Ranjona Banerji: Not much imagination in the Tendulkar coverage

15 Nov,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Is it going to be all about Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series or the Campa Cola compound? Either way, Mumbai dominates the news this week, making this a rare exception from all the endless political tamasha that we have been subjected to in recent times.

 

Tendulkar’s retirement has been everywhere and it takes a very brave Indian Express to not run with the first day’s play on Page 1 of the Mumbai edition, bar a photograph. The rest of the newspapers knew what people were interested in and went with that. With everyone jumping on to the bandwagon though there is a range of Sachin nostalgia writing to pick your way through from the mundane to the sublime. Ayaz Memon’s piece in Mumbai Mirror on Thursday was filled with delightful nostalgic nuggets, based on his long experience covering cricket and as an editor. Clayton Murzello, sports editor of Mid-Day, showed why he is one of the best repositories of Mumbai’s (and India’s) cricket history today. The Times of India dedicated pages to Tendulkar’s retirement but could surely have expended more effort and dipped further into its formidable 175 year archives. The Hindustan Times was adequate but is often better at sports not called cricket. The Economic Times new sports page is still dismal and needs plenty more work.

 

Cricket writing was once considered an art form but somehow that talent is not showing through enough in the new breed of sports journalists. It does not help that others have jumped on to the bandwagon but not every academic can write like Ramachandra Guha and not every former cricketer can write like Ed Smith. Given that most of the big celebrity names writing on cricket are sponsored and the cash registers can never be silenced, some more effort to nurture in-house writing talent may have good long-term effects.

 

Of course, the Sachin Tendulkar story is not yet over so quite likely we shall see some more during the day. One thought on the Star Sports coverage and commentary: The discussion show on Tendulkar and cricket called Sachiiin Sachiiin is far more interesting and in-depth than the non-stop cliché-ridden jabber in the commentary boxes, particularly the Hindi ones. You feel that Navjot Singh Sidhu now has competition from Kapil Dev in how to never stop to take a breath between inanities. A little birdie tells me that apparently those who tune into Hindi commentary need cricket to be explained to them all the while and abhor silence. Sounds a bit… condescending?

 

**

 

The story of the apartment blocks with illegal floors in the Worli area of Mumbai has not unnaturally been covered by city newspapers. But it was a surprise to see the Campa Cola compound make it to national television on Monday, as the dramatic story of residents fighting to save their homes played out. There was misery, hope, politics and illegality on plenty of levels making for a great spectacle.

 

The next day saw the effect of the media at work. Apparently the Supreme Court judge who had ordered that the residents vacate their homes on November 11 watched the media coverage, was deeply distressed and could not sleep all night. The next morning, he ordered a stay on the demolition of the illegal floors and gave residents till May next year to move out.

 

In between all this were several comments from senior journalists about how because the Campa Cola residents were middle class they got media attention, which slum dwellers don’t get. Undoubtedly there is truth in that remark. But it is also true that the Campa Cola case revealed one more instance of developer-municipality-politician culpability, which affects slum dwellers and the middle class both. Any exposure is therefore not to be sneezed at.

 

And just to push the point further, I have actually read about slum demolition in newspapers and seen it on TV. How far it has made Supreme Court judges lose sleep I do not know. Room for improvement everywhere perhaps.

 

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

 

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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Not much imagination in the Tendulkar coverage”

  1. Guest says:

    Very happy to read that the honorable judge was disturbed enough by the plight of middle class Mumbaikars to be unable to sleep at night. Justice must always be tempered with compassion. Contrast this with the heartless sealing and demolition of commercial establishments in Delhi, with the son of the presiding judge being deeply mixed up with real estate developers. The middle class is no less deserving of sympathy and relief than slum dwellers.

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