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What Ruined TV Journalism For Us: Tracing The Journey From DD News To Republic TV

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Indian television has perhaps gone through an evolution of change over the past few years. From the era of DD News to private channels and now online journalism, the news formats have seen multiple shifts.

Going Down In History: Entry Of India’s First Private News Channel, Asianet

Continuing his legacy of firsts, Sashi Kumar, the man behind India’s first private TV news channel, was the first national English newsreader at Delhi Doordarshan Kendra. He started his channel in 1993, following the model of Ted Turner and his idea behind behind CNN; both cable and TV channel.

Down south, Asianet, Sun TV, Eenadu used to run news and current affairs until the entry of Star-News into the market as a 24×7 news channel in the year 1998. In 1991-92, as we recovered from the economic crisis, a TV revolution took off with its news channels. Prannoy Roy’s ‘The World This Week’ (DD National) and ‘The News Tonight’ (DD2), and SP Singh’s Aaj Tak took things beyond our expectations of the format, and ignored the government’s style of news bulletins. These programmes introduced us to the new era of News.

From being familiar with faces of newsreaders, such as Salma Sultan, this shift in TV journalism introduced the TV audience to fresh faces: Barkha Dutt, Rajat Sharma and Rajdeep Sardesai, who etched a mark in this rising era of journalism in India.

The early years of DD news

The Revolution: Introduction Of 24×7 Breaking News

Before the introduction of 24×7 breaking news channels, there existed news broadcast platforms including All India Radio, DD News and others. The 24-hour pattern of consistent media reporting started with the coming up of digital TV slots committed to news. This increased the pace and frequency of news creation, with an increasing interest for stories that could be played nonstop with steady refreshing content.

For instance. the OJ Simpson murder case in 1994 and 1995 made it to the 24-hour breaking news reporting and introduced the time of link news. This was a differential step towards the consistent pattern of media reporting that was being printed by newspapers every day. This obsession with faster and more-detailed news would only increase further with the advent of online news.

A consistent pattern of 24×7 media reporting comprises of the news channels first giving an account of an event, followed by reporters investigating a varied response by the public. The coming of the 24-hour link and satellite TV news stations and, in later occasions, of news on the internet (including web journals) significantly abbreviated this cycle.

This was the beginning of the great war of being the first to ‘break’ the news and create the buzz. Over time, things have only got more competitive and made channels sprint towards increasing their TRPs and maximising their profit. Most of the time, this race forces these news channels to source content just to ignite the fire of hatred, anger and biasness against a community based on caste, creed, gender and colour.

Today Vs Tomorrow Of TV Journalism

Today, this competitive race has led to new broadcast channels being launched almost every day, with the commitment of showing pure news in the interest of viewers. Digging deep, one may find that most of these organisations are owned and run by chit-fund owners, industrialists, builders or political investors. As soon as the clock strikes eight in the evenings, our TV screens get divided into eight segments, representative of a chaotic battlefield, where wars are declared over irreconcilable issues of ideology, caste, creed and religion.

Image from a debate being carried out by journalist Arnab Goswami on his news channel Republic TV

On one hand, the advent of TV journalism gave a voices to unheard issues that had never been discussed on public platforms and hence, could never reach the masses. Incidents such as the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits due to communal tension in Kashmir could never reach the masses before these private TV channels came about. “I was 20 years old when this incident happened. I barely have any memory of the incident, and I only remember hearing about it. I was not aware of the gravity of this incident that had taken place that year. According to me, DD News was just a simple source of facts and information. It was only one-way communication and allowed no citizen to participate or voice out their opinion,” quoted a citizen.

TV journalism opened up a sky for opinions, discussions and arguments. It gave a loud voice to all those issues of our country that we had experienced over the years but could never talk about openly, including women’s issues, rapes, poverty, corruption and so on. But over time, the same news channels have started running a blind race of profit and TRPs, trying to target for a 24-hour cycle of content. This has not only degraded the content, but also affected the process of building and shaping society.

The journey that began in 1993 that changed the way people used to look at their 55-inch screen, and used to unite over shows including The Mahabharata and The Ramayana are now just serving the purpose of watching sports. Besides that, it is nothing more than an idiotic box.

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  1. Rhythm S Sharma

    Well written

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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