Telescope: Our daily outrage

Participants on general news channels behave like grizzlies with high blood pressure. Business channels are an oasis of calm.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Updated: July 23, 2015 4:45 am

Nidhi Razdan surveyed all before her and then looked the viewer in the eye: “Tomorrow will bring more of the same,” she promised/ warned, and you wanted to thump the table the way they do in Parliament and shout the way they do in Parliament: D… right! (NDTV 24×7)

In Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, there’s a veritable “monsoon storm” (ET Now) of words from our honourable members of Parliament, reminiscent of the monsoon sessions of 2013 and 2012. Our distinguished representatives delight in kicking up a storm at the same time — just like panellists during TV studio discussions each night. When you listen to either you cannot distinguish one word from the other, just as you cannot tell one drop of rain from another.

Journalist Neerja Chowdhury observed that the BJP and Congress use the same language in their respective roles: when the BJP was in opposition it employed the very tactics now being deployed by the Congress (NDTV India). Ditto during TV news debates. You may ask the chicken-and-egg question: Which one came first? Did members of Parliament storm in and out of the House before or after TV news channels’ nightly downpour? Yes, of course. However, the daily jousting on TV news, where everyone shouts, not in order to be heard, but to not allow others that luxury, has certainly honed our MPs’ skills in the art of the filibuster.

MPs can tune into Times Now on any evening and attend free classes: three or more panelists will be at each others’ throats, yelling their guts out, whatever be the issue. This week they would have been disappointed to miss out on tips from Professor Arnab Goswami, who has been replaced by two anchors on The Newshour — clearly that is what it takes to fill his boots.

The master has a worthy pupil in Rahul Shivshankar (News X). You ought to have listened to him with eyes closed on Tuesday. He was outraged by the non-parliamentary behaviour of our representatives in Parliament: “420 minutes have been wasted,” he declaimed. “Rs 10 crore, 50 lakh — that’s what it costs.” In the remaining 90 minutes, all our MPs did was “score political points”. Shivshankar took out
his hand, wagged the forefinger: “Doesn’t the nation deserve better? We’ll be asking hard questions…’’

A funny thing happens on NDTV India. Our usual suspects, including politicians like Sambit Patra (BJP) and Sanjay Nirupam (Congress), who drench each other in words to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning, appear like a calm sky on a clear day on Ravish Kumar’s show. They listen to him and to the others politely, silently and only speak when asked to.

So too on business news channels. They are more propah than Queen Elizabeth II. Everything is conducted with becoming decorum. Even when it is a “bad day for the market”, as it was on Monday, the anchors smile sweetly (CNBC-TV18). You feel the clouds lift. A discussion on the monsoon session of Parliament on Bloomberg was informative and measured. No one spoke out of turn or longer than necessary, except for the anchor. A newsbreak on ET Now regarding the goods and services tax panel report was clearly explained and followed up by immediate reactions from experts (Monday). The objective on business channels appears to be to provide news and information with analysis in good, simple English — even though the jargon can be a Sudoku puzzle.

So while our parliamentarians and participants on general news channels behave like grizzly bears with high blood pressure, the business channels are truly bullish. Why not watch them instead?

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  1. A
    Jul 23, 2015 at 9:29 pm
    Enjo reading the piece. FUn but insightful. Was just watching the Congress spokesperson who kept referring to the PM as 'your Prime Minister'. You wonder where they live. She did not address any of the questions put to her by Mr Goswami. I guess Mr M J Akbar had to be infinitely patient in dealing with her aggression.
    1. H
      Jul 25, 2015 at 10:43 am
      Excellent article. Arnab of Times Now seems to take pride in the criticism he keeps getting.My son aged 6 years can't understand why the grown up people fight...for him news channels mean lots of screaming at each other. Anyway they seem (the news channels with their high decibel anchors)to be the parliament, the investigative agencies and the judiciary.....Its time the news channels get back to being dignified.
      1. S
        Jul 23, 2015 at 10:33 am
        You have yourselves answered the question. The blame lies squarely on the anchors for whom Arnob has unfortunately become the benchmark. The anchors set the agenda, drive discussions to the lowest possible levels and are the biggest grizzly bears. Left to themselves, the politicians are a lot more decent. The journalists rabid hatred for Modi is taking the country to dogs.
        1. S
          Jul 23, 2015 at 11:12 pm
          Somehow first 6 months of Government showed at least some cases Government was very proactive, On their own they made a change or two in the union cabinet. They also drew a red line on Hurriyat. But now many of the new issues, Government should handle it more proactively. In Vyapam, there is no clarity and it was strange that even courts seem to have not taken it seriously till recently. We still have law and order issues that need reforms. Witnesses getting attacked and police acting in criminal fashion need some systemic changes. India should not be a soft state.