From the Viewsroom

Television tantrums

Venky Vembu | Updated on January 16, 2018

Jignesh Mevani’s blackballing of a TV channel is problematic

Come 9 pm every day, the high-decibel hypartisanship and hectoring of studio guests that passes for television journalism constitute, for the most part, a disgrace to the profession. In their quest for TRP ratings, celebrity TV anchors — some more than others — have elevated shrillness of tone and manufactured outrage to a performance art with their inquisitorial, even prosecutorial, rhetoric. Nuance has no place in this parallel universe; nor is there even a pretence of objectivity in the nightly slang-fest that evidently caters to the lowest common denominator of television audiences. The toxicity afloat on the airwaves is manifestly contagious, going by the virulent spread of the disease to many more channels.

For anyone who is genuinely concerned about the dire state of journalism, this is disquieting at several levels. Yet, responding in the way that the newly elected MLA from Gujarat, Jignesh Mevani, did in Chennai on Tuesday — by asking for the microphone of Republic TV channel to be removed as a condition for his addressing a press conference on the sidelines of an event — is also problematic. Strikingly, the press corps in Chennai stood in solidarity with their disbarred colleague from the Republic, and the press conference was eventually cancelled.

However much Mevani, the firebrand Dalit leader, may feel he has been wronged by the channel’s propagandistic style, a demand such as the one he made reflects an equally disturbing imperiousness that ill-befits an elected representative, especially one who is being projected as personifying the future of Indian politics. Any accredited journalist is entitled to attend a press conference, and to seek to keep out a media outlet from such an event — on the grounds of perceptions about its lack of professionalism — is to slide down a slippery slope. That some activists who claim to stand for liberal values are applauding Mevani’s stand points to a perversion of the idea of liberalism. Television journalism as it is practised today may be grievously flawed, but the remedy does not lie in arbitrary abridgment of the cardinal principle of press freedom.

Associate Editor

Published on January 16, 2018

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor