Ranjona Banerji: How the media has reviewed the Modi sarkar

26 May,2017

By Ranjona Banerji


The “big fight” going on in the media is one of “omission and commission” to use a popular media cliché. Three years of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre – and do we fall down in hagiographic genuflection or do we stand up and criticise?

From one point of view – which includes mine – the past three years have not improved life in India and have significantly worsened it in several aspects. Not the economy – which was the big expectation – not jobs, not peace in the neighbourhood, not corruption in the way it affects the common man – improvement from the last government is practically nil if we have not slid further back.

UPA’s second term was marred by serious corruption charges and even worse “policy paralysis”. The people were ready for “change”. Modi and the BJP promised the moon. The moon was reached by a mission started under the UPA. So much for that. And that’s the story of any “successes” of this government, more or less.

So, how have the media responded to these three years? A very few have tried to be objective – that is, critical with a few lollipops thrown about. Most of the print media and news websites come under this category. Television has on the whole not even attempted a proper evaluation for obvious reasons. Instead, Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan, Sonu Nigam, Twitter Twitter, Paresh Rawal, Kashmiri separatists, Congress, Opposition, Lalu, Tharoor, Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan.

O joy and Jai ho.




The American media has just exposed to the world one of our most difficult dilemmas. By publishing information, including photographs from the crime scene, of the Manchester bomber and bombing before the police released details to the media, Britain claims it has severely hampered their investigation. It has stopped sharing any intelligence information on Manchester with the US security agencies, breaking from usual protocol.

So what should the US media have done with sensitive information that it received, in this case most likely from US intelligence agencies? To hold it would go against journalistic principles to inform the public. To use it may alert others in the bomber’s terror circle that the agencies were on to them.

It’s a tough call but I personally here would err on the side of caution. It in no way helps journalistic principles to hamper an investigation into something as serious as a terror attack. Publishing the alleged bomber’s photograph, information about him and photographs of the bomb from the crime scene before the police were ready to release them does not really add anything to the public’s right to know.

The New York Times’ motto, “All the News that’s Fit to Print” I would say still stands. This news was perhaps not fit, given the possible fallout.




It is becoming increasingly impossible to watch most of our English news channels. It’s not just the high decibel fake nationalism. It’s that evident desire for war in Kashmir – against apparently both Pakistan and Kashmiris. Many of these news channels pay constant obeisance to the Narendra Modi government and find it painful to criticise the BJP. But is this the government viewpoint? Imminent war? Or are the channels being egged on by a bunch of junior functionaries and retired armed forces personnel looking for reflected glory? And what about the owners of these channels? I expect nothing else from Republic TV and Arnab Goswami but is this nonsense the vision that Aroon Purie and the India Today group have for India? Truly, the mind boggles.


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