Journalism #101: Lessons for Indian broadcasters from a Briton in America

Concomitant with the rise of the Right, India’s brain-dead TV news channels have offered the platform to the most communal, incendiary, racist viewpoints in the last four years, on a host of issues designed to pot of polarisation boiling.

In the absence of editorial discretion, or possibly because of it, all manner of wackos, from representatives of “cultural organisations” to tilak-toting babas and beard-stroking mullahs, have managed to say stuff beyond the pale of civility.

All this is passed off in name of “balancing the debate”, as if there can be “another side” to the cold-blooded killing of human beings in the name of a mutant, militant version of a great religion. Or the disenfranchisement of a vast mass of voiceless people.

Result 1: Normalisation of the abnormal, as the former TV presenter Sashi Kumar said in an excellent speech earlier this year.

Result 2: Communalisation of the discourse: the writer Paul Zacharia declared recently that the “most of the communal agendas were mostly set by the media”.

Result 3: Poison in the pool from which we all drink. Venom in the water supply. And a astonishing spurt of meanness and vengeance.

Much of what is happening to politics and the media in India is mirrored in the United States, but with a key difference: news organisations have stood up to the threats, intimidations, and tax terrorism and told the freaks where to eff off.

In this excellent Channel 4 video, the Guardian writer Gary Younge stands up to the ace idiot, Richard Spencer and shows that good journalism demands that we don’t just provide a platform for the bizarre, but question, question, question.

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