‘Manmohan Singh story has not been told’
New Delhi: The national media has missed the story about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, says Union Law, Justice and Minorities Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, as he comes under attack from Team Anna for suspected irregularities in the allotment of coal mining blocks.
"The middle class created Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and now you want to take him apart. He is what he is... You should be proud of having created him... That's a lot for one single story, but you have lost it," Khurshid said.
He was speaking at a panel discussion about positive content in the media at the launch of a book, "TV News Writing Made Easy for Newcomers" written by journalist Ravi M. Khanna, in the national capital Wednesday evening at the India Habitat Centre.
Manmohan Singh is a special kind of teacher and he merits a one-on-one story and no one told it, the minister said. "There is so much screaming, shouting and excitement over other things," he said.
"We are going through turbulent times but there is an airport to reach. And a wonderful man is driving the plane," Khurshid said.
Speaking on the persona of Manmohan Singh, Anuradha Prasad, managing director of BAG TV and Media Network, said that she was the first cub journalist to interview the then finance minister Manmohan Singh in her show, "Money Matters" for the Doordarshan in the 1990s.
"He had always been a shy person and not a television-friendly man. There is a great wall between the persona and the politician... With the PM, there is a barrier... Manmohan Singh, the person did not come out," Prasad said.
Prasad also revealed some lesser known aspects about the prime minister's personality from her experience.
"Did you know that the prime minister's wife cooked at home before he became prime minister and he drove around in a Maruti 800 car to parties. He would return home by 9.30 p.m. from parties because he could not drive in the darkness. He did not hire a chauffeur or a cook," Prasad said.
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpeyee's poems were popular because they reached the people but something in the system and his persona did not work for Manmohan Singh and he has failed to reach out to the people, Prasad observed.
Talking about dumbing down of television, Prasad said news televisions were being questioned for content and credibility, but if a television channel owner had to choose between revenue and credibility, one would compromise on "credibility for TRPs to reach people and survive".
"News channels are at the mercy of cable operators now. They hold us to ransom, if we don't pay them, they will close our channels. It is easy to question political credibility and blame news television," Prasad said.
Markand Adhikari, vice-chairman and managing director of Sab TV, said, "Fifty percent of all content on news channel is entertainment. There is no money for content because 80 percent of our income goes to the cable operators and the rest in salaries and infrastructure," Adhikari added.
"The proposed digitisation of cable networks will make news channel profitable and ensure better news content," Adhikari said.
Khanna, who has worked for the Voice of America for more than 25 years, said he wrote his television journalism manual to help newcomers avoid traps while writing or looking for a story.
The book is indirectly linked to the quality of content in the news media, he said.
"The book is full of examples of how one story can be written for radio, television and newspaper. India lacks quality training for media students," Khanna said.