Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Media bashing, anyone ???

A friend of mine has put it very well in his Google Talk tagline : 'The media is busy indulging in politician bashing, but who will indulge in media bashing ??'. And today, in the DNA, people have spoken up against the media for their coverage of the 60 hours last week. Finally, people are waking to the quality of the coverage. For the Indian media, it was the first time that they were covering a semi-battle in almost their own backyard, so to speak. And they did manage to make a horibble mess out of it !!!!

Firstly, I would like to point out the fine distinction between 'news' and 'information'. As per me, news is something that people want to hear, while information is something that helps people in making decisions. Therefore, all information becomes news, but all news is not necessarily information. And in times of crises, what we expect from the media is information. But, throughout those 60 hours, what we got was an endless torrent of 'news' with hardly a fraction of it being really informative. In fact, some of it was counter-informative. First at the Nariman House on Friday and then at the Taj on Saturday, the media informed us that the operation was over (based on a few commandoes coming out of the buildings with a V-sign), only to be later told by the NSG that the operation was far from being complete. And in all those 60 hours, not even once did I see or hear any channel asking people not to come near the battleground. As if there was some filmy shooting going on !!!.

Then there are the usual sought-after sound bytes from relatives of the dead/injured. And on this, the relatively better-off NDTV took the cake (and that too because I did not bother seeing the others , especially the Hindi channels). On Friday evening, it 'interviewed' one of the relatives of the dead/hostages. After answering a couple of questions, the relative suddenly went quite and was on the verge of breaking down. At this, the news anchor nonchalantly said: "I'm sorry, we seemed to have disturbed you". How disgusting ??? I absolutely do not see any point in having the grieving relatives and family appear on national television, only to be asked: "aap ko kaisa lag raha hai ??" How I wish that one of the relatives actually bars the media from entering his/her house, just the same way that Major Unnikrishan's father barred the Kerala CM. And most of the media journalists covering the event need urgent lessons in voice modulation. For example, on Sunday (a full day after the saga was over), a Star News reporter went to the police HQ to interview the cops who had slain the terrorists who killed Karkare, Salaskar et al. While the cops were answering in a quiet and restrained manner, our good reporter friend was screaming at the top of his voice. almost as if he was seeing another encounter in front of his eyes.

And then post the attacks, there is the favourite media occupation of making mountains of molehills. I mean, does it really matter who accompanies the CM to the Taj ??? Is Mr. Ram Gopal Varma persona non-grata ??? Then, why the big deal about the whole thing ??. The media needs to grow up and hopefully after this incident, even they will introspect and be better off for it.



PH said...

Amit, absolutely agreed with interviewing the grieving relatives!

Somewhere are we to blame too, for watching the news channels non stop?

Amit Gokhale said...

yes.. take your point.. to some extent, the demand is what drives the content, and which is where the TRPs become all-important, whether it be reality shows or real events..

Dhananjay said...

But from the last point agreed on everything else. The problem with Ramu's visit to the Taj was not whether he was a persona non grata or not, its about the sensitivity of the entire episode. Probably there was no reason for even CM to visit the place, but still as head of administration he should be there. But looking at the gravity of the situation the only people who should have been there must be people who can do something about it, not some movie director.
As about media, one thing which our media needs to learn is "restraint". Second they are there to show people what happens and let people decide what to do, not to make decisions for them. There is lot our media can learn from BBC, who termed the attacks as ones by Militants and not Terrorist. Whether its a right thing to do or not is a separate debate but they maintained their objectivity.
And don't we all love these kind of spectacles which media is showing us. Why will there be thousands of people in an area which is almost like a combat zone? Remember the pictures of masses getting in "Nariman House" shouting slogans of "Jai Hind" as soon as the NSG came out?
Any marketer will sell to people what they want to buy. So if people demand the kind of media coverage on show thats what they will get