Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Times of India is too big for details

Indranil Basu’s front page Times of India story on the discontent in Indian cricket makes me cringe. Here’s is a bloated rumor masquerading as a major sports story. Just take a look at the headline, for christ’s sake. “Dhoni may be sacked as Test captain”. So the reporter isn’t sure. Or maybe he’s sure that the board isn’t sure.

Parts of it read as if a cricket administrator wrote the stuff. “While senior players, including VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, have clarified that they are not retiring from cricket as yet, it doesn’t mean that both, or either, will be selected for Tests again.” Who said that? The Times can be frugal with details, but here they’re stingy with anonymity too. So I don’t know if one board member is thinking this, or if lots of them are. A little later, Basu writes, “It is also being said that if Yuvraj Singh gets fit, he will be an ‘automatic choice’”. Nowhere does Basu indicate that he questioned those doing the saying about what they were smoking. He thinks it’s not important to tell us how he knows that Sehwag’s feeling left out under Dhoni. And he certainly doesn’t explain which particular cricket bosses think Sehwag should be given a chance. Okay, fine, don’t give us that. At least tell me how many people feel that way.

At one point in his story, Basu decides to toss away dispassion and distance entirely, and writes, “However, what is disturbing is the talk of ‘an ego clash’ between Dhoni and Sehwag”. I can’t make up my mind over whether Basu’s editorializing or being savaged by the Times’ light-touch copy-editors. Maybe he’s just being a mouthpiece, because this is what comes next: “It’s said that this affected Dhoni’s captaincy and he couldn’t assert his authority with Sehwag and a few others.”

Basu may have done the hard yards, and perhaps everything he wrote may still turn out to be true. But he forgets that to present all these voices without attribution, even if those voices are anonymous, is just beyond stupid.

This story, and others like it, just serve as a reminder that the only reason I let this collection of half-truths pretending to be a newspaper into my home is because I’m working on my sift-through-garbage-to-find-one-fact skills.

Ps. I just read the last part of the story online. It is an editorial.

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