Ranjona Banerji: News Television: Too delinked from reality?!

11 Jul,2017

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Like many other people I meet these days, I have taken a break from watching Indian news television in English – obviously a tiny minority if you go by the numbers. It has become so shrill and so almost delinked from reality that watching most news television is too painful to justify even 10 minutes. Bad enough that it has increased my blood pressure: why add a painkiller addiction to that as well?

Let us not pretend that news television has suddenly become strident. For the past six or seven years, shrieking has been its staple. But the propensity for divisive even destructive positions has increased incrementally over the years. And with each spin of the planet, news television has moved further away from journalism.

Of course there are exceptions and there are strange oases of reason amidst all the mayhem. A good part of NDTV, some part of CNN News18, only one programme in recent times on Times Now (would you believe it!), most of Mirror Now where you cannot believe that it is related to Times Now and of course, so far, Rajya Sabha TV though there is speculation of what will happen once we have a new vice-president.

But all this is not enough. It is one thing when confrontational journalism is used to expose the lies and wrongdoing of the establishment. It is journalism upended and corrupted when the establishment uses the news to diminish its opposition. And it is the nation which is denied when news deflects from issues facing the people to try and boost a dominant thought process. In such a scenario, what makes so many Indian television journalists different from those who work for state-owned media outlets in totalitarian states?

This is a question that has led me to escape.

 

**

 

I found refuge in the feature sections of newspapers which to be honest, I have avoided for years. I cut my eyeteeth in journalism in features and perhaps that is why I felt I’ve had my surfeit of lifestyle stories. But the language used in them continues to fascinate me, for its old-fashioned terminology and sometimes, its sheer ignorance of words and how to best use them.

A feature on Wimbledon – going on now – in the feature pages of a national newspaper focused on the traditions around the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament. The reader was informed that obviously the “humble” strawberry was an integral element of Wimbledon. What about the strawberry is “humble” I wanted to know. There was no explanation anywhere else in the story. So I wandered into language for fruit to satisfy myself. Strawberries are creepers: is that why the writer thought they were humble? That only fruits that grow on trees are majestic? Is it easy availability? So what makes a strawberry in the English summer more obsequious than an apple for instance? From my personal experience at Wimbledon, the strawberries are very expensive and really quite arrogant about it.

From fruits to vegetables: one of the Sunday papers had a fascinating story on how people in cities were growing vegetables in their balconies, using readymade low maintenance kits. The headline mentioned homegrown “tindas”. But nowhere in the long feature were tindas mentioned. Not one of the people who bought the kits or sold the kits said that tindas were popular vegetables to grow at home. To be honest, I am not sure that tindas are that popular to eat even outside North India or even very nice to eat, but that is not relevant.

So did the feature writer mention tindas which was cut by the subeditor who was making the page? Or did the headline writer just like the idea of a tinda in a headline and thought no one will read this anyway, so I’ll get away with it?

I will never know. But I find the life and times Uriah Heepish strawberry and the tenacious tinda far more fascinating than the rubbish that passes for journalism on Times Now.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She is also Consulting Editor, MxMIndia. The views here are her own.

 

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2 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: News Television: Too delinked from reality?!”

  1. Anthony A. Seal says:

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  2. Anthony A. Seal says:

    Leatherface (2017)

    See now : https://YESMOVIE. US

    2160p Full Movie Streaming

    A teenage Leatherface escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnapping a young nurse and taking her on a road trip from hell while being pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge.

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