From the Viewsroom

Symbols of the rot

Poornima Joshi | Updated on January 26, 2021 Published on January 26, 2021

Time journalists called out the corruption unearthed by the TRP scam

Details of the WhatsApp chats between former CEO of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) Partho Dasgupta and Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami that the Mumbai police have filed along with a 3,400-page supplementary chargesheet in the scam to rig TRPs for manipulation of advertising are symbolic of the rot that is primetime television news. The salacious parts involve rival anchors who are variously called “utter fool”, “ass”, “top-to-bottom fake”, etc. But the more serious bits display the utter absence of integrity, a total contrast between what these individuals actually think and what they peddle as news and opinion that influences the people. In one chat, they are shown to use colourful descriptions about the bad state of the economy and how the late Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is the “biggest failure”. But in an after-primetime show, however, this celebrity anchor has talked about how the economy is “booming” and how, post-pandemic, India is headed for a “V-shaped recovery”.

Most disturbing, however, are the chats describing the Pulwama attack in February 2019 in which 40 soldiers died. “This attack, we have won like crazy,” Goswami allegedly tells Dasgupta, excitedly describing how the channel scored well on a day when 40 soldiers lost their lives. And this is the biggest champion of hyper-nationalism who brands the opposition, Rahul Gandhi, “liberal” media, writers, academics, activists, lawyers as “anti-national”, some of whom have been jailed on serious charges after systematic and toxic campaigns that he has run over the years. Lives and reputations have been destroyed because of his daily toxic emissions disguised as news.

For all the professional bodies and the majority of journalists who are not part of this rot, it is time for serious reflection and censure of what is not journalism. While rival luminaries on TV have seized the moment and are firing on all cylinder, gleefully exhibiting their own professional piety by way of self-introspection, would there be a moment when real journalists step in to underline that a journalist is never the story. Can we at least take a step away from the ‘I, me, myself’ disease and tackle the corruption within?

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Published on January 26, 2021
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