Responsible Journalism

Blood Thirsty – The term I would like to use to describe certain media persons who were bent on making the unfortunate terrorist attack of Mumbai a mega 24/7 event.

They played on till the last bullet was fired and even there after. All this after several sincere requests/warnings from the government agencies to stop the live coverage with the fear of information being relayed to the terrorists holed up inside the hotels (and which, now revealed, seems to have taken place).

There was this one particular journalist who made the whole episode of covering the events a nasty one. Barkha Dutt, considered as the bold face of Indian television journalism after her stint at Kargil war zone, disrupting the army with her ‘exclusive’ reports, had a cover story and she grabbed it with more than eager hands.

This particular journalist was covering the Mumbai terror attack near the Oberoi hotel and if I can recall correctly she was terrorizing and creating panic among the crowd gathered in the road near her. One particular incident that I can clearly recall is where in she was seen shouting to the camera (obviously giving orders to the people at the studio) ‘Natasha! Natasha! I want this in the Breaking the top of the screen….there are shots heard from the Oberoi’. Shots being fired, and all she was worried was about ‘Breaking news’ at the top of the screen ! And hearing her high pitched howls to the camera, the public stranded near her went berserk and started to scatter in all directions creating panic. All this for responsible journalism.

Next she asks the police constable stationed in the road as to who might be responsible for the shots just heard, to which he answered that he could not tell as he was with the crowd in the street many yards away. This makes her draw a conclusion of how ill-informed the state police force was. Aaah!

After the attacks and the siege ended, she was back in studio with the nation’s anti-terror experts like Shobha De, Mahesh Bhatt, Sharmila Tagore, Narayana Murthy, Simi Garewal to comment / dissect the attacks and the governments inaction and so on. And these ‘experts’ played their part wisely by giving their expert comments.

Sample this:

Narayanmurthy says: ‘I want the NSG to be decentralized’. Great one from the IT czar, I thought he was only an expert in IT, but he was there to give remedies for internal security matters of our country.

And it was no surprise when Simi Garewal landed in soup by not being able to differentiate between the flag of Pakistan and the green flag on a mosque she saw in Dharavi. And the person who milked the most out of this controversy: the same journalist who made her give these statements in her talk show…sorry the ‘debate’ show.

Responsible journalism? I don’t think so…

To give some credit to the media world, not all the reporters that day were so sinister. The likes of Srinivasan Jain, Prannoy Roy maintained a decorum and adhered to ‘Reporting’ the events alone.

I believe the media world is now up against the government which has planned to ban the media from covering such incidents ‘LIVE’. After all, the civilian world doesn’t need to know the intricate details of a military operation. I somehow feel now that the good old DD days were better when there were 2 – 3 brief updates per day on such incidents and the progress made. But this 24/7 coverage was a nasty display of Journalistic freedom being abused to a nauseating extent.

~ by Jayanthan Ravi on January 19, 2009.

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