ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Manufacturing News

News studios have gradually become the site where news is "manufactured". Indeed, the very defi nition of "news" has changed as Indian television networks become increasingly promoter-driven. There are severe cutbacks in news gathering, reporters have been marginalised and the focus has shifted to studio-driven news presentations with outside "experts". From his perspective as a former television reporter, the writer analyses the current state of broadcast media.

The author thanks Rohan D’Souza, Sushil Aaron, Vibodh Parthasarathi, Urmilesh and Praful Bidwai, Dilip Simeon and Shalini Shekhar for their help with the article.

As a journalist associated with television broadcast news for the last two decades, how and where does one begin talking about television broadcast journalism? As both a participant and an avid consumer of news, lines blur easily, making it extremely difficult to find any sense of objectivity. But having “hung up my mike” in a manner of speaking, I believe the ringside view afforded to me both as a reporter and a desk hand privileges me with insights not easily available to the growing mass of critics and media sociologists struggling to make sense of prime time television – opinionated, loud, rude anchors, endless talking heads, studio-hopping experts, flashing graphics and even absurd soaked-in-theatre “live” visuals. All this is consumed by viewership, day after day, given the omnipresence of television in the intimacy of our living rooms.

A good starting point would be an observation made by the US regulatory authority, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which in a recent report said:

The Walter Cronkites and John Chancellors (both deceased, but widely accepted as America’s most credible TV journalists) are a dying breed. In many cases you don’t have journalists. You have performers.1

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