MxM@10 | Ranjona Banerji: Writing without either censorship or fear

09 Sep,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji


In the beginning, congratulations on your 10th anniversary! And thank you for letting me be part of this incredible journey. Thank you for allowing me to say whatever I wanted to, with full support and without either censorship or fear.


I can almost remember the day that Pradyuman Maheshwari ran the idea of starting by me. It’s hard to believe that it’s 10 years already. I was jobless, having decided that I was no longer employable. The shenanigans on newsrooms, the steady degradation of editorial freedom thanks to management and owner pressure, the cowardice of editors at the very top, the relentless “monetisation” of every aspect of journalism, it had all become too much. Pradyuman too had just given up on a job and what a good decision that was for him and for those of us proud to be associated with!


The biggest problem for me, which Pradyuman insisted on, was that I had to watch TV news. In 2011, you might argue, TV news was not that bad. But it was getting there. Those primetime debates had already become tiresome. The TV support to the India Against Corruption movement was so clearly fraudulent, especially when you went out to the site and saw how cleverly TV angles could visually manipulate crowd strengths.


I also belonged to that weird lot of journalists who sometimes just wanted to switch off from the constant stream of news. That was my job, if you like. I didn’t want to be bombarded with the TV version of news after I got home. I understand why it can be an addiction, after all that’s why many of us journalists enjoy what we do. But we also know that nothing really happens 24/7. It’s just the same thing on an endless loop!


Anyway, enough about TV. Over the past 10 years, I learnt to negotiate my way around it and finally I chose social media over TV “news” which is now no longer “news” in India.


Over the years, Pradyuman has had to deal with a number of complaints about me and my opinions and he has done so graciously, without involving me in the matter and without curtailing my freedom. That is more than anyone can ask for. Through the ups and downs, his commitment has been total. The pandemic was particularly tough especially for the media, but he was steadfast against all odds. That in itself is commendable given how many larger groups have succumbed.


For me, this has been a life-changing experience and this is not a cliché! I have had to re-examine my own life in journalism several times over. To write about how journalism works and to comment on the mistakes of others forces you to look at your own mistakes. And you realise there have been many. The barricades which the media had built around itself have now fallen. Many readers and viewers do not understand how a newsroom works but consumers of news are no longer as clueless or as in awe as they used to be. This is how it should be. There is no need to be in awe of journalists. There is a need for greater scrutiny, within the profession and without.


India has a great history of good journalism but also an equal tradition of obfuscation. If we at have managed in any small way to break some shibboleths and tear down some iron curtains, then the last 10 years have been fun and productive!


Here’s to Team and the next 10 years!



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