interested in Rahul Gandhi, here are three experts (two are ex-colleagues I confess) for you.

Sidharth Bhatia in Hindustan Times: http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/ColumnsOthers/A-work-in-progress/Article1-997828.aspx

Arati Jerath in The Times of India: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/paint-it-black/entry/long_road_ahead

And Suhas Palshukar in The Indian Express: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/late-to-the-party/1062886/


These are more analysis and informed opinion than reading auras and grabbing at straws in the wind so be warned in advance. That’s not a prediction, it’s just an advisory!




Mumbai’s newspapers continue to be a depressing litany of crimes against women and police insensitivity. One has to commend the media for continuing with this story that could so easily get lost in the quick turnover of news. Instead we see reporters and editors continuing with their focus on women and how they are treated in India. Kudos.




Last week, I attended a workshop, organised by Population First (which also runs the Laadli Media Awards for gender sensitivity and IPAS) on how pre-birth gender selection practices are affecting regular abortions in India and the consequent ill-effects on women’s reproductive rights and health. NGOs and activists across the board were extremely appreciative of the support they had got from the media when it came to the horrors of gender selection. The battle, they said, could not have been fought without the media. Bouquets therefore once again for the media and a well-deserved pat on the back.


The writer is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Contributing Editor, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are her own


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