Ranjona Banerji: Time for the media to jump left, right or centre

17 Sep,2013

By Ranjona Banerji


The media, it seems, needs a few lessons in school civics. For instance, India is a not a presidential form of democracy, we are a Parliamentary democracy. We do not have a face-off between opposing presidential candidates but between opposing political parties. Nor are we a two-party democracy but instead a multi-million party democracy. By getting all these facts mixed up, we only end up confusing the reader and the viewer who are now waiting for Barack Obama and Mick Romney to start fighting each other in town halls with a TV anchor as a referee. TV may love to do this, but it has not happened yet. Until it does, time to go back to the textbooks. Might be worthwhile to also look up Constitutional amendments to see what is required to change the Indian system to suit all of TV news and one political party.


It might also be necessary for the Indian media to try and understand that a party choosing a person as a prime leader into the next elections is not quite the same as being destined for sainthood or divinity. Nor is it (or should be) some excuse for monarchy. Therefore Narendra Modi was neither anointed nor “coronated” — which is also bad English, since the more acceptable word would be “crowned” – as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. I have said this before in these columns but it is worth repeating since this nonsensical twisting of language is only going to continue.




Is the Indian media going to go the way of media elsewhere in the world and be divided into right and left wing? So far, we have been a sort of fuzzy centrist collective, with a few extreme right or left wing elements. The last time a divide showed up was during LK Advani’s rath yatra and the build up to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. There are clear indications of this happening again. This division is not necessarily a bad thing since it would give readers and viewers a clear indication of what each media house stood for.


Right now, The Times of India has confused me the most, since it is impossible to understand what it is up to. Is it left or right or both or all or opportunistically backing the new horse on the block? Could anyone make sense of the second edit in Tuesday’s paper on Narendra Modi, iron and irony? http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/opinion/edit-page/NaMos-latest-speech-shows-terrific-irony-in-more-senses-than-one/articleshow/22634970.cms


CNNIBN appears to have made a shift from centre to right. This has even percolated down to its very good satirical show, The Week That Wasn’t which makes both intelligent and slapstick fun out of all political parties but somehow fights shy of attacking the BJP. I’m going to try and start a social media conversation with them on this, so may have more to report later.


Headlines Today, which I always pegged as being right, seems to be shifting centre-wards. At any rate, its “So Sorry” cartoon segment takes wonderful pot shots at everyone.




I have to end with The Times of India once more. Today’s front page in Mumbai led with racist slurs on social media about a girl of Indian origin winning the Miss America beauty pageant. Just below that was an article about 12 people being shot dead in an attack on a naval building in Washington DC – both USA stories, but apparently anything at all affecting non resident Indians is more important than death or a possible terrorist attack.


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