Give a dog a bad name and hang it। That seems to be the lead that the Indian media is following in the case of Harbhajan Singh. Now, Harbhajan is no saint, and he has never portrayed himself to be one. However, the Indian media, in order to provide more meat to their own stories, and to feed the ever-present hunger for more (news) on the internet and on 24x7 TV news, has gone ahead and included a long list of Harbhajan’s past misdemeanors to show that he has a history and that he should be given exemplary punishment.
They are digging up all the ‘dirt’ that anybody’s ever assembled on Harbhajan and serving that as the confirmed truth। This ‘dirt’ is not limited to Harbhajan stories related to cricket. Of course, there’s no denying the fact that were it not for cricket, nobody would have heard of Harbhajan Singh, the son of Sardar Sarvev Singh of Jalandhar. However, the media needs to distinguish between what is private, what is not; what other news item relates to the story on hand and what does not. Many of the writers/ commentators seem to have no inkling of what they are writing/ talking about. I suspect that they are provided ‘templates’ by their ‘un-biased’ editors, who in turn have learnt their art not in a lifetime of journalism, but at the feet of some pushy MBA-marketing type.
So, we have some journalists bringing up Bishen Bedi’s ‘javelin-throw’ comment, while we have some others bringing up Harbhajan featuring in a liquor ad campaign without his turban। This is all to buttress their claims that Harbhajan didn’t become ‘controversial’ overnight; he has been ‘controversial’ all along. Then, there are some who are not content to dig up past stories, but go on to look for new ones. So we have some hard-working journalists talking to Mickey Arthur to enlighten us that Harbhajan created trouble even during the South African tour!
In all this brouhaha, there are very few participants who have shown some good sense. The first, of course, has been the general Indian public. They have acknowledged that what Harbhajan did was wrong, and that he should be punished for it. Most of them have found no linkage with past history, nor do they care about it. The second, have been a handful of journalists who, not surprisingly, are the not the wide-eyed ‘Chhante Ki Goonj’-type TV journalists, but have actually done some real journalism. Ashok Malik of the Daily Pioneer has written a very balanced piece in the ‘Cricinfo Blogs’. I wish I could say the same of the leader piece in Cricinfo, which has done its best to hang Harbhajan.
A very close encounter, too close for comfort
3 years ago