Sunday, February 26, 2012

Of journalistic 'perfection'

I have always had this blind spot about people not bothering to aim for perfection in what they do. The 'chalta hai' attitude is not only the bane of our society but also the hallmark of a man who does not respect himself. It is even less excusable in journalists, who are supposed to hold a mirror up to Society's imperfections.

Language is the main tool of journalism and, when a journalist shows himself as being inadequate in the usage of language, it seems to me that he does not hold his own job in high esteem. The most common error that people make in using English is when they use 'Many a times' and 'One of my friend' instead of 'Many a time' and 'One of my friends'! When journalists start using it the erroneous way, it seems to me that the English that I have been taught is all wrong...till I think of the logic that you dont use 'a' in front of a plural word and you can only have one out of many!

What took that cake for me was Arnab Goswami's performance when he compered the 'Calcutta Hour debate'. The debate was about whether the fact that Team Anna's goals were laudable justified the 'arm-twisting' of the Parliament. Goswami ends the debate by addressing this query to the audience - 'Does the means justify the end?'. Just to ensure that you did not think of it as a slip of the tongue, he repeated the query thrice. I have heard of the phrase 'Does the end justify the means?' but this was a new one on me. Seemed the sort of query asked of a person running over a drunk and claiming it happened because he was a law-abiding person, who could not stop his car in a 'No Parking' zone and, thus, chose to drive over the drunk!! Since the 'means' of driving on was law-abiding the 'end' of a dead drunk was justified!!

Rajdeep Sardesai went one better. When the Trinamul Congress did an about turn on support to the Lok Pal Bill, he kept saying that 'The Trinamul Congress has done a 360 degree turn'!! Even if his knowledge of English was insufficient to the task, his knowledge of Geometry should have told him that a 360 degree turn would leave you facing exactly the same way as before you did the turn and what you needed was a 180 degree turn. He probably thought that the more the degrees he added, the more heinous the act!!

As for basic home work on what they are reporting and attention to the news they were covering all channels failed abysmally on that day when the Lok Pal Bill was being voted on in Parliament. When Clause I of the Bill to give Constitutional status to the Lok Pal was passed, every channel declared victory for Rahul Gandhi, only to coolly retract it later when they found that it was merely a preliminary to the real Bill. Arnab Goswami and his panel of experts seemed to have scant idea that it required a two-thirds majority of those present and voting as well as fifty percent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha to pass a Constitutional amendment bill. When Sushma Swaraj pointed out that the Bill had not got fifty percent of the total strength of the Parliament, Goswami mis-interpreted it as meaning that less than fifty percent of the house was present and voting though the board was clearly showing total votes in excess of 400. His panel spent the next fifteen minutes castigating the floor management of the UPA government.

Seems to me that all you need to be a TV anchor or an expert panelist is the unmitigated gall to sit and pontificate gravely even with egg all over your face!!

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