Ranjona Banerji: Is this the ‘Independence’ Republic looks to foster?

07 Mar,2017

By RanjonaBanerji

 

This legend appears under the headline “Arnab’s Republic, Modi’s Ideology”, written by Sandeep Bhushan, posted on January 25, 2017, on the news website thewire.in.

“This article, and comments on it left by readers, have been taken down in compliance with an ex-parte order of temporary injunction in respect of an interlocutory application filed by Rajeev Chandrasekhar before the Hon’ble City Civil Court at Bengaluru on March 2, 2017 restraining us from providing access to its contents.

The injunction dated March 2, 2017, was received by us on March 6, 2017.

The Foundation for Independent Journalism will be challenging the injunction.”

The article is written by a former colleague of Goswami’s at NDTV. It discusses the possible rightwing slant of the channel given Goswami’s own predilections based on his Times Now shows and also the slant shown by Rajeev Chandrashekhar. The article also discusses how the chief operation officer of Jupiter, which handles Chandrashekar’s media interests like Asianet, put out a memo stating that only rightwing journalists should be hired. The memo was later retracted. What may have hurt is the reference to Chandrashekhar getting contracts in the aviation industry from this government. This issue was first raised by NewsLaundry, a prominent website which keeps track of the media.

The need to file an ex-parte injunction is intriguing. It means that thewire.in’s views were not heard. If nothing else, this shows where the Republic may be headed as a channel and rest assured, if this is how it begins, its relationship with the use of the word “republic” in the Preamble to the Constitution of India, will be tenuous to say the least.

After India’s most vociferous and nationalistic English news anchor quit Times Now, we were told that ArnabGoswami was going to return and sweep Indian journalism away with a fine example of how an “independent” media should conduct itself.

Then we learnt that this “independent” media would be funded by Chandrashekhar, a businessmen with BJP leanings and TV Mohandas Pai, ex-Infosys and frequent TV studio guest with distinct pro-NarendraModi leanings. This “independent” media outlet was first hit when the BJP’s SubramaniamSwamy objected to the use of the word “Republic” by a commercial enterprise and threatened to move court if the name was not changed. Goswami’s channel will now be called “Republic TV”.

We are yet to see the channel though, and the launch date of January 26 has come and gone, and now it appears that we cannot read some articles about it either. Or is it critical articles that will have injunctions filed against them, thus upholding various hitherto unknown principles of “independent” media? Independent of understanding of journalism itself, perhaps, given that Goswami’s last days at Times Now showed him treading a line which was far removed from how most journalists view their calling.

Bhushan’s “contentious” article pointed out how a rightwing news outlet was not necessarily a bad thing. It has long been my case that it is time Indian media outlets declare their political leanings and affiliations as happens elsewhere in the world. Openness is definitely preferable to either furtive support or the bigger pretence that the media outlet has no viewpoint or is all things to all people. God knows in India at least intelligent rightwing or conservative comment is hard to find. Or even well-written for that matter – compare The Spectator to any rightwing writing in India and you will weep.

It is another matter whether Republic TV will provide that sharp and intelligent rightwing commentary. It is clear that even before it has launched Republic TV and its owners do not like to be questioned. And that is going to be a long and bumpy ride, independent media or not.

**

An army jawan committed suicide after The Quint, a news website, put up a story about the Army’s “sahayak” or buddy system. The jawan was recorded criticising his superiors after being asked leading questions. His family says he was not aware that he was speaking to journalists or that he was being recorded.

“Sting” journalism remains a murky and dodgy practice which needs to be both examined and excoriated further. If someone has to die so that you get a “good” story, surely that is murder and not journalism? I searched The Quint for an apology or an acknowledgement but could not find it. I would be grateful for a link.

 

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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Is this the ‘Independence’ Republic looks to foster?”

  1. Ganjan Jhon says:

    I have read your http://www.mid-day.com/articles/ranjona-banerji-pollution-has-no-religion/17727194 so called #Sickular wrting . Shame in India people are there that dont respect majority.

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