18 June, 2021

Of An Inexact Science, Or How We Learn To Debate

Firm editorial control is a cure for the dangers of live TV, the inanities of anchors and politicians

Of An Inexact Science, Or How We Learn To Debate
Nalin Mehta says "television captures and publicises reality" and then hurriedly adds, "or what looks like reality". His book also examines the evidence that television can, in some circumstances, create reality. Reality is at the heart of the debate about television, and by that of course I don’t mean unreal Reality Television. Television can at best only be an edited version of reality, but those versions have consequences. The consequences are far from clear so it is important to debate them. Nalin Mehta does ask whether or not television contributes to violence, widens divisions in society, or encourages a political dialogue of the deaf by staging shouting-matches between politicians.

In his chapter on television and the 2002 Gujarat riots, Mehta discusses the copycat consequence of TV—the suggestion that telecasting violence encourages others to turn violent. He quotes the bjp government’s allegations that national television coverage had a copycat effect and Rajdeep Sardesai, then ndtv’s managing editor, making the case for...

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