Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dear Arnab

Dear Arnab

This is a strange post in the series “Dear…”.  You see it started with a letter to the leader of the Congress followed by one to their exalted lordships. Logically our respected Pradhan Mantri ji should have been next but my irritation when I happen to drop in on your channel is so large that I thought I would change the priority a little bit. I see this letter more as a social service rather than a forum to reduce my vent out as I will explain as we go on.

To give some context, From childhood I viewed journalism as a noble profession. Without  intending to brag I must state that  from my childhood people considered my general knowledge good. This GK had largely been built up by regular reading from beginning to end of the newspaper which happened to be the primary source of information in those days.  Newspapers had journalists of high calibre and integrity and they were  people what modern day MBAs would call “thought leaders”, a sadly extinct species nowadays.

Let me reiterate some of the “noble” principles of the profession.
  •         Newspapers disseminated facts for their viewers and presented “news”
  •        There was some separation between the editorial and business leanings
  •         Opinion (not to be confused with facts) was largely presented on the editorial page
  •         Parliamentary decorum was maintained. I might be  a bit conservative on this point, but I do strongly feel  that there is a certain dignity that journalism  demands.
  •         The most important principle was that a journalist considered himself as a pillar of  and an integral structure of democracy . This carried a certain responsibility and becoming a TRP machine or a spokesperson of a political party  was not an agenda. 

    Maybe my naivety and idealism is showing with this last statement.
With the advent of news channels things changed as they had to. The attention span of viewers reduced, the competition became intense and like the medical profession and education the business ran supreme and the primary mission of the journalist changed. The noble tenets of the profession  was the casualty of these development.
So what are my grievances against you? Let me try to enumerate them in order:

  • You masquerade as a journalist. Refer to the first paragraph of this post to  which I am sure you will be able to relate. A journalist has to be objective something which is absent among your various virtues.  Now I have read somewhere that you are trying to redefine journalism but my feeling is you are trying to destroy and not redefine. The examples to substantiate my beliefs but will  make this letter  too long. So I look forward to discuss this further  sometime somewhere in a neutral forum.
  • Our Indian society has some core values, chief among them being tolerance and co-existence. These values have stood us in good stead since eternity and while the world is  all about change, what you preach is an assault on our values and if people take you seriously will take us on a dangerous path. You have an eye on TRP’s and journalism be damned.  You and your cronies on panel  have a one point agenda to preach hatred and try to make non issues into major issues.
  • During  your  schooling I am sure you would have been exposed and maybe even participated in debates. There are actually two types of  debates, one where you “win” by presenting your points in a manner to awe the audience even if you don’t belief in them. The other are more discussion than debate where you listen with an open mind  and try to convince the others of your viewpoints and are willing to listen and even change your position depending on the persuasiveness of your panellists with differing view points.  The second one is largely fantasy  on my part and does not exist but a responsible journal should really pursue this option. What I never had heard before being subject to your channel was where the moderator had an agenda and had a lethal weapon in the form of the microphone and the power to silence anyone he could not browbeat.
  • The very purpose of your program is not to  inform nor report nor solve. It is all about appealing to the basic instincts. You and your cronies are modern day gladiators fighting your selected opponent gladiators by tying their hands in the form of shouting them down and lowering their volumes when they speak
  • I am sure with  little effort you could find panellists who could play a constructive role in a debate and don’t have hard line positions. However this would be against your business interests so you specialize in finding hard liners and people who can easily be bashed.
  • Bad debating. You seem to have learnt all dirty tricks of the street fighting of debating. Let me elaborate on the most important one.
    •  Ad-hominen (By far the worst)
    • Accusation by innuendo. (Refer  to the title of this post, it might have been written by you)
    • Changing the subject on difficult questions addressed to you.
    • Asking  your panellist to defend positions  they never made
    • Making mountains out of molehills
    • Making mountains into molehills
    • No serious attempt at finding a solution to anything

I think you are a smart person and am sure you know the damage you are causing. You see there seems  to be a certain  portion of our populace who think you are a “patriotic  journalist”. I think the journalist part is already covered and  I will leave the subject of being patriotic for another day. It needs a whole article by itself.

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