Ranjona Banerji: The new, sloppy world of Indian journalism

21 Apr,2015

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The Prime Minister of India is apparently upset that the media targeted his minister VK Singh for his “presstitute” remark, while ignoring the good evacuation work that the former chief of army staff had done in Yemen.

 

In these media-obsessed times, where we are given more importance than we are worth, perhaps the PM’s comments are understandable. What I find intriguing is the number of working journalists who agree with Narendra Modi about the lack of attention paid to India’s exemplary role in evacuating people from the dangers in Yemen. If you work in a newspaper or a TV channel or a website, then you have a say in what goes into your paper or appears on your channel or on your website. To come on Twitter and start ranting about “the media” as one entity which ignored events in Yemen is childish and exposes your own irresponsibility. What were you doing? Does your job have no value or meaning? Can you not make your voice heard in your newsroom? In that case, what sort of a journalist are you? The best newsrooms after all are those in which there is healthy discussion and that is a euphemism for a fight!

 

And if your place of employment has taken a policy decision to ignore the sort of stories that you feel strongly about, take a stand. Protest or even better, quit: that way you will show the world the depth of your beliefs and your ideals.

 

But no, you have that loan, your child’s education, your weakness for shoes or whatever. So much easier to do a sloppy job at work and then come to social media to slam this entity called “the media”. Imagine how good a journalist you are when you pretend that there is such a thing as “the media” which thinks and acts as one. I use the word “sloppy” deliberately because if you are a job-worker then you have no business being a journalist. I find this category of journalist more repulsive than those who openly support a political party. At least they take a position openly in their professional life, whether you agree with them or not. But these say-nothing-at-work-and-rant-on-social-media journalists are nothing but snivelling cowards who pretend to have principles but only care about their pelf.

 

But given the state of media managements today and the general standard I see around me, I give thanks that I have been unemployed for five years now and counting. And thanks to this column, unemployable as well!

 

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Since I wrote about how no one knows what Rahul Gandhi did when he was away from public life for two months or what he did, this joke on Twitter after his speech at a rally and in Parliament seemed appropriate: apparently, he’d been learning to speak Hindi!

 

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Other political parties in India must be either tearing their metaphorical hair out or hugely relieved that the national media’s obsession with AAP means that this Delhi-based parties regularly wins newsprint space and airtime over even the prime minister of India. One of those bane and boon situations…

 

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