- NL Sena
Hi Newslaundry Team,
I am Prateek, this is my second letter to you. I am a news junkie and for past 2 years I am also an podcast addict. Though I am a passionate listener but I took a break in between so to catch up with you, I binge-listened all your podcast since Hafta 100 in last 2 days. I heard Ranga Uncle calling Madhu Maam ‘Legend’, it was me who called her that for first time. I had no idea this would become a jab. My letter is not about any specific Hafta, I have some generic things to say and ask your opinion on it.
I don’t know any other fully crowd-funded independent media portal except Newslaundry in India but there is a surge of crowd funded podcasts in recent years all over the globe. Crowd funding brings many benefits which we all know but few problems as well. Mainstream media, though quite elitist, biased and money driven, always been politically correct and status quo-ist outlet, for good or bad. At present, You can’t be openly racist, casteist, sexist & abusive on it without consequence (with many exceptions though). This self regulation helped restricting many dangerous ideas. There is no such restriction in crowd funded news providers. Many loony and dangerous ideas are getting traction through this model. Like Richard Spencer’s White Nationalism or Alex Jones loony theories are mostly crowd funded and these kinda outlets are multiplying very fast. Such elements have always been there but internet has also given them an edge. How do you see it? One can say good ideas (podcasts) will defeat bad ones but this is wishful thinking. You have admitted in past that how easy is it to sell ‘Big Boss’ compare to other stuff. We all know, it is easy to collect ‘Chanda’ in name of ‘Ramleela’ or ‘Nautanki’ but not for any educational purpose. Ranga Uncle correctly mentioned somewhere that large percentage of Muslims want Sharia. Right now only fringe pro-sharia voices we hear in media. With crowd-funded media outlets, such people and ideas will be unstoppable. To me this crowd-funded model is like direct democracy, with its benefits and dangers. I am free speech absolutists so I am not talking about any legal ban, neither I am against any independent media portal but there must be some mechanism to counter such outlets. Your opinions?
My second question is primarily to Mr. Shekhri (others can answer it too), since he shows interest in stand up comedy. How do you see a comedian providing PrimeTime news? To what extent you find it healthy? I see a problem there because laughter holds too much power, for example Trump shitposted his way to the White House. A ‘news anchor+comic’ is too powerful to hold accountable, He/she can deliberately exaggerate or falsify a fact or narrative and then call it part of a joke. He has to say something like ‘Heil Hitler’ or ‘Nigger’ to create outrage. I was/am great fan of Jon Stewart, John Oliver and Bill Maher but I saw shortcomings of this model when I watched Indian comics trying to copy this model. This format is great until comedian is either very balanced or proving your narrative and calling Trump ‘orange buffoon’ but what if it is opposite. Western comedy has traditionally been mostly progressive and liberal but Indian comedy, like our society, is mostly conservatives, not that being liberal means good and conservative is evil but I hope you get my point.
I recently heard many guests and panellists in Hafta complaining about lack of news reporting and media houses cutting funds for ground reporting. They blamed media houses for that but I have my own theory about this based on anecdotal experiences. I have few friends who opted for journalism. When I asked their reasoning for becoming journalists they all told me similar things. They all wanted to become great author and intellectual like Hemingway, Sartre and Rushdie etc, journalism was actually a side business to get there. I think this is the main reason why we don’t see much fact reporting but opinions. When all journalists want to become Naipaul, it is natural they would think fact reporting as a menial task. Tell me how incorrect is my theory?
Keep on doing great work
Hello to the whole NL team,
There’s much to be appreciated in the efforts of the whole NL team, but let me just say the uncomfortable things today!
So, this is regarding the last NL hafta-125 and how exasperated I felt listening to it. I’m compelled to write because after all, we must “never do nothing (Madhu Trehan)”. I’ll try to be comprehensive and summarize my discomfiture at the discomposure of the “haftokhors (saying this with an evil laugh)”-
A) On the matter of ‘this’ generation being more violent than the earlier ones-
So much loud-speaking, ‘you can’t tell me that’, ‘no thats not true’, ‘I will not accept that’, ‘you don’t know’- it really did become senseless. Madhu silenced every counter voice on the panel. If “today’s generation” see’s things differently from you, not listening to the counter view will not make the truth vanish. You can keep denying the reality but shutting up Manisha was the worst you could do to the ‘holy’ cause of making this generation better. The whole discussion got reduced to anecdotes and personal experiences. Dear Madhu, you’d remember how you were enraged to hear Ms. Smriti Irani (then the HRD minister) proclaiming once that all was good with Indian women (I think this was some women’s days special program somewhere, may be it was -the international women’s conference). I felt the same after this podcast. And I agree with Manisha that these things were hardly reported back then. There has always been violence, in different forms, for different reasons, by different groups of people. Just because dalits didn’t protest, doesn’t mean they weren’t treated wrongly. Just because women didn’t speak out, doesn’t mean they weren’t beaten up or brutalized. Just because its not reported doesn’t mean there were no riots in your generation.
