Dissecting Media Debates in India

by Mustafa Saifee

Media Debate shows have been a very important platform for discussing discourses in a democracy. They have a responsibility to inform and educate viewers about politics as a serious topic. But many times these shows end up being a shouting match where the viewers end up knowing nothing or an opinionated show where the host/moderator sort of impose his opinions on others. Here I analyse some of the best known debate show moderator in India and their moderating styles. Here I am not commenting on the content of the debate or comment on who made more logical argument in the debate or who won the debate. I am just analyzing the debates styles and also these might not be indicative of all the episodes of the show as I have only analysed one episode at random.

The 4 news personalities I am analyzing are
Ravish Kumar Arnab Barkha Rajdeep

Ravish Kumar

Arnab Goswami

Barkha Dutt

Rajdeep Sardesai


Ravish Kumar Ravish Kumar
Ravish Kumar is the senior executive editor at NDTV India, the Hindi news channel of the NDTV news network and hosts a number of programmes like Prime Time (debate show), Ravish Ki Report. He always starts his debates with a 6-7 minutes monolouge about the topic about to be discussed and all the nuiances regarding the topic. He does not call more than 4 or 5 to his show, and gives ample time to all the panelists. In the total time graph it might seem that Ravish takes up a lot of debate time but out of that time around 8 min is for the introduction before the debate starts.
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Arnab Arnab Goswami
Arnab Goswami is an Indian journalist who is the editor-in-chief and a news anchor of the Indian news channel Times Now and ET Now. The Newshour is a live debate anchored by him on Times Now. Generally the debates at The Newshour have 7 to 8 participants. Goswami's heated discussions during The Newshour has invited criticism from newsweekly Outlook running a cover story titled 'The Man Who Killed TV News'. Arnab defended his brand of journalism by stating, "The journalism I follow is journalism of opinion and is not PR driven. If my opinion helps bringing about a change, I will opine and not shy behind the wall of neutrality."
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Barkha Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt is an Indian television journalist and columnist. She works as a consulting editor with NDTV. Dutt gained prominence for her reportage of the Kargil War. Dutt has won many national and international awards, including the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour.
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Rajdeep Rajdeep Sardesai
Rajdeep Sardesai is an Indian news anchor and author. Sardesai is currently a consulting editor at the India Today group and will be doing a marquee show for Headlines Today. He was the Editor-in-Chief of IBN18 Network, that includes CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN-Lokmat from where he left in July 2014, after Reliance Industries Ltd announced it would be acquiring control in Network 18 Media and Investments Ltd. Rajdeep currently hosts India at 9 a news report show which sometime holds debate in which number of participants varies from 2 to 6.
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Footnote:
I am not commenting on the content of the debate or comment on who made more logical argument in the debate or who won the debate
This is inspired from NYT's Dissecting a Trailer visualization
Full report of the project can be found here