Ranjona Banerji: I-Day Blues

16 Aug,2013

By Ranjona Banerji


Has marking Independence Day become a ritualistic exercise for today’s media? Both newspapers and news television showed a remarkable reliance on clichés. Long ago, Sunday Mid-Day’s logo used to be “Expect the Unexpected”. Now with the media in India, it’s more like “expect the expected”. A shout out to Forbes magazine however for its essays on the concept of freedom: Variations on a theme with some intelligent thought.


Meanwhile, Independence Day in the media was consumed by discussion of the speeches of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. This shows how little depth we are now happy with in the media.


Interesting that the deaths of 18 sailors in the fires of the submarine INS Sindhurakshak inspired much less love for “martyrs” than the deaths of five soldiers along the LOC. Was this just media fatigue at maintaining high-pitched jingoism or was it because the sailors were not killed by enemy fire? The Times of India now suggests – in what seems slightly irresponsible journalism – that the fires may not have been accidents or caused by human error. If the “enemy” waltzed once more into Mumbai harbour by the sea and blew up a submarine, then we have far bigger problems on our hands than the pre-election shenanigans of Modi. And we want more than the slivers of suggestions in the TOI story.


As a side note, the use of the word “martyrs” for all armed forces personnel who die is possibly a mis-translation of the word “shaheed”. Both may be similar but they are not the same.




The government is planning to take up the menace of paid news by making amendments to the Press and Registration of Books Act. This is a serious issue which cannot be ignored by the media. There is nothing worse than government interference in the running of the media because it impinges directly on the freedom of expression. However, if the media does not combat paid news, then someone else will do it and that someone else will invariably be the government. Some thought required here but has thought become too expensive a commodity for the media to rely on? http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-08-15/india/41412682_1_paid-news-electronic-media-amendments




CNN-IBN has apparently laid off some 200 people with a total of 500 to go, according to rumours. The TV18 group has already had a little public relations problem with the sacking of senior people in Forbes. NDTV has been “downsizing” and the Outlook Group closed down three magazines which meant at least 100 people out of jobs. Outlook first treated its staff very badly, then some staff went to the labour court and then magically everyone reached an “amicable” solution.


Immediate prospects in the media look bleak as everywhere jobs are frozen and managements are looking at cutting costs. DNA however now has a new editor, CP Surendran and many are looking hopefully in that direction. It remains to be seen whether this newspaper, once second in Mumbai and once able to give market leader Times of India a run for its money, can get back into the race.




I have to confess that I have cut back seriously on my TV time and for three months have not watched those ridiculous prime time “debates”. But I do check in on news channels through the day just to find out what’s happening. I would be interested to know from readers which news channels they trust the most and which they instinctively turn to (both may not be the same).


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator based in Mumbai. She is also Contributing Editor, MxMIndia. She can be reached via Twitter at @ranjona. The views here are her own


Related Stories

  • No Related Stories Found
Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.