What Dhoni’s whiplash should teach the Indian media

After India’s thrilling one run win over Bangladesh in the ongoing T20 World Cup, millions of us watched with great relish as M S Dhoni lashed out at a so called “reporter”:

Dhoni minced no words: he told the reporter upfront that his tone suggested that he was quite simply unhappy about India winning. A direct, upfront attack on the reporter’s patriotism and in the unkindest cut of all, he said that cricket games have no “script”. It was crystal clear what Dhoni left unsaid: the press has a script, but cricket games don’t!

This post is not simply about this one incident and how much I enjoyed it. It is about something deeper that has changed in the public perception of the media…why did Dhoni feel safe enough to go after the media like that and why did so many people enjoy it so much? Quite simply, I want to tell the mainstream media: your golden days in India are over. There has been a drastic collapse in the prestige of mainstream media among the public. What triggered it: whether it was the rise of the internet, the social media, or quite simply changing times, is for people to analyze. But this is the fact. The Indian mainstream media is facing a crisis of credibility among the ordinary public.

I am a believer in the theory that at any point of time, there is always a power struggle happening between institutions: the political class, the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the media, the “civil” society to occupy the moral high ground. Whenever one group perceives a loss of credibility of another, it tries to push in and occupy the high space. In the early years after independence, the political class (rightly or wrongly) in general occupied a moral high ground. Then, 50 years of misgovernance and corruption drastically reduced the prestige of the political class. In a generic sense, the words “neta” and “politician” became words of abuse, almost synonymous with corruption and crime. In modern India, you can say almost anything against “politicians” and get away with it. I remember an episode of Aap ki Adaalat, widely shared on Youtube, where a random woman in the crowd screams at Digvijay Singh: “All you politicians are just hungry for money and looting the public”. I despise Digvijay Singh, but that is not the point here. The point here is that this random woman received loud cheers from the crowd for making such a sweeping statement against an entire group of people. Why? Not every politician is corrupt. But the general image of “politicians” is so poor that you can say almost anything against them as a group and get away with it.

I am not sympathizing with politicians here. I am only stating facts. In fact, politicians have only themselves to blame for there terrible image. And with politicians losing the moral high ground completely, others stepped in to claim that space: judiciary, bureaucracy, media and “civil society”. All of these groups are equally corrupt, but they simply took advantage of the situation. This is what I mean by a power struggle. The judiciary, in particular, got away with taking several decisions that are quite frankly undemocratic. But they got away with it because people think so poorly of politicians that they ended up looking up to the judiciary for these undemocratic decisions.

From 1990-2007 or so, the media in India had its golden days. The collapse in prestige of politicians allowed media to claim a moral high ground. In the 90s, Shekhar Suman starred on the hugely popular Doordarshan serial “Reporter”, which would show an honest journalist taking on the “system”. There were similar widely popular shows like “Waqt ki Raftar” showing an honest newspaper fighting the “system”. Shows like those were possible back then because the public at that time had come to see the media as a “noble profession”. Shows like those would be impossible today because no one would find them believable. Today, the same entertainment channels show “news reporters” at best as brainless idiots senselessly asking “Aap ko kaisa lag raha hai” (How do you feel?) to random people. The media today is just as corrupt  as it was in the 90s, just that the public perception has changed. And when I see ABP News and Aaj Tak reporters desperately trying to pretend that someone still sees the media as a force for good, I can only laugh.

I wonder if the media knows this new reality. The Dhoni episode should ring alarm bells for the media. People are now taking great joy in watching the humiliation of a random journalist. It is very important to note that most people including me don’t know the identity of the journalist who received the lashing from Dhoni. We don’t know who he was, or who he worked for, or what was his agenda. And yet the public enjoyed the humiliation of a generic mediawallah, just as the public would enjoy the humiliation of a generic politician by an angry crowd. Does media understand what this means? This means that the public in general now associates media with lies and corruption, like politicians. The credibility of the media is now in the toilet. It is an alarming new reality to which the mainstream media has not fully woken up yet.

