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Blaring out their own tunes

Blaring out their own tunes
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Why do you have these anchors or moderators who do not understand what they are reflecting upon now-a-days on your Telugu channels?-' bemoaned a...

Why do you have these anchors or moderators who do not understand what they are reflecting upon now-a-days on your Telugu channels?" bemoaned a senior politician the other day. Being in no mood to entertain his view on the state of affairs of Telugu journalism, I just shrugged off the question and deflected the conversation on to his turf - politics. My ignorance of TV journalism, more so that of Telugu journalism being abysmal, I felt I had no place in the discussion.

Later, in hindsight, I was wondering whether he was asking me "how can one be an anchor and still talk sense?" He was not suggesting to me that our channel guys cannot talk sense. Rather, it is possible to talk sense despite being an anchor, he was saying. That is one of the positives, I convinced myself.

To talk sense or to comment sensibly, the anchor must first have the qualification that would enable him or her to do so. Secondly, inclination is required and thirdly a fierce determination to talk sense. Of course, this applies to every one in every walk of life, including the learned political friends.

What are the qualifications needed to this end? Potentially, any one anchoring a certain debate or programme should know the subject. The world has become complex and the political, social and economic issues on all levels have become more complex.

An anchor must inform the public of the basic aspects the channel’s viewers should know. This makes the right educational qualifications a pre-requisite. It is not about formal qualifications that we are talking about. But, it IS certainly not enough that one reads the morning news papers and updates oneself constantly on the "latest, breaking" news over agency copy or watching other channels.

A public speaker is better placed in this matter as he or she has the advantage of sensing the public mood or reaction instantly unlike the moderator who sits in the studio with four of five of "learned men" invited to the talk-show to air their learned views.

The half-an-hour or one hour bulletin or discussion hour interspersed with its advertisement content leaves not much time for a conclusive informed debate any way. Hence, this usually results in a cacophony and disagreements and bitter arguments leaving the viewer amazed or stunned and the poor chap, left with no other option, is, at best left ruing his fate, as his or her choice is limited. (The problem is more acute if it is the prime time show).

Coming to the judgments, mostly pre-judgments which could safely be termed as prejudices, are at best opinions which are passed off as 'informed opinions.' The primary duty of those in a position to hold their viewers to ransom rests here. How do you inform your readers or viewers without knowing whether your sources are right or wrong?

Sometimes the sources could be just 'hearsay' or 'slanted' to please someone's interests whom they serve or just simple and plain 'a habitually misinformed person. How do you judge and verify?

Here is where the question of qualification steps in. The background of the anchor, experience and training would help one avoid the subjective element in empowering the viewer with the information that is requisite in an appraisal of the same.

It is a long time that I have come across any anchor who would say, while placing the information in the public domain, ' this appears to me to be so, as the oft asserted comment is "this is the fact." The problem with not just Telugu anchors but also the prized English ones is that they just talk at the viewers and also at those who are on their panels for the show, but they do not communicate. As a common man I do not understand how could any talk-show convey anything minimal or substantial to the ones' watching the same if there is no communication with the viewer?

The air-time available is very insignificant to present a view-point with all facts and supporting documenting and evidence. So why present anything as a judgment at all as it could be fallible. Secondly, despite all the care one takes, there is another serious pitfall when the anchor mixes up one's political knowledge or science with his own political morality or philosophy.

This is not to say that talking sense is impossible, though, it is difficult. Take for example the case of the two Chief Ministers' of Telugu States. Be it N Chandrababu Naidu or K Chandrasekhar Rao, both have their compulsions. They too have their deadlines just as any other anchors. Hence, they try to convince people, i.e., their voters through their communicative skills. Suppose any anchor wants to judge them, how should it be done?

Naidu's job is simple. He has to build, from the scratch. He does not have an industry to boast off, a Capital to function from or jobs to offer to his unemployed. Agrarian economy has its seasonal problems aplenty. He has to depend on several props to keep the people's spirit high.

He has to sustain them on a feed of grand design, dream and goal. He has to constantly divert their attention from the ground realities and hence takes help of every opportunity to engage them positively. He hypes their dreams, images, ideas, emotions, and sensations every time. If his governance is run as a successful soap opera and looks like an event management, one cannot blame him.Construction is his only job.

Turn your attention to Chandrashekar Rao now. His job is far more complicated. While, Naidu's job is construction, Rao's job also includes destruction. KCR has to demolish several things, myths and lore including. KCR's is the first government after the formation of the new State.

He fought for the Statehood opposing non-Telanganites' domination in every sphere including politics, culture and art. People loved him and voted him for a change. He has to bring this change to every sphere, otherwise, he will go down the history as any other CM.

Hence, he talks of a new secretariat, new waterfront around Hussain Sagar, double bed room houses (as against the one room tenements built by the past rulers), smaller districts and tries to replace the cultural imagery with local histories and folklore to remind people of the past glory of Telangana. That is his mandate – reinventing Telangana to the satisfaction of the locals. He has to firmly establish the roots of Telangana in all areas apart from developing the State.

Development for KCR is an administrative issue and he knows how to take care of it. There he is is all for decentralization. The advantage in this process is that he could afford to be transparent in it and he thrives on it. He need not hype his governance as his counterpart does.

Chandrababu Naidu, whereas, has to constantly refurbish his image, float new ideas, explore new vistas and establish a new order. He does not have to do the other half of the job that KCR is addressing. As a consequence, he harps on Andhra pride in nudging people to lap up his grandiose designs more than any.

This leads to the rhetoric and ritual of governance getting mired in an unwarranted secrecy sometimes.Therefore, to judge either's rule one may perhaps have to keep a tab on all these issues to even make a perfunctory comment. Yet, day in and out, our channels blare out their own tunes in keeping with their interests. To me this effort appears to be not substantiated by facts.

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