Canadian self-censorship vs fearless Indian journalism

Fresh from a trip to India, Howard Bernstein writes about the
fearlessness of Indian TV and why Canadian media has lost its mojo.

On his blog, Medium Close Up, Bernstein describes two separate news shows he watched that featured hard-hitting journalism of the sort we don’t find as often as we should in Canadian TV. He writes:

“On one occasion I saw an election panel made up of one sitting cabinet minister and seven other men running for parliament. Each guest was a member of a different political party. The subject of the interview was primarily public works, buildings, bridges, but in fact the real crux of the conversation was corruption. In Canada you might expect the opposition candidates to attack the cabinet minister and in India they did too. But here was the difference, the host went after the cabinet minister with a gusto I have never seen in North America. He pointed out the scandals. He pinpointed the lies. He called the minister out by explaining what he said in the past and what he had done. There was no Canadian style pussy-footing. He finally asked the minister why anyone should ever believe a word he says and further why would any sane voter choose him or his party? This is the party in power, remember.”

Bernstein writes “It was great theatre but more important it was great journalism.”

Another show highlighted the changing stories told by the leaders of the Commonwealth Games. “They shone a bright light on the lies being told throughout the process,” he writes. “They investigated the funding and the waste. In the end they took full credit for the fact that they were responsible for the firing and political downfall of two more corrupt Indian political leaders.”

Bernstein chastises Canadian journalists for being too afraid to take on the government. “In Canada I have heard important interviewers say they can’t go after their guests because if they offend them they won’t come back and perhaps neither will anyone in their political party. In India this excuse doesn’t play.”

He urges Canuck journalists to ditch the idea that they are beholden to political or business leaders: besides, they need us more than we need them, he writes. “Canadian media has lost its mojo, its power. Not because of what is being done to them, but because of what they are doing to themselves.”