Perhaps they (the media) have some inkling of what’s going on. Here is Bikram Vohra in Firstpost noticing what happened:

There used to be time not so long ago when the media was the watchdog for the public and stood by its own tribe. Now, it is dog eat dog….Compare that to the MS Dhoni response to a pretty tame question from the press after the India-Bangladesh match in Bengaluru. It wasn’t so offensive and the Dhoni response seemed out of line. Whatever his reasons for losing it and snapping back about the reporter not being happy with the Indian win, the sad part is that none of his colleagues backed him.

(http://www.firstpost.com/sports/dhoni-can-lose-his-temper-but-it-is-about-the-media-maintaining-its-collective-dignity-2695514.html)

And why couldn’t the media stand up for one of its own? Bikram Vohra knows:

Dhoni is on the cutting edge of popularity today and cannot be critiqued, which is fair enough and any comment will provoke a howl of protest, but it isn’t about Dhoni at all. Celebs can lose their tempers, huff off, be rude, even downright offensive, it is about the media maintaining its collective dignity.”

Yeps! The prestige of Dhoni is too high. The prestige of the media is too low! Sorry, the media cannot maintain its “collective dignity” because they know they don’t have any dignity. And, just like politicians, you mediapersons brought it on yourselves. The  brazen corruption of the last 20 years in the Indian media is coming back to bite you all now. The Indian public knows enough now about the deals that the media makes, we know about articles that appear on “news”  websites and mysteriously disappear, we know about tapes with lobbyists that are suppressed, we know about columnists whose wives are personal secretaries to the most corrupt businessmen. We can all see how brazenly headlines are tilted to conceal or reveal the caste/religion of a victim depending on the narrative you want to push. We know about which media house uses the word “allegedly” in a strategic fashion depending on the religion of the accused.  We see through this stuff now…you can’t fool us any more. If you wanted to keep your “collective dignity”, you should have thought before. As Dhoni indicated, the majority of Indians now think that the media simply plays to a “script”. You brought this on yourselves. Now there is no going back.

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33 thoughts on “What Dhoni’s whiplash should teach the Indian media

  1. I watched that video again and again.If only we knew who that journalist was.Won’t be surprised if the Journalist is from NDTV.

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  2. Yes they have totally lost it ,their credibility is lost forever!!

    ‘mainstream media: your golden days in India are over.’…..so true!

    ‘The credibility of the media is now in the toilet.’…..rightly said!!

    We see through this stuff now…you can’t fool us any more……this says it all ,what with SM giving instant truth!!

    These presstitutes are so thick skinned they still think that they are ‘high and mighty’…all this with 3% viewer ship!!…LOL

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  3. The main stream media itself has become a side stream, the little dark ditch on the side of the road that hides filth and throws up some of its own. The time lines of the MSM are too slow today to qualify as main stream media. The MSM’s only USP could have been integrity but they have abandoned it long back.

    Twitter and Facebook are today’s MSM. People want honesty in reporting and transparency in reporting (and not hiding of entire incidents as happened in Malda). The MSM has failed on both these counts.

    Media today is too important to be left to corrupt biased businesses. Media today is too important to be left to the left. Hence media today is being managed by the common citizens like you and me.

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  4. One of the best examples of the politicians losing ground among the common public is the rise of a Non-Politician’ politician Donald Trump in America. People are tired of political correctness. When politicians (including Narendra Modi) praise Islam from podium, their noses seem to get longer. (I would give Mr. Modi a benefit of doubt since he chose, perhaps deliberately, to praise Islam at a Sufi function. We know Sufis are as ‘infidals’ as we Hindus for main stream Islam).

    As far as MSM losing high ground is concerned, it is everywhere for anybody to see. Latest is a Hindu dentist’s murder by a Muslim and his uneducated, unemployed friends, some of them were Hindus. HCU suicide handling and JNU protest handling has exposed their real agenda.

