Why Speak When We can Scream?




There are very few things which can be highlighted as the common traits shared by Indians living in this country. The dialect spoken in the eastern most district and the western most district is not even similar. The sub cultures and beliefs are vividly different. But on a broad wavelength, we are all the same. One of those idiosyncrasies which unites us is the need to scream and fight. The intensity and frequency can differ. But there is no denying the form of rage which all Indians harbor.I live in Mumbai, the perfect example of that rage. This is not called a concrete jungle because of the buildings. It is because of the concrete animals which inhabit it. They are always angry. They are angry when I walk at a slow pace on the railway platform. They are angry at the fact that I have a body and not a mere floating head which could give space in the trains. They are bloodshot angry when you "almost" injure their vehicle. And often an accident is followed by physical violence. So then there is no surprise that the screaming Indian has taken solace in a person who does the same every night at 9.
Arnab Goswami. The two words which seem to define Indian Journalism since at least the past eight months. He is everywhere I go. The social conversations have him. The literary debates in the country bring up his name. He is spoofed online and in advertisements. This is not unusual. Edward R Murrow. Walter Cronkite. David Frost from the Frost/Nixon Interviews. Larry King. These are journalists, news anchors and interviewers who are still a part of American and Western Culture. They became larger or rather part of the news. But what disturbs me about the fame and claims of Arnab Goswami is the basis-the screaming or extortion of information along with the voicing of opinions which are not supposed to be relevant-The News Anchor himself.
The News Hour program involves a "debate". The News item of the day is supposed to be discussed by 6 or more parties. The News Anchor claims to act as the moderator while voicing his opinions then asking a question to a person for almost a minute. There is screaming, slinging of accusations, walkouts and chaos. This is not journalism sir. Journalism is removing your glasses and laughing when the Apollo 11 astronauts say they have landed on the moon. Journalism is fulfilling your duty by stating the news and time of John F. Kennedy's death and then taking a moment to cry on live television. That is Walter Cronkite for you. Journalism is getting Richard Nixon to admit his corruption of power as President of the United States. David Frost did that. Taking on the terror of John McCarthy and his anti-communism fervour by running stories which others wont.That is Edward R Murrow for you. He would often be alone on his show, talking about stories and opinions along with the truth. I can understand that Indians take time to grasp the United States issues. Let’s look at people we have known for so long. BBC has anchors whose voice cannot be heard by me. They are not whispering. It’s just that my Indian ear can no longer detect journalism unless it's shouted at me. I remember watching an almost 40 year old interview of Orson Welles on BBC. The conversation took place like two strangers meeting at a cafe. There was exchange of ideas and information in a tense free environment. Looking closer to home, only Karan Thapar gives me that impression. He is ruthless in his perseverance. He holds debates which are informative. He calls himself the Devil's Advocate because he knows journalism is getting the answers by whispering the truth rather than shouting one's opinions. Among all these names Mr Goswami, the only thing that you will be remembered for is getting Auto-Tuned on "Dented and Painted" with the President's son on YouTube.
I am disturbed by the news channel itself. Times Now prides on its exclusives and exposes. Then there is the regular release of TRPs and statistics about the channel and News Hour. It is true News Hour gets high viewership. The Reason? Entertainment. My father and I would watch Bigg Boss 2013. Yes I watched it. To understand the depths of human depravity and desperation displayed by the participants and the show's organisers. After the show ended in December, I see my father often watching News Hour. He often laughs watching it. An entertainment show ended and another one was found. We do not switch to News Hour thinking what important topic will be covered by Arnab. We are more interested in who will Arnab shout on today? Then there is the "Tweet News". "#NationalShame" or something similar is used to encapsulate the day’s events and hear viewer opinions. Is that what is left of journalism now? The self righteous tweet topics and opinions are broadcasted on repeat. I live in an eventful time. If God forbid, something were to happen to me, if I am reduced to a mere tweet with my name or the event which was responsible was made a tweet to garner TRP and public interest, I would be extremely furious. News is about real life events, not a trending topic.

The News Hour often professes this claim-"We are covering this, I don't care what other news channels are saying or talking about". I will tell you what other news channels are doing- they are showing 40-45 minutes of news in an hour with more and more commercials. Their anchors are stuttering and sometimes confused but atleast they get their guests to speak and debate. They are broadcasting some news but the ticker below is talking about another event. And every news channel is talking about the same thing including Times Now. Television Journalism is not great. Before the News Hour, the one program which I think many people would watch was "We the People" with Barkha Dutt. Debates about important and unheard stories were shown. I remember being upset when they took a hiatus for almost a year. Now We the People is back. But I am no longer a huge fan because after so many years of debates you realise that opinions and judgments do very little unless there is some action. And every Indian News Channel has failed to elicit the necessary action to bring about change.

I am just like you Mr Goswami. I am extremely opinionated and always function under the assumption that I am eternally right.That makes me a gigantic ass. But I do not deserve the job of a News Anchor. Neither do you. We are both in some ways like Howard Beale in "The Network" (1976). We deserve a variety show like him. We can call as many people we want and scream at them. We can make people laugh. We can be entertainment without the masquerade of news reporting.



                                 
My point is simple-"India Wants to Know" from the News Makers, NOT the News Reporters. You know what I call something where one person is speaking his mind and the rest are listening? College. To help you, here is the definition for Debate: A discussion in which reasons are advanced for and against some proposition or proposal/Argue with one another. I know how multi-talented you are and that you are capable with debating yourself, but India does NOT want to see that.
If you are not going to change (not surprising as things in India rarely do), may I suggest a tagline inspired by one of the most well written things ever to appear on screen, Game Of Thrones, to better market the News Hour?

 The News Hour with Arnab Goswami      
 If You Want Answers, You Have Come to the Wrong Place!

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