Ranjona Banerji: A funeral for Indian journalism?

28 Oct,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


You can laugh or cry. The capital’s media went into an absolute tizzy last week when it heard that the prime minister was actually going to meet journalists. All their collective dreams had come true. The only problem as it turned out was that this was not a Meet the Press And Answer Questions so much as a Listen to A Lecture And Take Selfies sort of “Diwali Milan” morning.


The invitation could have been a dead giveaway if anyone had bothered to read it. It said the “hero” of the BJP’s victory had agreed to “grace” the venue (BJP headquarters in Delhi) with his “stunning and glorious” presence. The upshot was that Narendra Modi gave the media a little lecture on his early memories of the room they were meeting in, his Clean India Mission, thanked the media for supporting it and for turning their pens into brooms. A nice conceit but a few decades out of date – pens are rarely seen anywhere these days especially not in newsrooms.


Lots of “selfies” were put up on social media by journalists thus proving that many of them saw the PM like a star rather than a politician and it presumably took them a few days to rub the stardust out of their eyes. How to trust people who allow the wool to be pulled over their eyes so easily is another question.


Two slightly less gushing reports/views on this meeting are here:




I am tempted to hold a funeral for Indian journalism right now but have been advised to wait for a bit…




Diwali also brought much joy into the lives of gossip followers on twitter. A number of handles sprouted, most with the word “Luytens” in them, all of which claimed to have the latest political and media gossip from the centre of power in Delhi. Soon, there was speculation about the handles themselves. Who ran them? Who was right wing and who was left wing? Who was a journalist and who was a politician? Were PR people involved? Lutyens spice, Lutyens masala, Journalists Spice, BJP spice, Real Lutyens


Next, the parody accounts of the gossip accounts: Boring Lutyens Gossip.


And you can even follow a handle named for the architect Edward Lutyens who designed the centre of New Delhi (call me Ned says his profile).


Scroll.in reported on the phenomenon: http://scroll.in/article/685245/A-rash-of-spicy-gossip-handles-about-Lutyens-Delhi-sets-Twitter-sizzling

And a diary item in Mumbai Mirror says that the BJP’s IT cell is looking into all these Lutyens twitter accounts which sounds both ominous in a big brother kind of way and a bit funny in a how desperate can a government get kind of way (link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/columns/mumbai-001/Down-memory-lane/articleshow/44952840.cms).




Sad little trolls continue with their “if you don’t like the BJP and Modi you have been paid by the Congress line” attacks on journalists. I use the word “attack” very loosely because given the way the Congress party’s fortunes are falling I doubt very much it is paying anyone to do anything. Even the trolls sound a little unsure…




Without Comment:

CNN-IBN shows the inauguration of the refurbished-by-Reliance Harkisondas Hospital in Mumbai live. And once we laughed at Doordarshan for this sort of thing.


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5 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: A funeral for Indian journalism?”

  1. Shantanu says:


  2. Shantanu says:

    bang on..the watchdog as become PM’s lapdog..

  3. Nikhil says:

    that line should read journalism died…

  4. Nikhil says:

    You are an absolute loser….I think journalism the day when people like you entered the profession. So like the PM’s comment is a few decades out of date (I didnt know they stopped using pens in newsrooms 30 years back) so is the funeral

  5. Anonymous says:

    yes yes the ‘question & answer’ session with PM was missing. With such a session the media would have made it a ‘big occasion’ and their commercial interests would have been served better.Now ‘sources Raj’ will flourish.Every one can run riot with ‘our sources’.