Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why I stopped following Newslaundry

That the English news media is compromised and partisan is no surprise to anyone. In fact, an actual word - presstitute - has been coined to describe the sort of work that alleged journalists these days are up to. In such a world, the true capitalist's answer would be to have a media house dedicated to keeping tabs on the media itself - and that was what Newslaundry was supposed to be. I remember the time when it did some excellent interviews of journalists - Karan Thapar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, and their ilk - and asked some really tough questions, so much so that Mr. Thapar could be seen trying his best to keep his cool when confronted with his own style of journalism.

Alas, those days are long gone. I recently stopped following Newslaundry, for two reasons. One, they were simply not doing what they were supposed to do i.e., keeping a tab on the media. Instead, it had become another media house in itself (more on that), and others like OpIndia.com actually did a much better job than Newslaundry at holding the media up to the high standards of truth and equanimity. Two, having become a media house itself, its quality degraded precipitously, for which I squarely blame Abhinandan Sekhri.

It's not that I disagree with Mr. Sekhri's political views (I do) - I don't mind listening to a logical argument that I disagree with. The problem is quality. Consider the tweet I posted on top, part of the #NLprimetime initiative of live-tweeting a running commentary of prime time news (English language news, to be precise). While it might seem like a good idea to some, to me it looks like low-quality, illogical trolling. Not just the specific tweet itself, but the entire idea. Far from holding up journalists to a standard, this initiative is akin to wallowing in mud with a pig. And that's not all - from the choice of topics in NL Hafta podcasts to the tone and tenor of interviews, Mr. Sekhri comes across as a very poor journalist who wears his bias on his sleeve.

Add to that the newest troll on the Newslaundry block, Akash Banerjee, who did a 'Why so Serious?' series that was just plain trolling passing off as an op-ed, and you can only cringe at every new thing that they did. Of course, they did have some good journalists like Madhu Trehan and the redoubtable Anand Ranganathan (who I was fortunate to have a discussion with over Twitter about scientific temperament). But one bad apple spoils the basket, and Sekhri and Banerjee are as bad as they get.

I'll let Rahul Roushan have the last word, and express my sorrow at seeing a good forum like Newslaundry degrade into garbage.


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