Ranjona Banerji: Same old news on AAP

31 Mar,2015

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Was it lack of news that made Indian news channels get stuck to the fighting within the Aam Aadmi Party or lack of imagination? Or was it true? Was there really nothing else of any significance happening in India or the world? The AAP, which took Delhi by storm, may have spelt hope to millions of Indians but in cold hard terms although it swept the Delhi Assembly polls, it has little presence in the rest of India. But it does have two former journalists in its upper echelons and they seemed to have ensured constant news coverage.

 

So we got press conferences and counter press conferences and allegations and counter allegations. The problem as far as the viewer was concerned is that none of the protagonists was very charismatic and none of the allegations were salacious enough. The result was the same old same old being played over and over again.

 

It could safely be said that had India won the Cricket World Cup, the AAP’s event managers would have had to delay publicising their squabble.

 

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While on the AAP, it is also evident that they got stung by their own addiction to “sting operations”. Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi chief minister, had asked members of the public to conduct their own sting operations to expose government corruption and wrongdoing. But much more than that, we have seen members of the AAP conducting sting operations on each other. A serious strategy bzzztake in the long run if you ask me.

 

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The crash of the Germanwings plane into the French Alps seems to have stretched the international media. The story has emerged in a piecemeal manner. The facts however have been chilling. It is interesting to note however that the international TV channels have been bog-standard in their reporting. All the speculation and questioning that accompanied both the Malaysian Airlines tragedies – one plane shot down, the other vanished – are missing here.

 

It is disappointing that Indian news channels have not gone further on the story. Some grilling of Indian companies on their safety and medical protocols would not have been amiss. One understands that an air crash is not as exciting as the quarrels within AAP and Virat Kohli’s relationship with Anushka Sharma, but still..

 

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It is interesting to see that Times Now, in spite of the thrashing it got from social media on its appalling coverage of India’s loss in the Cricket World Cup, is sticking to its usual obnoxious style and to its employees, no matter how intolerable their behaviour. Jeremy Clarkson, recently sacked from Top Gear by the BBC, could try Times Now because it is clear that no matter how little you respect any sort of journalistic ethics, Times Now will stand by you.

 

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Conversations with journalists who live in the national capital reaffirm the same conditions – fear of the current government at the Centre and in particular of BJP president Amit Shah. There is also the additional problem that managers of media houses face – all government ads now run through the prime minister’s office. Which means that one way or another, various Big Brothers are watching.

 

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