Ranjona Banerji: Everyone on Times Now wants to be an Arnab Goswami

05 Feb,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Editorialising is a strange word. It, in effect, is a bad thing. Yet a newspaper must have editorials and an editorial page, where the newspaper’s stand on issues and considered opinions find a space. It is the core, the heart of a newspaper if you will. But when a reporter shifts away from the facts to deliver a judgment you have the taboo of editorialising. In most newspapers, there is a host of checks of balances, starting from the junior-most sub-editor who can stop a reporter from straying (and still mistakes can get through). But what happens in a TV channel?

 

The short answer is: I don’t know. TV news in India is a beast which operates by a different set of rules. One reads in Caravan that Times Now does not bother to fact check or grammar check or anything check its running news updates which scrawl across the screen in case it misses out on “breaking” news. Can this be true? Empirical evidence suggests that in most news channels in India the common mantra seems to be: run first, check later.

 

The reason for this diatribe is a curious set of running scrolls which I read on Times Now very late on Sunday night. India had lost the Davis Cup tie against Korea 1-4. To anyone who follows tennis, India’s top players and the All India Tennis Association have been locked in a fight for a year now and 11 players refused to play Davis Cup unless their demands were met. In this stand- off, India fielded who they could. Only a miracle could have saved India from loss and that miracle was not forthcoming. No surprises here to anyone who follows tennis or even sport.

 

But Times Now ran a series of what I can call judgments or opinions: Players party after humiliating loss; What is there to celebrate?; Players celebrate Davis Cup loss and so on.

 

Since then, I have unsuccessfully looked for the story to corroborate these news bites. I can myself think of a number of reasons why the players had a party, if indeed they did (as should anyone who has ever needed to drown a few sorrows!). I can understand that everyone on Times Now wants to be Arnab Goswami and thunder on about what the nation wants to know. But if Times Now wants to retain its 9 pm weeknight ascendancy, it needs to curb the enthusiasm of its other staff and allow Goswami’s the exclusive right to be India’s prime conscience-keeper.

 

And editorialising needs to remain what it is: a bad word in the wrong hands.

 

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There is a distressing age-ism in newsrooms where anyone over the age of 45 finds it increasingly difficult to get employment. I understand the current obsession with youth but it is also evident that all newsrooms suffer from lack of experience at various levels. The loss of institutional memory, informed opinion and superior judgment will be felt sooner than later and by that time, the current generation will have grown up on half-baked knowledge and the younger workforce will have lost out on the basics. This will be sad but unfortunately seems inevitable.

 

**

 

Many serious media commentators are disturbed by the lack of social diversity in newsrooms and are blaming this for the outright casteist and illiberal attitudes of media outlets in general. Any views on this?

 

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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Everyone on Times Now wants to be an Arnab Goswami”

  1. kaustubh kulkarni says:

    lack of social diversity in media rooms: when media houses want to pick freshers only from asian college of journalism and IIMC Delhi or some foreign universities, we cannot expect diverse cultures in newsrooms…

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