Yesterday, I happened to catch a little bit of Fareed Zakaria interviewing James Baker on CNN. I don't know much about US politics (hell I don’t know too much about Indian politics) and to be honest, I am not hugely interested in it either (Yes, sometimes I do live up to the femme stereotype of not being turned on by politics or high finance.).
Anyways I digress, in-spite of this general lukewarm interest and all that, I still paid more attention to this show, then I have ever been tempted to pay to any of our local media friends - whether it’s the Banshee Murkha or Demented Dazedeep or obstreperous Earnumb (*any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental) .
Mr. Zakaria is certainly an Indian albeit has probably been bred in foreign media climes. As are the BDE and their ilk – so why is there such a stark, almost cultural difference in reporting?
The former is almost statesman-like in his dignity, yet incisive and intelligent in the way he handles his programme, and his guests. He talks yes, but more than that he allows his guests to state their view. If he disagrees, he does so politely, and precisely. He does not try and outshout them to get the point across. He certainly does not try and force feed his opinions and gets the guest to change his/her stance. The latter, well the less said about them the better, loud hysteria, aggressive confrontational tactics, music, melodrama.
The new-casters are no longer just vessels that convey news – blandly as in the
Komal G.B. Singh era. They have become dramatis personae in their own right, a one actor play and the newsroom is the stage. That’s the only way one can explain the fact that in one half an hour segment with six panellists, the host newscaster monopolizes, nay, outshouts and corners the stage for at least 20 minutes. And they also seem to have acquired the eccentricities and temperamental tantrums of the prima donnas in the bargain. (The knee jerk and far from sophisticated response to criticism which we have witnessed in the last couple of years – is a testament to that fact).
The interesting question is what has caused this transition.
I refuse to believe that THIS is something which is desired by the audience – almost everyone I know off cringes at the sledge hammer tactics adopted by them. Almost everyone I know has scant respect for their opinions, their reportage or their interviewing and news casting skills.
Is it the curse of the 24/7 reporting which louder volumes are equated with more eyeballs – again, a difficult hypothesis to swallow – BBC/CNN and others have had continuous coverage for years – and no, I still haven’t seen any of them prancing around hysterically yet.
I had written a post some time back on the overall dumbing down of television because of a shift in the audience profile – but somehow that argument is difficult in the context of the news. Yes, the internet is a big part of it, but for most of us, the television is still remains a very important medium for news.
The only thing which perhaps hints of an explanation is that it is symptomatic of the nouveau Indian attempting to shake off years of under-dog-hood by loud belligerence – where aggression is mistaken for assertiveness, and cacophony for confidence.
It’s a pity that the so called intelligentsia of the fourth estate have to also resort to that stereotype.
Edit Note: There is some hajaar chaos happening in life right now, which is why I have been and will probably continue to be so irregular ( blogging/commenting). please to excuse ( archives, archives!).