Ranjona Banerji: How many of the young will watch Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV?

28 Apr,2017

By Ranjona Banerji


Based on the frank and delightful conversation between ArnabGoswami and PradyumanMaheshwarion mxmindia.comyesterday, I have now discovered that I am an “older generation person”. In case the nation wants to  know, I have reached this conclusion because I am older than the people whom Goswami has called “older generation persons”. Of course, I could be fooling myself and I am in fact an older than older generation person – in which case I expect the requisite respect.


I am not however any of the other creatures whom Goswami has great disdain for – I am not a “Lutyens’ journalist”. Nor am I a “legacy journalist”. Nor am I any good at this sort of jargon. Even worse, I am not one category of journalist or an Indian whom ArnabGoswami finds abhorrent – I am not a great votary of nationalistic journalism, the sort of journalism which Goswami practices.


I quote Rabindranath Tagore: “India has never had a real sense of nationalism. Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of Nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.”


As if fake nationalism were not bad enough, there is an enormous arrogant conviction amongst TV journalists that they set the agenda. There is in Goswami’s interview great contempt for online news sites and other journalists. Luckily, he appears to have left print journalists alone – if you set aside the patent anger against his former employer The Times of India. But there are several problems with this. Already, for young people, TV is not the news media of choice. The online world is. There is no point talking about the digital presence that his Republic TV if he is going to have contempt for the medium as he has with thewire.in. From all accounts, his foray into reddit.com showed his unfamiliarity with the medium of our times. The median age of the global population is 29.7, says a new survey byworldometers.info. How many of those young people are glued to TV news do you think?


With any luck though, the legacy of journalism will veer towards the print and web versions and not the TV version of journalism, which as the English news-watching part of the nation knows, is often not what the nation wants to know but more about the anchor telling us what he thinks we should know. Open debates and burning questions may have been off air since November 2016, but the yelling and screaming and hysterical nationalism of TV has been on in full force.


And with or without Goswami’s Republic, the faux nationalism has been out in full force. And so has the bias – India has suffered terrorist attack upon terrorist attack since May 2014 but the government at the Centre has not been held to task by our Great Patriot News Anchors. The recent deaths of CRPF personnel in a vicious Naxal attack in Chhatisgarh was blamed on students, leftists, liberals, intellectuals and anyone but the Chhatisgarh government which has been in power in that state for three consecutive terms. You don’t need to be a Mensa member to know that both Central and state governments in this case are run by the BJP.


Goswami says in his interview that he is proud that Rajeev Chandrashekhar is an investor in Republic TV. Chandrashekhar, who also owns Asianet, is also a strong BJP supporter. But he ducks Pradyuman’s question which asks about bias and about conflict of interest. This is disingenuous on Goswami’s part. Although to be fair to him, he does say that his idea of nationalism is close to that of the BJP. Although to be fair to everyone else, Goswami has been off air for only six months. There were plenty of opportunities when he was with Times Now to take on the government for attacks from Pakistan – Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Uri, to name just a few. But the focus was not on making the NarendraModi government quiver with fear at Goswami’s rage – and therefore, the questions.


It will be interesting to see his reaction to the cow protection thugs who go around killing people when he is back on air. Perhaps those will be easy to blame on JNU students, liberals, other journalists and so on. As tweets from Republic TV did after the Sukma attack on the CRPF – which raises questions about lack of bias and a basic understanding that nationalism is not a form of journalism.


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