Ranjona Banerji: Fair, upright, always objective, never biased columnists to the PM’s rescue

30 Jun,2015

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The recent attacks on journalists in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the deaths of two, Jagendra Singh and Sandeep Kothari, have shocked many and started a small conversation between journalists. But the fact remains that the conversation is small. There is an undoubted divide between English language and regional journalists and the clout is largely concentrated in the hands of the English media.

 

The divide is understood and accepted but it is not breached. On the whole, English language journalists are better paid and are seen as more professional. Language newspapers are often owner and agenda driven and journalists are used to do far more than report, sub and bring out a journal or produce news bulletins. Sadly, instead of the “professionalism” moving to local and regional journalists, English journalists are more and more opting to act as brokers for their owners and managers.

 

We all know all this but are unable to give ourselves a voice and think and act as one. The outrage lasts for a while, dies and out and we are back to where we started. Thanks to cross-ownership patterns and television, some regional and local journalists are paid decent wages but not all and not enough. The wage board concept seems archaic and anachronistic but for many journalists it is the only safeguard to give them some wage at all.

 

The plight of the local journalist is best explained in this op-ed piece by Omar Rashid in The Hindu:

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/for-regional-journalists-its-a-fight-for-survival/article7364281.ece

 

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There has been a lot of muttering on social media that “the media” has not been doing enough on the “Vyapam” scam in Madhya Pradesh. The allegation is the admission and selection processes to government jobs and colleges were rigged by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board. The numbers run into 1000s. The problem appears to go back to 2008. Investigations began in 2013. Over 1800 people were arrested. Oddly, somewhere between 25 and 40 witnesses and suspects have died since 2013. The state government insists that these are “natural” deaths but logic belies that argument.

 

Stories, reports and opinions about this scam and the spate of deaths have all appeared regularly in local and national newspapers. The perceived problem in today’s India is that no issue is an issue unless it appears on television debates with plenty finger-pointing and defensive yelling. As we have seen in the Lalit Modi case.

 

Unfortunately for the dead suspects and witnesses, prime time debates have not seen fit to take on the government in this particular instance. The Lalit Modi saga continues to excite although it may well die out soon.

 

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One of the funniest aspects of the Lalit Modi case is the number of “expert”commentators coming out in support of the former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi, now in self-imposed exile in Mayfair, Montenegro, Portugal, Venice and such like tough places to live and party. Many of these belong to the category which tends to moan and bemoan the tremendous damage done to cricket by the short format game and the high glitz of the Indian Premier League. From Indian Express to New Indian Express to firstpost.com to The Times of India and more, they tell us how Lalit Modi is misunderstood and misjudged. He was wickedly hounded by the former UPA government and the BCCI for nothing.

 

It does not take much to see that these fair, upright, always objective, never biased columnists, known for their slight tilt towards the BJP (unlike ghastly paid media unspeakably evil anti-Hindu anti-India secular dynasty hacks), are in fact trying to protect prime minister Narendra Modi from any and all possible muck from this case which has embroiled his external affairs minister and the chief minister of a BJP-ruled state.

 

Looking forward to more efforts to sanctify Lalit Modi on the road to saving Narendra Modi…

 

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The Press Institute of India and the International Committee of the Red Cross announce their annual competition for the three best articles and three best photographs on a humanitarian subject. This year’s theme is “Reporting on the fate of victims of natural/manmade disasters”. The awards carry cash prizes of Rs 50,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000.

 

Reports and photographs need to have been published between April 2014 and March 2015 in any language or English journal.

 

Please visit www.pressinstitute.in for further details.

 

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