Ranjona Banerji: News TV in a permanent state of end-of-the-world-ness

23 Dec,2014

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Election results day today and I’m assuming that every news channel in India is in a state of high excitement. Almost as excited perhaps as yahoo.in was when Salman Khan’s sister got married.

 

This has been the story of the year and the story of every year as far as 24 hour news television is concerned: A permanent state of end-of-the-world-ness, no matter what’s happening. It could be Narendra Modi fans dancing in New York, it could be women beating up men in a bus in Haryana, it could be a minister who smiled at someone he or she shouldn’t have. The details are immaterial. The positioning and the hype have to be the same.

 

Lack of discretion is one way of looking at it. Providing equal opportunities to all news events is another. And this is an ideal time to segue into what really was the story of 2014: the (so far) undying love (admiration, obsession, devotion) to India’s now not so new prime minister Narendra Modi. As ever Arnab Goswami of Times Now set off the trend with his fawning interview of the then PM aspirant. Since then, we have seen much of the media in thrall and awe of the former Gujarat chief minister and now leader of the free world. O, isn’t he? Well, he might well be soon, given his enormous popularity in all foreign lands. Or so the media would have us believe.

 

Some columnists in print though would rival TV’s fawning fandom. Having told us that Modi was the next best thing for India after the invention of the wheel (invented in ancient India, obviously), now they have found ways to blame the following for all the things Modi has not done yet: bureaucrats, Nehru, the Congress, the Opposition, RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, “fringe elements” in the Sangh Parivar, non-fringe elements like the RSS, Smriti Irani, the weather, the world economy and the Planet Uranus. Okay. I made up the last one but it’s only a matter of time. One day, they will have us believe, when Modi has conquered all these dragons, the world will change for the better.

 

Yeah.

 

Of course the evil Congi Marxist Macaulayist Missionary Muslim anti-Hindu Wicked sections of the media carried on with their anti-Modi propaganda. This is despite all the best efforts of some of India’s best TV anchors. Some people will never learn.

 

**

 

The biggest news casualty of 2014 has been cricket. There was a time when every small doing on the cricket field and the BCCI’s backyard would overshadow everything else as far as the media is concerned. Instead politics and the media’s misunderstanding of what makes a rock star have hogged all the media space.

 

The Indian cricket team, N Srinivasan, the Supreme Court have tried their best to get back to earlier ascendancy positions but to no avail. There have been occasional successful incursions into media space short bursts of supremacy but not enough and not as much as the years before. Will 2015 be any better for Indian cricket? Or while the media has been distracted, have kabaddi, football, hockey and tennis made significant inroads?

 

Any ideas?

 

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