Ranjona Banerji: Awards underlining all that’s wrong with India’s journalism

06 Apr,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji

Amidst all the general fear and misery, a little humour is always welcome. And so, the ENBA awards from the media portal, exchange4media.com.

The website states, and I quote: “Celebrating the tremendous work done by the Indian news media, maintaining its credibility and dedication even amidst a global pandemic”.

Woah! Stop right there!

These awards are given to the broadcast media. For 2020, the India Today group won the most awards, 76. That’s Aaj Tak, which encouraged and celebrated the destruction of actress Rhea Chakraborty in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. And of course, India Today’s English edition which continued with its endless sycophancy to the Modi government.

I’ll grant you dedication.

But credibility?

There are several other gems. Like the special jury award to Times Now. You know that channel. Full of even more toxic content about Rhea Chakraborty and also full of BJP schmoozing. The “jury” was well chosen, with Abhijit Iyer Mitra and Anand Ranganathan, both beloved mainstays of the BJP glory on social media, as part of the “special” choices.

Needless to say, there was much outrage at these choices being questioned by the anti-national rest-of-the-media. The two screenshots show you the measured, dignified and high-quality response from JNU professor Ranganathan.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

The TV media is of course well known for giving endless awards to itself. While it is the dominant element of the mainstream media, barring a few individual exceptions, it shows the least inclination to practise any known variation of credible journalism compared to all other mediums. If you want to let exchange4media off the hook, at best you could say that since they initiated a broadcast media award, they have no option but to award them.

The record will show though that most of the mainstream TV media ignored the migrants walking home, gave undue publicity to ridiculous pot-crashing days called by the PM, have not as yet checked how many of the promises made about our severe lockdown of last year were actually kept, contributed to the confusion about rising Covid-19 cases and the protocols needed for control, added to the escalation of the Sushant Singh Rajput case by vilifying everyone around him just to increase rating points, largely ignored protesting farmers or presented them as anti-nationals and terrorists… the list of bad journalism examples from 2020 is almost endless.

The actual journalism was done by individual journalists, a few of whom within these “awarded” newsrooms but most were independent or worked with print and digital platforms.

In a sense, these “awards” underline all that is wrong with India’s journalism. For that one could be grateful?

**

The second major Covid-19 wave in India and confusing vaccine rules have at last woken up some wishy-washy news outlets to wake up. I was pleasantly surprised to read an edit in the April 5 edition of The Times of India about our planet’s shared future and lessons from the pandemic, which ended like this: “Steering society in the direction of common interest and shared futures while resisting authoritarian temptations can invigorate democracies, increasingly retreating inwards”.

Strong words indeed!

**

The French Anti-Corruption agency, AFA, has released a report that bribes were paid in the 2016 Rafale deal, signed by PM Narendra Modi.

How many of our well awarded mainstream TV channels are going to concentrate on these allegations of corruption against the ruling dispensation do you think?

 

https://www.mediapart.fr/en/journal/international/040421/sale-french-rafale-jet-fighters-india-how-state-scandal-was-buried?_locale=en&onglet=full

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal

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