Newsroom Ethnography
Shailaja Bajpai
Newsroom Ethnography by Somnath Batabyal Routledge, New Delhi, 2012, 237 pp., 695
May 2012, volume 36, No 5

If there is one thing everyone who watches television news agrees on it is that these channels are highly watchable but they are not news.The average television viewer has an extremely poor opinion of their quality, objectivity, news sense. Indeed, most viewers are enraged by what passes for news—’sensational’ is the word most commonly used to describe TV news.

Still, despite all the impassioned criticism, we continue to watch our favourite news channels, always wanting to know ‘what happened’, even as we doubt their ability and willingness to tell us in plain, simple language. Each time we switch on a news channel, it is with hope and each time we switch off or switch to another channel, it is with that hope belied and a sense of intense frustration. More often than not, we end up pulling at anything we can lay our hands on and screaming, ‘What’s wrong with them?’

It is to answer precisely this question that reading Making News in India is important. The author, Somnath Batabyal, a former broadcast news journalist, tries to understand why a TV news broadcaster gives us the ‘news’ it does.

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