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So, where's the news?

Friend, colleague and fellow mid-day columnist Ranjona Banerji finds Rajya Sabha TV the sanest. Although decibel values are in order at RS TV, the discussions aren’t exactly what I could call invigorating. On the other hand, Lok Sabha TV is even more boring.

As for DD News, the less said the better. The newsroom — and we don’t need Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sarcar to tell us about it — decisions are possibly taken at Shastri Bhavan or wherever else the mantriji exists. Which of course leaves us with the various private channels, their bosses— and/or — editors and their whims and fancies.

I still remember that as a kid I would watch Siddharth Kak, Sarita Sethi, Luku Sanyal on Bombay DD and later Tejeshwar Singh, Salma Sultan and the like reading out the news and subjecting us to a load of government bull. But, heck, I learnt most of my history and geography (and the oh-so-boring civics) from what was dished out. Every setting up of a Doordarshan Kendra or transmitter took me to my Oxford School Atlas wanting to dig in about the place.

I maintain that whatever little bit of Marathi and Gujarati I know was thanks to the ‘baatmaya’ (news in Marathi) and the cultural shows Gajra and Aavo Maari Sathey. I watched the news on Doordarshan because it was informative and the only AV stuff that one could get in Mumbai.

There was of course the news on All India Radio by Devki Nandan Pandey and Lotika Ratnam. And Surajit Sen.

Yesterday, as I was tuning my car audio player I chanced upon the Marathi news on AIR. In the last 24 hours, save the newspapers, I haven’t found a more enlightening source of news as the Akashvani samachar.

I often wonder why have all news channels adopted the in-studio discussion format at primetime. While debates lead to some sound and fury and possibly better ratings, there’s got to be a way out of the mess we are in. The news channels must also give us news. Not a tough ask, wot?

Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it. Twitter: @pmahesh
E: noose@pman.in

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