But the real problem isn’t whether you reached the right conclusion or not rather, what was the basis of your whole argument? Alas, the answer is anecdotes! And let us remember Manisha is your ‘award-winning-journo’… oops! slippery point, just got reminded Madhu has a lot many more of those… 🙂 koi nahi… I’ll still stand up for my generation.
B) In just giving out perception speeches, both Madhu (omitting out formal addressing out of my love for her and the assumed closeness to the whole team) and Mr Urmilesh forego the matter and news at hand. Everything became about ‘in our times’! There was no bringing back the sanity then. It was too warped a view of the reality. And then, is there any one reality? India, as is the rest of the world too, has as many realities, as many are the observing eyes. It felt like deja vu, this is the same Madhu who has, in some earlier hafta, observed that as one grows, one does’t realize when one crosses the boundary of becoming irrelevant. Of course, it would be a fallacy to judge you based on this disarrayed piece of “hot-hafta’, so I won’t do that. On a lighter note, it seemed like Mr Urmilesh and Madhu were Modi (the passive, silent killer) and Amit Shah (the active aggressor)- both culled other voices very successfully.
Where was the “protector-of-every-dissenting-voice”? Lets accept this- Madhu wasn’t a good moderator this time around! Listening to the gyan on hafta 125 I was reminded of “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive. (Blaise Pascal)”.
But that’s about people, NL team is not random people and thus shall not be excused.
C) The biggest worry though was, did I learn anything new about any of the subjects discussed? NO. I’m sorry, but your rant totally failed the cause of farmers or the common man. And I would request everyone to see the “primetime” coverage Mr Ravish Kumar has been doing for past few months, trying to understand the root causes of the futile cycle the farmer finds her/himself in, giving voices to their problems, trying to search a plausible solution, bringing the “other world” to fore and showing a mirror to us, the more privileged ones (read the uncaring self-serving class, myself included), and imploring people to think. One NL hafta may be too small a drop in the big ocean of what-needs-to-be-done, nevertheless, each drop counts.
This is not to say what you should say or not, but there’s something called editing, given that its not a live podcast. And, after all, isn’t it the responsibility of the editor-in-chief to make sure that the material going out be checked up for its relevance, importance and correctness. I think I have wrongly ranted out on Madhu, It was all the editor-in-chief’s fault 😉 (Caught you… ha ha ha).
I think this was by far the worst hafta for me, but I trust its going to be the “worst hafta ever”…!
From a loving listener,
PS: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead. (Mark Twain)”
First of all. I am glad to note newslawnry’s operating model that keeps out advertising driven news. I congratulate you for that.
I have subscribed to Newslaundry and, for the first time, listened to NL hafta 125. I am writing to provide my feedback.
1. Is feels good to listen to a discussion about that is not a shouting match.
2. I am glad to hear an effective counter by Madhu to ‘there has always been violence’ view of Manisha. I share Madhu’s view that today’s modern life is worsening insensitivity and impatience.
3.I am saddened about how the issue of cheering for Pakistan was discussed as a ‘non-serious’ topic. While a the necessity of sedition charge may be debatable, active cheering of a team belonging to a hostile country is a matter worth investigating and not to be treated lightly. I view such incidents as potential national security risk. Nationalism in a measured way is important
4. I also feel sad to note certain views expressed in the article https://www.newslaundry.com/2017/06/22/ram-nath-kovind-dalit-president-india-caste-hindutva-party
The author seems to have a problem with the President taking the blessings of Kanchi seer and calls it “Braminical” and “placing the seer’s status above that of a president”.The author would do well to note that India is a deeply spiritual country and the majority of Indians across castes follow gurus, Brahmin and otherwise, and don’t necessarily associate with profession. If the author accepts to the idea that people’s will should be the norm, the author should accept this reality and welcome it and not portray this as co demnable, regardless of his personal feeling. I am saddened to note that this point wasn’t discussed in the hafta.
Regardless I feel the content of newslaundry is with paying for.
PS: Typed from a phone. Excuse typos