Media Matters

Should Republic TV be supported by fellow journalists? Chennai incident sparks debate

Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami has in the past asked for fellow journalists to be put on trial. Should his channel get any solidarity?

The journalism fraternity sometimes is unsure what to make of Republic TV. The news channel built around Arnab Goswami is frequently accused of disrespecting journalistic norms and reporters bullying subjects, and has even had the Delhi High Court tell it to temper its coverage. Most disturbingly, Goswami, both at Republic and in his previous job at TimesNow, has often spoken out against rival media, calling for people who disagree with him to be put on trial or boycotted, rather than speaking up for press freedom. So when a group of journalists in Chennai decided to walk out of a press conference with Gujarati politician Jignesh Mewani, when he demanded the Republic reporter leave, the move sparked a massive debate.

The main question being asked was simple, although it actually covers a host of thorny issues: Should fellow journalists support Republic, especially if their support is unlikely to be reciprocated?

According to the Newsminute, Mewani, a Member of Legislative Assembly from Vadgam, was speaking at a media briefing after interacting with a number of activists and students at the Qaid-E-millat International Academy of Media Studies. As the briefing was about to begin, a number of mics were placed in front of him, including one belonging to a journalist from Republic TV.


“I won’t answer questions. Remove the mic,” Mewani said, according to the Newsminute, insisting that it was his policy not to speak to the channel. While other journalists attempted to pacify him, he was insistent. This prompted Shabbir Ahmed, a reporter from TimesNow, to say that Mewani can’t demand which mic goes where followed by telling the Gujarati leader that he can leave, “we don’t want this press conference.” Other journalists then joined in support, and no news briefing ended up taking place.

The move instantly led to reactions online, some of which was in support of the solidarity media organisations showed.

Others admitted that even if they do not like Republic TV’s approach to journalism, the other media persons at the press conference had done the right thing in not letting a politician dictate terms.

Others pointed out that Republic was unlikely to return the favour if another journalist was in the same position, a fact that should speak volumes about the sort of journalism it practices.

The question actually throws up a whole host of issues.

In ordinary circumstances, journalists would be united in opposition to a politician attempting to pick and choose which media outlet gets to be at a press conference. But Republic TV brings up unusual questions, only one of which is the fact that it is partly owned by a Member of Parliament from the Bharatiya Janata Party-run National Democratic Alliance who has admitted that its entire approach is to get as much market share as possible.

Republic TV journalists use a confrontational approach at any press meet, a style that was developed by Goswami at TimesNow, in which they attempt to make their own reporter the story and heckle, bully and browbeat a source into giving a bite. In case someone complains about having a mic shoved in their faces or being harassed by a reporter, the channel then has a tendency to play the victim and claim that the subjects are refusing to answer questions.

This unseemly approach has been normalised, in part because the self-regulatory bodies that are supposed to govern news outfits, whether it is the Editor’s Guild or the News Broadcasters Association, have little to no influence over actual newsroom practices. This means that even if journalists are unhappy with the approach that Republic TV takes, there is little they can do about it. Moreover, any sign that journalists condone a politician’s decision to take action against an individual news outlets runs the risk of sending the signal that such moves are acceptable – which the media is wary of doing, because it can easily be turned on its head and used against a legitimate news outlet in the future.

As a result, even if it means obliquely endorsing a news channel that many have deep issues with, journalists feel the need to stand up in solidarity with Republic TV. Some, have, however suggested that there are other tactics politicians can use if they don’t want to keep giving oxygen to channels like it:

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”


“Like what?”


A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”




“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:


This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.