Monday, December 17, 2007

When there was only one news channel...

The news of Tejeshwar Singh’s demise instantly took me back those growing-up years when TV news was synonymous with Doordarshan news. I remember him for something more than his rich baritone voice, and the bearded look that kept several of his female fans glued to TV during his news reading session. For me, he represented a time when news reading was an innocuous activity devoid of any present-day aggressive sensationalism, and it was to be passively watched and listened to as the newscaster read the bulletin with few actual video footages and fewer live reports. The voice of the newscaster, the diction, and the delivery style could command and hold the attention of any viewer, whatever may be the news content. Tejeshwar's voice had that rare magical quality.

That was the time when there was no breaking news, no citizen journalists and absolutely no advertisements. Competition among news channels and commercial dimensions was unheard of, since DD was the only channel for news and entertainment. That was also the time when watching news was more of an after-dinner activity when all of us would sit in front of our B&W Dyanora TV in our CIEFL campus house. That was when news reporting was still conservative, cautious, non-commercial and staid sort of a presentation in a bureaucratic style fully owned by the government channel. That age belonged to news readers like Komal G B Singh, Tejeshwar Singh, Ramu Damodaran, Neeti Ravindran, Rini Khanna and the likes - all TV stars in their own right and their voice was the voice of the medium, be it for DD documentaries, live show commentaries, international film or cultural festivals or even a funeral or a swearing-in ceremony of a natioan leader. Perhaps, that was also the time when fledglings like Rajdeep Sardesai and others were being mentored by Dr.Pronnoy Roy whose ‘World this Week’ was hugely popular.

Cut to 2007...looks like we've come a long way in news broadcast: today news is not read, it's presented and anchored, and it’s a commercial commodity that competes globally with other channels. It involves direct and live reporting, sting operations and exciting exposes. It calls for people to ‘participate’ through SMS and amateur videos. It has Rajdeep, Barkha, Anubha, Udayan and Pronnoy who sustain our curiousity for information and present tons of it, as and when it happens.

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