Heroism in Journalism

Date: 28-03-2015

Yesterday was not a good day for the Indian cricket fans. Though my inclination towards cricket is nix, one thing that I have been noticing right from yesterday is the trending of ‪#‎ShameOnTimesNow‬ tag which is the public reaction to Times Now’s ‘Super Prime-time’ show The News hour debate (which is Arnab’s opinion expressing platform in disguise of a debate) where he, apparently, severely criticized the Indian Cricket Team for their defeat in World Cup-2015 semi-finals. Therefore, it is an appropriate opportunity for me to write this critique on the TOI group.

To be honest, I have not seen the debate. But I am going to write against Mr. Goswami, anyway. When he takes all the rights to criticize the ‘India’s Daughter’ documentary without doing the basic research of watching the documentary, I don’t see any reason in me making it a point to watch whatever circus went on in his so-called ‘panel’ yesterday. So, let me also wave some empty papers and say that the abstracts of his debate are all in public domain and, therefore, I needn’t watch the debate.

First Post did an article named ‘From India’s anchor to national meme’ early this month where it analyzed how Arnab has become irrational over the years. This time, it is india.com which did an article on how shamelessly he has undermined the Indian Cricket Team’s efforts at the World Cup. Had it not been for the overwhelming support from the ‘People of India’ (whom Arnab always takes the right to represent), I am sure he would have shown india.com its place. All that apart, I am happy that Arnab has not arranged for eleven empty chairs for directing questions to those chairs, indicating that the Indian Team members don’t have the nerve to face the Nation.

It is true that Arnab has been successful in understanding the mood of the majority of people of the country and hence no one took offence when he said ‘The nation wants to know’ because the nation really wanted answers to the questions he posed. But all this has been true in cases where the issues were political. When it came to non-political issues, we start to realize that he is not following the basic rule of journalism. Being neutral. That is where his reputation plunges in the eyes of sensible audience. Take the case of India’s Daughter documentary, for instance. He accuses the documentary maker of using the rapist’s interview as a publicity instrument. And what’s wrong with doing publicity. Are you, Mr. Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of ‘Times Now’, going to dole out lessons on how unethical resorting to sensationalism is? What can be more ironic? It is a known fact that TOI employs sensationalism for grabbing eye-balls. But it is funny how, even after realizing this, we do subscribe to it. The main reason for this, as pointed out by First Post, is that we get ‘infotainement’ while reading TOI or watching the Newshour (the most informative circus I’ve known).

In yesterday’s debate, Arnab started by saying, ‘Why are we being so touchy about the truth?’ This is what he does. He first mars the confidence of all those people who differ with the views which he holds. All his intellect, his command in being able to instantly express his thoughts and depicting others’ inability to give instant answers as their implicit acceptance that they are wrong are the key to the success of his show. But one thing is true for sure. Confidence cannot hide the truth. Every night I used to watch the debate and feel happy that there is at least one person who can take on politicians and thrash them. But the next morning, I would realize how unfair he was, given that it was a ‘debate’. It’s as if he is the teacher and the other panelists are students. It’s only he that talks; everyone else must listen and not make noise. Those who agree with him are rewarded with a chance to speak and those who don’t are scolded. One thing a teacher doesn’t do and Arnab does is going to the chairs of those who are absent and scolding the empty chairs.

It is true that Arnab is right most of the times and hence we don’t have any qualms about him being biased. I thought that having someone who is daring to oppose politicians is important. But today, I realize that if such a person, who, I am sure, will never succumb to political pressures, resorts to expressing illogical views to make himself a champion of Nation’s mood, then it is time for us to change the channel.

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