TV journalism is dying
Arnabification of news TV marks end of intelligence in media
By MQ on August 4, 2013
Why is Indian news TV in the doldrums that it is in today? The Times of India will have you believe it is all the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) fault for mandating a 12-minute advertising cap per hour, an extremely good pro-consumer move. But, more to the point, news TV is dying today because of Arnab Goswami. Not because of him personally, but his personality.
Make no mistakes, the author has nothing against Arnab Goswami and he is far from being a member of the Comintern like folks at CNN-IBN. While sometimes his politics is suspect, Arnab is a nationalist who evidently cares deeply about India. The problem is that he set off a revolution in Indian news TV, a revolution that has seen communists and pseudo-secularists come to the fore in rival channels at the cost of news.
Times Now came across a radical model to evening news shows, minimal reportage and tons of volume. A model that viewers found inherently fascinating, thus relegating old established channels to the status of has-beens. The only way for them to compete was therefore to copy Arnab’s lead, or so they thought.
The fact remains that there is only one Arnab. Sagarika Ghose is not Arnab. While Arnab is loud, he does not screech like Sagarika Ghose or claim to be holier than thou (well, he does at times) like the three stars of Archana. They have all moved to hosting ‘evening debates’ where the decision is set in stone before the debate starts – the decision being that the BJP is bad, Narendra Modi is Beezlebub himself and Rahul Gandhi is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
This has led to a unique situation where India’s TV news channels hardly do news anymore. If you watch these channels exclusively you will believe that only three things happened in India through the day. Heck, when Srinivasan-itis was at its peak, if you watched Times Now through the day you would believe that Indian cricket was in its death throes and nothing else of importance happened in this great nation of 1.2 billion people.
This has led to channels having very few reporting resources. Young kids go through journalism school to join television channels to find that there are no jobs. Sorry, if this sounds sexist, but even with courses that ‘train you to be an anchor’, the money would be better spent on plastic surgery to guarantee becoming an anchor. Or if we lived in ‘Archana-World’ is to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth.
The problem is that other channels that rival Times Now believe that they can only defeat Times Now with an anti-Modi agenda which can only be achieved by calling various crackpots and crooks who have a vested interest in the survival of the UPA. This is instead of the best way to compete, which is by being a better news channel and reporting actual news and having actual reporters in every State of the country. Sooner of later, viewers will realise that the channel that gives the best is Twitter.
If I want my daily fix of irrational debate, I will just go to Twitter.