Ranjona Banerji: Rumours UnLtd on news channel top jobs

25 Apr,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


The rumour mills within the media are running as fast as those in the political sphere. Just about everyone is playing musical chairs or is on the merry-go-round. Changes at the top are forecast at CNN-IBN, Times Now, NDTV, Indian Express, India Today… Those of you who are feeling left out are free to start your own rumours. Remember however to add a dash of feared political reprisal because of your leanings, the dangers or joys of corporate interference and the ability to interact with sundry India experts in foreign universities in order to give your rumour some believability. The last only applies to print journalists and editors. TV has its own rules about where it finds experts. Usually, it is print journalists.


I have to confess some severe dereliction of duty. The decibel levels surrounding this election have steered me far away from TV news. However, I watched Times Now the other night after ages. The panel included Rahul Narvekar, once of the Shiv Sena but now with the Nationalist Congress Party. Before the discussion on Ramdas Kadam’s remarks on how Muslims would be treated if Narendra Modi comes to power could begin, there was a little light-hearted studio banter. Arnab Goswami mentioned Narvekar’s shift to the NCP. The person from the National Conference said Narvekar could join the NC anytime. Goswami said to Narvekar, See you are getting job offers. Narvekar said, Why Arnab I believe you are also getting job offers. Goswami simpered. Yes, dear reader, I still watched this programme for another 15 minutes.




I also watched Nidhi Razdan’s Right, Left and Centre on the hullaballoo over the principal of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, writing a mail to students telling them to “choose wisely” when they voted. The principal did not mention any names but since he stated that the Gujarat model was not all that it was touted to be, the inference was that he was asking his students not to vote for the BJP. Since he talked about the Food Security Bill, he was pushing students towards the Congress was the other inference. In today’s climate, even heavy breathing down an old-fashioned telephone line can start a forest fire. And so we had one.


True confession: I was invited to be on the show but could not make it. But veteran journalist Anil Dharker and Nandini Sardesai, former head of department of Sociology at St Xavier’s put up a fine defence of the institution while Kiran Bedi and Gurcharan Das blustered through the various merits of the Gujarat model. Das interestingly seemed to think the St Xavier’s principal was against job development.


On Twitter meanwhile, people were struggling with the difference between principal and principle.




For a few weeks now, former colleague Govind Ethiraj has been running a serious on Google hangouts called India Hangouts where he, Ayaz Memon and guests discuss election-related news as well as other issues of the day. I joined one yesterday as a guest, talking about Mumbai’s low voting percentages. Questions are taken on Twitter. It’s a half-hour show and there is little digression from the issue at hand. An interesting experience and an alternative to TV debates.


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