Somi has a PG diploma in Journalism from the Indian Institute of Media Studies and Information Technology at YMCA, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Political Science. She's worked for NBS and Network 1, and has interned with The Asian Age. She prefers the political beat and plans to one day hijack the news-rooms of the biggest news channels. We can already feel Arnab trembling.
We Are Same Same But Different
Night after night when India sits in front of its television sets at 9’ o clock to watch a Digvijay Singh bullied, a Madhu Kishwar panting for breath, a Ravi Shankar Prasad walking out of a television studio – all on India’s one-stop shop for high decibel infotainment blitzkrieg – other channels are trying “to be different”. So, after a night of TRP-pulling and nerve-wrecking by Arnab Goswami, the following day his affable or should we say beleaguered contemporaries join in for a happy kitty party in the Twitter kingdom to pat each other’s back and make lengthy conversations and philosophical comments on how some “loud” elements in the business are turning news into a hyperbolic, jingoistic, dictatorial monologue.
Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN has now taken it upon himself to battle away the miscreants in the news business. No prizes for guessing who is the “noise” in his world.
Too bad that Rajdeep’s vision for a better universe with only-news-no-noise, sounds a little meaningless when you turn on his own channel and are greeted by decibel levels and rants which would make even Arnab doff his hat in deference.
Not that Rajdeep is the only one taking potshots at He Who Must Not Be Named. His NDTV counterpart, Barkha Dutt has done a better job of avoiding the Clash of the Titans – desi version. Rather than passing on the buck, she simply changed her slot from primetime to late night. So now she’s up against Emotional Atyachaar and Homeland. Ooh, might not be as wise a choice as she thought. But at least she’s “being different”.
Could it be that it’s only Arnab’s ex-colleagues and contemporaries who are concerned and dismayed by his abysmal (but sadly for them, highly popular) panel discussions? And that the younger crop, couldn’t give a damn? Well, you might consider rethinking that, going by the wide-eyed and relatively young Rahul Kanwal’s cock-a-snook tweets about The Voice.
Advice being imparted for the general good of the news world? Or is there a secret “agenda” and “propaganda” to the tweet? The tweet was posted on February 9, 2013 – the day Afzal Guru was hanged and media got its story of the year and each channel got into the “pro-nation patriots and anti-nation human rights lobby” debate. And let’s not forget the Centrestage promo which shows Rahul Kanwal saying that the programme and Headlines Today is going to “cut through the noise”. If only the message wasn’t delivered at a decibel level which could deafen most.
Agreed Arnab’s primetime debate panel on that day was not balanced given that Majid Memon of NCP, Smriti Irani of BJP, Rahul Narvekar of Shiv Sena and Arnab himself had the same thing to say and poor Shabnam Lone, representing the human rights angle could only express her helplessness. Granted that Arnab treated the day as his opportunity to announce and pronounce the greatness of the Indian legal system. Agreed that Arnab, without beating around the bush, made it clear he was immensely elated to have gotten rid of a terrorist. But was the wide-eyed anti-propaganda on Kanwal’s channel any different?
For the full Video go to: http://www.istream.com/news/watch/285469/Afzal-Guru-victim-of-political-conspiracy
We think not.
A convenient quote from Omar Abdullah’s statement was pulled up as a slug to give the channel’s judgment on Afzal’s killing. And then, although the Headlines Today panel looked fairly balanced, 80 per cent of the air time went into hearing the views of former Jammu and Kashmir interlocutor Radha Kumar. Kumar was not only uninformed about the situation in J&K after the hanging but also could barely provide any insight into the subject.
For the full video go to: http://www.istream.com/news/watch/287014/Row-over-Afzal-Gurus-selective-hanging
And the games continue with everyone concerned trying to win in the “How not to be Arnab Goswami” board game. Sadly for us viewers, there’s so much focus on not being Arnab that they seem to emulate him more than less. Suddenly channels have started to treat Arnab Goswami as the benchmark for all that is right and wrong in TV news. Look left, right or centre, all you see and hear are anti-Arnab jibes. Promos, headlines, choice of panel, snide remarks on shows and of course the tweets by primetime news anchors are driven by Arnab’s histrionics on his own channel.
Through it all, the only person not bothering to be on Twitter is Arnab himself. Busy with his eccentricities on national television night after night, untouched by the “competition” and his naysayers and reveling in the results of the deeply flawed TRP results. While the other channels look like Stepford wives – following Arnab’s lead and not managing to do a very good job of it. No wonder everyone’s tuning in to the Oracle and the Judge and Jury all rolled into one, every night. And through it all, Arnab and his travelling circus trundles along oblivious to the high-decibel naysayers who are doing exactly what they denounce.
Image by: Swarnabha Banerjee