Ranjona Banerji​: Times Now… journalism?

22 May,2018

By Ranjona Banerji


​The Mumbai Press Club’s RedInk Awards has quickly become one of the year’s highlights for the media. The event has grown substantially in the last eight years and yet remains centred firmly within the media and journalism, rather than getting sidetracked into glamour and celebrity worship as happens so often with such initiatives.
For those who are members and those who visit regularly, for all the changes and improvements in the past few years, the Mumbai Press Club remains grounded. It is where you can be who you are without bothering about what people think. It is also the antithesis of a “Lutyens media” enclave, a pejorative often flung at Delhi journalists who hobnob with the powerful and influential. There are few of such sorts visible at the Mumbai Press Club every night. I vociferously object when I am tagged with this “Lutyens” word since it has nothing to do with me and where and how I have practised journalism. I know nobody important, anyway!

The winners represent the best of Indian journalism, chosen by juries and curated by senior journalists. Lifetime Achievement Awards have been given to the late Vinod Mehta, Mrinal Pande, Prannoy Roy and Vinod Dua among others. This year’s winner is Mark Tully and Faye D’Souza of Mirror Now won Journalist of the Year.

I was not present at the event and the main complaint I have heard (journalists complain, okay?) is that the event was too long so that there was not enough time to drink!!! And that is a serious issue which the managing committee must consider. This is a Mumbai Press Club event after all!

Congratulations to all the winners! And a special shout​-​out to former colleagues who are shining stars in these difficult times for the media.


In the other mad world of television news, some channels focused on rising fuel prices, others on the Karnataka elections. But Times Now (I apologise for focusing on Times Now but I am easily appalled, I find, when it comes to television news) is in a category of its own. The channel picked up on a letter written by the Catholic Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto to parish priests under his archdiocese which says:

“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution and the secular fabric of our country…

“It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the General Elections…

“As we look forwards to 2019 when we will have a new Government…”

The letter then goes on to prayers for Mother Fatima and other church matters.

However, Times Now’s celebrity anchors found implicit in this letter several unacceptable criticisms of the current government at the Centre to which the “secular lobby” had to respond. The worst of these crimes was the last sentence which said there would be a new government in 2019. Because in Times Now’s limited understanding of our democracy, the Archbishop has implied that the Great Modi will not be forming the next government. Though of course, whoever forms the government, including Modi, it will be a new government.

Plus of course, how dare anyone suggest that there is a threat to democratic principles or to the secular fabric of India. Times Now, which has worked hard in the past year to ensure that social and religious divisions are exacerbated, has found no such evidence that even a single person has been harmed in this country for being from a minority religion or from a lower caste since May 2014. Everything has been perfect. That is why the “secular lobby” must answer.

It is not worth pointing out that Hindu priests periodically endorse political parties and that there is no endorsement of anyone in this letter. It is worth pointing out that Times Now has worked as hard as Republic TV to ensure that the connections between their channels and journalism remain as tenuous as possible.

The best and the worst of journalism in one column. Wow.


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


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