Ranjona Banerji: When journalism pretends to not be tabloidy

28 Mar,2014

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The Supreme Court’s scathing observations on the running of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, on the BCCI president N Srinivasan, on the Indian Premier League and on the general state of cricket have more or less ousted politics from headline news for at least one night and one day. Supreme Court advocate Harish Salve’s criticism of MS Dhoni’s deposition before Justice Mudgul meant that the India captain was also under scrutiny.

 

NewsX had a debate on Thursday night with an extraordinary proposition: that Dhoni should be “barred” from Indian cricket. Not all the guests agreed with host Rahul Shivshankar which is hardly surprising. Once more, we see how journalists – I use the term loosely to include TV anchors – are unable to distinguish between allegations and proof and deliberately try to create sensations instead of reporting or commenting on the news. Nothing wrong with tabloid journalism: the problem is when you pretend not to be a tabloid or a TV equivalent of one.

 

Dhoni of course has gone from being a media darling to the equivalent of a major demon after some losses by India in the field. Now he is being accused of corruption of the highest order though the actual suspicion is not of the highest order. This is how reputations are destroyed based on whispers and journalists need to understand this better.

 

It is no one’s case that journalists should not go after someone because they are popular or successful. But even journalists have to work on some kind of proof. It would help if all the news channels which are on this demonisation course would do some investigations of their own. Of course, it is another matter that many journalists do not know the difference between a judicial probe and a court of law or between an allegation and evidence and between an observation and a verdict. And if I might add in a non-related political aside, that so many actually believe that “clean chit” is some legal provision in the Indian Penal Code.

 

The other tragedy as far as the media is concerned is that few of these arguments being made against cricket, the BCCI and the IPL are new. So if there are to be debated again and again, it would help to get some new names on their panels so that we can hear some fresh points of view. Otherwise, we might as well be on perpetual rewind.

 

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The rest of the media’s time is spent trying to figure out whether Narendra Modi will be India’s next prime minister or not. The fact that no one knows except the Indian voter is no deterrent. Instead, the media has decided to do the BJP’s work for it. Please note I am not ascribing any allegations here but only pointing out that some journalists have sort of forgotten if they ever knew what their job is.

 

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Having said that, The Indian Express has a very readable story on how the Aam Aadmi Party’s journalist-candidates are using their media experience. http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/from-reporting-news-to-being-the-news/

 

Have to also thank Indian Express for explaining to readers the back story of Aditya Verma, the Cricket Association of Bihar man who filed the PIL that started the whole process against the BCCI. http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/little-known-aditya-verma-and-his-powerful-backers/

 

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Indeed, if you read the sports pages of all the newspapers you get an excellent idea about what’s happening in the BCCI. One alone will not do.

 

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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: When journalism pretends to not be tabloidy”

  1. Guest says:

    Augean stables may sound tabloidy, but few can doubt that a little fresh air blowing through the cigar filled rooms of the BCCI would clear up the lungs of Indian cricket.

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