Attacked, Assaulted, Abused’. Times Now was spot on with its headline and its on-the-spot report on journalist Amit Sharma, a stringer for News 24, who was allegedly beaten up and, worse, humiliated by GRP personnel while covering a story.
Wednesday morning, the channel repeatedly telecast a video of the journalist behind bars at a police station while in the foreground a policeman looks around, almost nonchalant and indifferent.
Rewind to Tuesday: the Supreme Court ordered that Prashant Kanojia, a journalist, be released on bail after the Uttar Pradesh police strolled into his Delhi premises and walked out with him – for a tweet regarding a video about UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The video was also aired on a news channel. The channel head and editor were also arrested.
Once again, Times Now nailed the headline: ‘#YogiMustExplain’ what exactly is going on in Ulta Pradesh (oh dear, will this land me in jail, too?) that he feels compelled to put journalists behind bars? Is that his only answer to their questions?
Times Now might like to ask a few questions of its reporters, in this instance, of the correspondent who spoke on the discovery of the AN-32 aircraft wreckage. He almost wrecked their ‘Breaking News’ exclusive Tuesday afternoon — yes, it was the first channel to report the sighting of the remains of the plane – with his incoherent report. First, he said the Indian Air Force was still to confirm the news; then he said sources have confirmed that IAF has confirmed the news – so, which was it?
He then speculated on the fate of those onboard the flight – “if they have survived or something…” – something everyone was “hoping and praying for…”. Next, he informed us that the crash site in Siang district, Arunachal Pradesh, was close to the China border, adding in ominous tones, “we cannot rule out anything…”. Whatever do you think he meant?
Other news channels confirmed the Times Now report, a little later. Republic’s ‘Editor Live’ gave us a detailed weather report and description of the terrain where the aircraft had fallen. Almost ruling out any survivors, he then said that after eight days, there’s a “very remote chance” of survival. Got it?
When the International Cricket Council (ICC) ruled that M.S. Dhoni could not sport his Balidaan gloves during the World Cup, the gloves came off in the news studios.
Going by the attacks on the ICC that followed, there was a very remote chance that India would pull out of the World Cup – or else, go to war against cricket’s governing body. ‘India Stands with Dhoni’ (CNN News18), ‘India with Dhoni’ (Times Now) echoed earlier battle cries like ‘India with Jawans’ during the Pulwama attack in February. The atmosphere became so thick with nationalism that we almost expected to see India Today’s Gaurav Sawant wearing Balidaan gloves in the TV studio.
It took Sunil Gavaskar, former cricketer and current cricket commentator, to defend the ICC’s decision as stoutly as he once did his wicket: what is important about Dhoni’s gloves is how well he keeps wicket, he said, all matter-of-fact, on Aaj Tak. “What has this got to do with nationalism? Kaun sa nationalism?”
That put an abrupt end to a completely unnecessary controversy about nothing, especially since Dhoni turned out for the India-Australia game, Sunday, in gloves without the Balidaan insignia.
Sunday. At least two English women had breathed in the nationalistic fervour. So, when News18 India and ABP said, ‘Jeetega toh India hi’, they chanted “India jee-te-gaa” (ABP).
Regardless of who won, news channels knew they were on the winning side with non-stop coverage of the World Cup all of Sunday— it was ‘Clash of the Titans’ (Times Now) or ‘Clash of champions’ (Tiranga), ‘Lord of Lords’ (India Today) or ‘Lords of Cricket’ (Wion).
Each channel had stationed a reporter in London, outside The Oval cricket stadium, to listen to Indians sing, dance and behave like they do in India – ‘Josh High’ explained Zee Hindustan.
The carnival of cricket continued in the studios – WION had singer Shailendra Singh perform a cricket song for the team, News18 India had the audience dance to the beat of dholaks.
There were also enough former cricketers in different studios to get together and form a team, although not as well balanced as Virat’s XI: Kapil Devi, Virender Sehwag and Sandeep Patil (ABP), Azharuddin, Madan Lal and Harbhajan Singh from London in a very dashing leather jacket (AajTak), Sachin Tendulkar (India Today), Syed Kirmani and Anshuman Gaekwad (India News), Chetan Sharma in a waistcoat (News 24), Rohan Gavaskar and Anil Kumble (CNN News18).
Their comments? Well, Kumble spoke like a self-help guru: “Be positive”, he told Team India, “you don’t want a negative mindset”.
Chetan Sharma got it all wrong: win the toss, bowl first and fast, win in chasing. The opposite happened – India batted first and won.
From the field of play, here are two nuggets: when Mahendra Singh Dhoni went out to bat, the camera looked heavenwards – and lo and behold, a helicopter hovered over him (truthfully), urging him, no doubt, to play his famous shot named after it.
And though there was a sea of blue in the stands, we did see yellow jerseys at the World Cup – not at The Oval in London but in France where Italy played Australia at the women’s soccer World Cup Sunday. And guess what? Australia lost that game too, 2-1.