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  5. This is the end game for MSM crooks. These idiots don’t know where it is politics and where it is not. There is no scripts in games but there should be scripts in how to handle anti-nationals. Recognizing that like criminals could be in any profession and among students, anti-nationals could be journalists, teachers and students in some university. So, I hope our nation has some script to handle anti-nationals who are using cover under different sanctioned profession like teacher, professor, student and anti-national journalists like jehadis using school buildings and hospitals as their shields. If the center follows the patriotic and strong actions of Chhatisgarh govt. arresting four rouge journalists and Dhoni blasting anti-national so called journalists, we can get rid of of this scourge of our nation.

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    1. Previously at least everyone used to be united in cricket games. Now, each game feels like a battle against an opposition that hates Modi and Hindus so much that it is waiting to celebrate defeat of cricket team…

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  6. I started reading newspapers in my schooldays, but i gradually came to notice that even back (then 1980s) the editor or somebody behind him was pushing some agenda. It almost always had to do with promoting the dynasty in some way or the other, or the lefty narrative in general; (a strike was almost always a “struggle”).

    Some times i wrote a letter to the editor to put across my POV but it never got printed. Someone said that the letter should open with a sentence appreciating some stance of the paper/editor in some story and then get into criticism mode. I tried that one letter did get published was heavily edited. I expect people did write the contrary views even in those days but only ended up in the waste paper heap. Things were different for a while when Arun Shourie was editor of Indian Express and Goenka Sr. was the boss. That was a good team and for some time IE enjoyed zooming circulation. That itself tells how much people were getting fed up with the MSM even in the old days.

    The social media is a game changer. Editors can no longer dump inconvenient viewpoints into the bin. The most they can do is (a) Ignore; (2) Troll on SM and get it back with compound interest; or (3) Whine.

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    1. ” Someone said that the letter should open with a sentence appreciating some stance of the paper/editor in some story and then get into criticism mode..”

      Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 🙂

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  7. newspapers now are only for use to make paperbags and wrap churmuri!.DeccanHerald in bangalore leads the way in the sycophantic race to keep theDynasty’s halo shining.its so nauseating.Dhoni’s reply to the “reporter”was wonderful.wish this happens more often.

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  8. Bahut kraantikaari…bahutehi kraantikaari… And those few righteous writers who have guts to write about something against the trends of MSM are strong armed into apologising like that Marathi Newspaper which published an article about Teresa’s miracle (Ambedkar who expected Indians to have a scientific temper must be Rolling in afterlife).

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  9. Dhoni must have read the headline – ‘Chance for Pak to humiliate India’. He and his team did not allow that to happen. And he did not let go a chance to humiliate the media go wasted. It was as if Dhoni just wanted to say those words very badly and he got a good chance to do so!!!! I ENJOYED it. The whole media circus group was no where to be seen on this issue. I ENJOYED it too.

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  10. Hi Chaiwallah…Sorry that I was unable to write my comments for long time. But, I am a regular viewer to the site. Also, congratulations on crossing 50000 views for 2016. It may be cliche…you are writing truth & people love to read truth. Keep going. Like others, I also enjoyed Dhoni’s reply. May be he will be trolled as sanghi or rightwinger by Prestitutes in few days.
    I need to mention about your blog on Bhagat Singh. That was an awesome & very logical point of view. Kudos.

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  11. I think the so called journalists from the so called MSMs have been fast losing their relevance in the society which is evident from the restlessness they show on anything that is nationalistic.

    The worst thing, it has turned towards cricket too which in India is a religion for millions of cricket lovers.

    The irony is that MSD is always hailed as Mr Cool handling very many tough situations on many ODIs in a do or die stage. If Dhoni loses his cool to snub the reporter wasting no time, we can very well imagine how critical the intent of the reporter would be while asking this stupid question. If we ignoring them without disturbing these MSMs will have find their slow death staring on their face.

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  12. Hmmm..
    Media is thickskinned and contrived. There have been many whiplashes like this before. They will not learn.
    They have chosen to be shameless and moronic. Sold their integrity for money.

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