Ranjona Banerji: In a high decibel world, anyone for better journalism?

16 May,2017

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Times Now anchor: Don’t you think, Mr Salve, that the Pakistan lawyer’s speech was all rhetoric?

Mr Salve: I would not like to comment on another lawyer’s speech.

Times Now anchor: But don’t you think Mr Salve…

 

At this point, I put my earplugs back in because I can take high decibel screeching only for short intervals after which my ears need a break.

The issue being discussed was of course the death sentence against Indian national KulbhushanJadhav by a military court in Pakistan on charges of spying, and the subsequent case being fought at the International Court of Justice between India and Pakistan.

What I understood from Times Now is that its top anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar had listened to the arguments at The Hague and come to certain conclusions. They then tried to get their guests to corroborate or sanctify those conclusions. Times Now constant Maroof Raza knows how to play the TV news game and agrees with the anchors and then adds his own ideas. Other panellists sometimes fall victim to the absurd idea that the anchors are interested in their personal opinions and up go the decibel levels. Mr Salve, by refusing to play the game, somewhat befuddled our anchors, who constantly interrupted him but did not have the required chutzpah to argue with him. A #BigFail for entire law degrees acquired in one’s own mind, would you say?

A far better discussion happened on NDTV and NidhiRazdan’s Left Right and Centre. Diplomat KC Singh, lawyer Dushyant Dave, journalist Jyoti Malhotra, party spokespersons SambitPatra and Manish Tiwari and the gentleman from Pakistan all had diverse views and ideas which gave the viewer something to chew on. Razdan did not allow too much hysteria and managed to check the gentleman from Pakistan and Patra from getting into a major battle. There was disagreement but it was civil. What a disappointment for viewers who are used to manufactured hysteria!

 

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Speaking of which, it was fascinating to try and understand the results of MxMIndia’s poll with MRSS on English language news channels. Republic TV, headed by the inimitable ArnabGoswami, seems to winning hearts and minds, with 41 % of urban Indians giving it a “better than the rest”. What does that say about other news channels and the hopes and expectations of urban Indians?

The “success” of Republic TV – too early to comment on success is my personal opinion and hence the inverted commas – continues to upset Rahul Kanwal of India Today TV. His latest flurry of tweets is about news reports alleging shady practices by the channel. Apparently it is available on secondary spots on the various platforms, according to a complaint made by the News Broadcasters Association of India to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Obviously unethical trade practices must be reported. But for TV anchors, are there better ways to fight Republic TV, one wonders. By practising better journalism, perhaps? I know. That was a joke.

 

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On the subject of better journalism, interesting that after all the anger we spent in December 2012 over the brutal gangrape and murder of Jyoti Pandey, now called “Nirbhaya” forever, more recent horrific crimes against women fly completely under the radar. It is TV journalism which sparks and encourages public outrage very often at times like this and strangely, the gruesome details of the latest case in Rohtak, Haryana, do not seem to have created any collective froth amongst our intrepid TV anchors. One understands they are ready to go to war with Pakistan, bullet-proof vests and all, but surely the women of India deserve some attention.

But perhaps, not when they are from Rohtak and not when Rohtak is in Haryana which is ruled by a BJP government…

 

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Meanwhile, a week back in this wonderful nation of ours and our village newspaperwallah has not responded to messages that we have returned. Therefore, newspaper journalism will be under the scanner only whenever his scooter arrives at top speed with high-decibel beeps.

 

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