Executive (and) Editor

How the media becomes an arm of the government

illustration by girish
illustration by girish
30 November, 2020


AS IT BECAME CLEAR that Donald Trump had been ousted and Joe Biden was to be the next president of the United States, Anant Goenka tweeted,

I hope after Biden’s victory, American news media takes time to introspect its partisan ways. They must make a better effort at representing the views of the entire population, not just that of their respective loyal, echo-chambered community of readers.

This is apparently one of Goenka’s favourite themes. In a recent interview with the journalist Shoma Choudhury, Goenka—the executive director and heir apparent of the Express Group—spoke of the need for “a certain cause, a certain role that has to define why we are doing this, this profession.” He invoked the legacy of the Indian Express from the Emergency, when the paper defied the authoritarian Indira Gandhi, and spoke of a purpose defined by that dark period, a purpose greater than profit: to challenge tyranny, to defend free speech and democracy. But in the face of another government locking up dissidents at whim, Goenka did not invoke the same purpose for the profession today. Rather, he felt the present tragedy lay in the extreme polarisation of views in the country. The appropriate role of journalism now, Goenka said, was to “invest more time and effort in finding that common ground, that creates less polarisation, less of a divided society than kind of just talking to one or other extreme.”