Posts Tagged ‘ barkha dutt ’

Barkha Dutt & more of her ilk

many news channels covering the mumbai terror attacks seemed to have lost sense of right & wrong. the tendency to ask insensitive questions that can’t possibly be answered continued. barkha dutt asking a middle-aged woman who’s husband was stuck in Taj with no news of whether he was even alive: “how does it feel?” the poor lady was barely able to speak & honestly, what did ms dutt expect her to say? the lady said, i am trying to be brave, my friends are being a great support to me… did ms dutt need to know that? i thought at this point, given her state, ms dutt would stop asking her questions. but no, next qs: “i understand you have children – how are they feeling right now?”

if someone were falling off a cliff, ms dutt would be asking them “how does it feel?” instead of doing something to rescue them!!

equally idiotic were journalists asking Ratan Tata if he knew how many terrorists were inside the hotel & if he knew the extent of damage. this when the entire operation was in process and took many more hours to complete.

ms dutt, in fact, decided to reveal all kinds of information that really shouldn’t have been on the news at all. a husband who mentioned which room his wife was last in, was broadcast at a time when terrorists were still inside! whereas the BBC when on the line with a British national inside the Trident, said, “we understand that you should not tell us which room you are located in, for your own safety”. later, when there were reports that the govt has said they will not negotiate with terrorists, she says, she has it on record from a senior diplomat that attempts to negotiate are on! even if that was the case, surely the official sources did not want to reveal information and broadcasting it to the general public helped no one, maybe caused some damage that we would never know about.

as for the other channels, zee news, headlines today, india TV, star news… were all horrific, playing out the entire 50 odd hours with high pitched voices, melodramatic voice-overs and haunting music, that did absolutely nothing to prevent the spread of panic. am quoting a friend here who sent a mail about Star News & Kishore Ajwani

“Was this a serious news guy or a pimp, peddling his wares all dressed up in garish tones? The screaming voice sounded like gleeful auctioneer raising the bids higher and higher “aur yeh 1945 ka behterin…. …” though in his case the script would have probably read “Aaj ki taaza khabar, pachaas TRPs ke liye pesh hai Star News exclusive, yeh aatank ka khaufnak khel.”
Yes all news anchors were hyper, but then there is a difference between a sense of urgency and the style of delivery that Mr Ajwani used. We all know the cut-throat race for TRPs, but did you, Mr. Ajwani even stop to think that this was also a human story, a tragedy involving real people.”

BBC & CNN were predictably biased, especially since there were reports that british and american nationals were targeted. their reports only covered that, forgetting that a high number of those injured or killed were in fact, indians.

Times Now had some of the best coverage though even they tended to border on hyperbole at times. but overall, their coverage was impressive and they made an effort to distinguish between official statements and unsubstantiated reports, repeatedly mentioning which ones were not confirmed. however at times, arnab goswami went into the “exclusively on times now” “only on times now” hyperbole… was it essential to continue plugging your channel during the time of the crises?

there were channels showing the arrival of the NSG, the number of teams that had arrived, where they were located. how is it that not one of them realised that making this information public could harm the operation?

constant predictions of when it would end, asking a journalist standing outside Nariman House to imagine was happening in armed combat inside (!!), “the end game” – a phrase i have come to hate – being bandied about since friday morning, when it took a full 24 hours more for the Taj to be safe. how can one refer to this as “the end game”? its not a video game, its a real operation with real people and spreading constant misinformation that the operation is in its last legs and will soon be over helped no one – not even the families waiting for info about people inside. every interview with an army officer said, “please don’t quantify time, its not possible to do that” and yet all the journalists were interested in was predicting that it would end soon.

imagine there was no 24 hours news – would it have been possible for the entire operation to have been more efficient and controlled? i don’t think it was brave of journalists to be on their stomachs outside the Taj trying to provide sound bytes of what was happening. i think it was ridiculous that the blow by blow account was being provided even to the supporters of these terrorists so that they could plan their next move. yes, news is essential. but at what cost?

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