Ranjona Banerji: Same old same old on Sachin

11 Oct,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from cricket on Thursday and hardly surprisingly it shook the world and the media. Although the announcement has been anticipated, it was a still a moment of sorrow if not shock. Almost every newspaper led with it and most tried to outdo the other with a catchy headline. The Economic Times said “India will never be the same again”, The Times of India went for “God Bye”, Mid-Day took a bold decision to dedicate the whole paper to the great cricketer, Hindustan Times said, ‘There will never be another you” and The Indian Express went poignantly simple with “The Void”.

 

The articles inside were a mix of rehashes of old comments by former cricketers and old interviews as well as some new writing. Plus all the facts we did and did not know about Tendulkar. (Yes, I did know that he was a big John McEnroe fan as a kid, so there!) The problem is that so much has already been said about Sachin Tendulkar, good, bad, indifferent. However, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s recollections of his first meetings with his idol in TOI were moving. If only TOI had found someone other than the dull and cliché-ridden Boria Majumdar to write its front page piece on Tendulkar. India has a vast collection of excellent cricket writers, some of them within the TOI stables. Why go to an outsider? Why not ask your national sports editor Bobilli Vijay Kumar? This is the easiest way to demoralise your own staff.

 

News channels must have all gone gaga on Tendulkar but I could not watch the same old same old. They have all already had innumerable debates on when will Sachin go, why doesn’t Sachin go, who will make Sachin go, to make any discussions they have from now on seem like a bunch of hypocritical hooey.

 

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This week, MxM editor Pradyuman Maheshwari wrote about communications he had with NDTV’s new ombudsman eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee. It is clear from the exchange that the role of an ombudsman is still muddy as far as India is concerned. Sorabjee’s responses were those of a lawyer rather than someone who had been appointed to act as the viewer or reader’s representative when it comes to grievances against a news outlet. A similar confusion can be observed in the manner in which Markandey Katju treated his earlier days as chairman of the Press Council of India.

 

Much as everybody thinks that they can be a journalist, life as a newsperson is neither that simple nor apparent at face value. That old saying “it’s not rocket science” is deceptive – anything that you don’t know enough about can be as confusing as rocket science to a lay person. So yes, journalism is rocket science to an outsider and it is definitely not the same as law.

 

The Hindu is the only newspaper which has taken the idea of an ombudsman seriously, where complaints against the paper are printed and addressed. The Mumbai edition of Hindustan Times used to have a reader’s editor but not any longer after the person who did it quit.

 

As for NDTV, it is laudable that they have an ombudsman and such a well-respected one at that. However the job of the ombudsman is to protect the viewer from the channel and not the other way around. Also, it would help if the NDTV website told you how to reach the ombudsman. The Complaints Redressal section took me to this:http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/new/Complaint.aspx

 

 

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