If you are reading this you have already lived three days more than mandated by some channels and some unnamed expert astrologers. We were all marked for death on July 7. I can’t ask you to celebrate because there is more danger coming. July 22, August 6 and then… Apocalypse!
One story that news channels should have grabbed and played up was the investigative report of BBC’s Richard Watson on the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, says BV Rao. India’s news channels have unfairly been carrying the stigma of helping the terrorists in their mission. Watson pointed out that there was something elementarily wrong about the Government’s accusation.
I always thought that the immortal Amitabh line in Sholay, “Tera naam kya hain, Basanti” (what’s your name, Basanti?) was unbeatable for its eloquent, if deliberate, stupidity. But try this for competition: NDTV’s Nagma was in Surat, outside a shop that caters to Andhra migrants. Nagma, to the shopkeeper: Aap ka naam bataiye, Telugu mein bataiye (tell us your name, tell us your name in Telugu)! He said his name was ‘Anil’. Wonder what his name would be Hindi!
Guest Column Newsmanic: If Dhoni has killed our World Cup chances, we are all co-accused in the murder
Our channels take any defeat badly, but cricket defeats are especially personal. Not only are the endless hours of hype wasted, the channels are short-changed on easy content by a few days. Criminal dereliction of national duty on the cricketers’ part... The problem is, cricket is moving in a new direction and all our arguments and debates are getting outdated fast. The question is not anymore about how much cricket to play, whether to play for money or honour, etc etc... writes veteran journalist B V Rao.
Media veteran B V Rao writes on the variety of exclusives that the English dailies had to offer to readers in the week gone. “It was a pleasant read through the week, as the three dailies continued to hawk their virgin stories rather than treat us to their normal routine of yesterday’s repackaged TV… But good things don’t last forever,” says Rao.
The attacks on Indian students in Australia and the disappearance of Air France flight 447 took up TV time last week. The coverage of these two incidents showcased at once the power of TV as a medium and how the channels insist on undermining that power by constantly digging the ground under their feet, says BV Rao.
When the markets opened on May 18, 2009 for the first time after the thumping Congress win, it wasn’t just the Sensex that went berserk. CNBC’s Udayan Mukherjee’s exuberant on-air antics left quite a few speechless and highly bemused. This has left BV Rao wondering if it is becoming acceptable behaviour for anchors to wear their emotions on their sleeve.
Politicians are masters of denying the obvious, so it’s not easy to get them to acknowledge defeat. But some of the defeats of Election 2009 have been so stunning that even the most hard-boiled have not attempted to twist facts, says BV Rao.
For too long has Bihar been seen as a drag on the country. The heartening thing about Nitish Kumar’s three years in power is that he is deconstructing Laloo’s Bihar not merely by matching political chicanery, but by good governance and by appealing to the unifying ‘Bihari pride’ rather than the divisive Bihari castes. BV Rao takes a look at Bihar under Nitish’s rule.
In three press conferences in three weeks, Rahul Gandhi showed he has emerged out of the shadows of his family to be his own man. BV Rao writes an open letter to Congress party Chairman Sonia Gandhi, imploring her to end the older Gandhi’s political internship.
Before 26/11, I used to be an Arnab Goswami regular. The ‘Newshour’ show moves fast, the debates are brief, he moderates the debates well and comes prepared with the stuff. But post 26/11 and the attendant success for Times Now, something has changed, says BV Rao.
If, as a society, we are turning out to be actors for TV, venting anger at the drop of a hat, ignoring acceptable norms of behaviour, I think I owe an apology to my professional mates. I suppose every society gets the media it deserves. But that does not mean the basics of news journalism can be brushed aside to load more emotion into an already sad story, says BV Rao.
Justice Verma had enough scope for making an example out of India TV for its omissions and commissions. But a judgement delivered without a hearing to the accused knocks the bottom out of justice. In his eagerness to establish his authority early on in the game, Justice Verma seems to have just missed a sitter at the net, says BV Rao.
Jarnail Singh has been soundly condemned by journalists for shaming the profession when he crossed the line between journalism and activism. But my embarrassment as a journalist began much before Singh tossed his shoe, with deliberate miscalculation, into an empty chair two places away from P Chidambaram, says a candid BV Rao.
On seeing US President Barack Obama go on air on Jay Leno’s ‘The Tonight Show’ about 10 days ago, BV Rao wonders when one can see such a development in India. According to him, no Indian channel is even thinking of it, perhaps because they can’t see beyond their larger-than-life editors; and no Indian head of state has bothered to face the public directly after being elected to the high post.
Even as the nation remained glued to the TV sets during the 60-hour Mumbai terror attacks, the ‘live coverage’ came in for a lot of flak. Veteran journalist BV Rao in an open letter to the National Broadcasting Association (NBA) analyses what was wrong with the coverage and why the need of the hour is better content more than a self-regulating content code.