Ranjona Banerji: Journalists get it right while TV News muddles it up

28 Nov,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


The International Committee for the Red Cross and the Press Institute of India held their annual media awards in New Delhi this week. I was honoured to be part of the jury, together with Pamela Philipose and Sreekumar Varma. The usual focus is humanitarian journalism but this year the theme was “Reporting on the fate of the victims of armed violence”. A Best Photographer Award was also added this year to the best reporter award.


Reading through the entries was a heart-warming experience not just because of the stories of the victims but also because of the tremendous effort put in by the journalists concerned. These were stories which required commitment from editors and the management if they are to be even remotely successful. There is a lesson somewhere here for the mainstream print media. The only two major newspapers which featured on the winning list are the Telegraph for Sumir Karmakar’s piece on the terror victims of Karbi Anlong and Manob Chowdhury’s photographs in the Hindu on landmine victims in Jharkhand. The other winners were Sohini Chattopadhyaya on Rohingya Muslims living in camps for Open magazine, Lakshmi Subramanian’s report on Tamils in Sri Lanka for The Week, Parvez Majeed’s feature on civil service aspirants and young IAS officers in Jammu & Kashmir for Sahara and Pattabi Raman’s photofeature on Tamils in Sri Lanka for Fountain Ink.


India’s major newspapers and magazines hardly featured in the entries. Most were from local newspapers. This is a matter of great shame. It is remarkable and encouraging that there are media houses which are willing to invest in good stories and in newsgathering but it is much worse that there are so many which are not. We are destroying our own future by concentrating on the short term, on the here and now, on personality politics and on a circus in which we are not just instigators but also stakeholders.


More on the event here:





I spent half of Thursday in transit. So when I got to a television in the evening, I was very keen to know what the Supreme Court had said about the BCCI and N Srinivasan. What a colossal mistake!


Because television news as we know is not about the news at all but about the reactions after the news. And if you do not know what the news itself is, well, too bad. So Times Now was having hysterics while the images were of Srinivasan entering his house and refusing to comment. After I watched this footage of Srnivasan entering his house and refusing to comment at least 15 times, I finally understood it. N Srinivasan had entered his house and refused to comment. That there were some nice potted plants and sculptures outside Srinivasan’s front door is the most that I gleaned from that footage. Then Times Now decided to show and reshow and reshow some interview with Srinivasan from 2013. This is a particular absurd TV tactic. They won’t give you details of the news as it happened three hours ago. But they’ll play some dumb tape from one year ago especially if it features their star anchor or editor or whatever.


So on to the other channels. The anchor on CNN-IBN was having an apoplectic fit that Srinivasan had not been sent to the gallows yet, IPL had not been banned, Chennai SuperKings was not disbanded, MS Dhoni was not weeping in the studio corner. None of the guests could console the anchor.


NewsX was also angry and ran plenty of hashtags like “#BCCIstripped”, but of course, no details of how and when. They ran the funniest interview with Justice Mudgul on whose report the Supreme Court has set much trust apparently. Mudgul would not answer any questions about the case which did not stop the reporter from asking the same question in 9000 different ways.


NDTV had Shaina NC on and she was not talking about the BCCI and Srinivasan so I lost interest.


And I still found out nothing. Did I say nasty things about newspapers somewhere in this piece? I take it back.


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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Journalists get it right while TV News muddles it up”

  1. Guest says:

    Would still place one’s faith in print, 90%, the channels, 10%, mainly for their advantage of sheer immediacy.