When enough isn’t quite enough
November 30, 2008
This is about NDTV. By association, it is about all news channels.
I ached for a good fight when the time for asking questions began. But which media man asks questions designed to get honest replies? The interview with the Pakistan representative in Delhi two nights ago, when Pranoy Roy threw open the floor to Srinivasan Jain, Barkha Dutt and Vikram Chandra, contained just one question – by Chandra – that was combative. Barkha spoke loudly and dramatically, an illusion of gravitas, but said nothing. Jain channeled his inner Siddharth Dhanwant Shanghvi during his interview with A N Roy: “Sir, you have a lump in your throat.” Today an anchor questioned a Congress minister about Shivraj Patil, to which the minister said something tricky about not blaming any one person because, and I freaking quote, “The entire party is to blame, the BJP is to blame, the whole country is to blame.” I wanted to kick my television, but the thing’s brand new. No, I thought, the whole country isn’t to blame. How the f*** can you even say that? What do you mean? But the anchor didn’t share my feelings. He actually went on the defensive. No counter-questions, nothing that gave the minister pause. And this is what I don’t get. I understand that NDTV, as a channel, are afraid to lose access. But if you don’t ask tough questions now, when is the right time? You waste one opportunity after another even as politicians line up to talk, even as people tune in to listen. Instead of attacking the minister for his statement, the anchor was apologetic. If access is the ultimate thing, so much so that it prevents a newsman from doing what’s right, then he’s clearly not in the business of journalism. I’m afraid “Enough is enough” is a great slogan for the campaign that will no doubt follow, but NDTV certainly doesn’t behave like it has had enough.