Oct 302007
 

There are some stories that simply don’t make the news, while others more than make up for it in terms of volume……even though both may be in the same zone…..Let’s look at a few random examples:

  • Amitabh Bachchan’s house getting flooded is news, 1.3 million people in Bihar and Orissa losing their homes due to floods is not news
  • Prince Stuck at the bottom of a well is news, while a Dalit boy burnt alive for daring to pull water out of a well is not news
  • Gay people protesting in Australia is news, Landless marching to Delhi – in the largest march since Independence is not news.
  • The Sensex at 20,000 is news, companies laying off people due to the strengthening ruppee is not news.
  • Discrimination against Shipa Shetty is news, Discrimination against Muslims & Dalits is not news
  • Bobby Jindal is welcome news, Mayawati is not…..
  • And SRK on a high protien diet to get his six pack is news……… but, millions not having any diet to speak about is not news…

And, as India together puts it:

 

"43.7 Million People break Guinness World Record." This is surely the stuff of which headlines are made. Nearly 44 million is a lot of people. And both Indians in general and the media here in particular usually love Guinness records. According to a recent Associated Press feature, The Hindustan Times has run over 50 stories this year about bids for Guinness records, and it is still not far ahead of the competition. The latest to join the ranks of record-seekers – or, at least, to be reported in the press as considering the possibility – is the family of Raj Kapoor. Yet the record broken by 43.7 million people did not quite make it.

Perhaps the nature of the event was the spoiler. The 43,716,440 people who together (reportedly) broke the record were participating in approximately 6540 events in about 127 countries, organised to enable people to "Stand Up and Speak Out" against poverty over 24 hours spanning 16 and 17 October. But then again here was a relatively "happy" story – that so many millions are willing to express their concern about this serious problem is surely good news. Even though the media today have a preference for upbeat stories, this one obviously didn’t have what it takes.

There is a wold that does not exist as far as journalists are concerned…. This level of blindness to a whole section of India is not just editorial mandate, it is also, at a certain very basic level, journalistic ineptitude. For a lot of young journalists who work in the metros – the villages are somewhere else, Independence happened somewhere else, and caste system does not exist. 

 

Maybe newspapers and news magazines ought to spend some of their money on training their personnel on the basics of India.

I would probably start a lesson by telling them that India is in South Asia and its London and New York are not its districts next to . Noida and Vashi

Jul 252006
 

Pardon the really bad pun, but i had a bit of television news induced diabetes following the wall to wall television coverage of the boy stuck at the bottom of a well. This was the dumb newscasters’ dream come true – what can pull at the heart strings more than saving a child in distress. No analysis, no indepth knowledge, nothing needed really. Fix the camera and talk around the visuals. 50 hours of live coverage on all news channels. The news equivalent of a soap opera – prince bahar niklega ki nahi. Replete of course with cutaways of people of various religious persuasions praying. The only thing missing was Lata Mangeshkar singing "Ai Malik Tere Bandhe Hum" "There is someone coming up from the well" exclaimed one anchor "let’s see who it is" – Excuse me, who can it be? Another one stated – "there is a crane standing there, tell us what it does" – Ahem – what do cranes normally do ( and i don’t mean the flying kind) Another one stated - sarkar ko abhi kya karna chahiye (what should the Government do). Government is not omnipotent (nor should it be). Is the Government going to go around covering every ditch that is built by every neighbourhood. Nobody asked the vital question – what was an entire society doing with a 60 foot uncovered ditch, when there are kids playing around. What the hell was the contractor doing, and where is the criminal liability of these people. Or don’t news channels want to mention this, in the fear of spoiling the picture of "happily ever after"! In a country where almost 2000 children die every day due to lack of sanitation,and 2.5 million die every year mainly due to poverty related reasons, the media could play a stellar role in ensuring that questions are raised, and answers received on why this is happening. But, for that they have to work hard. And, that in a 24 hour, instant khichidi news scenario – with the kind of staff that they have -? is not possible. Finally, I empathise with the family’s dilema, and appreciate the rescue attempts – but surely there was other stuff equally newsworthy that happened that day. 37 news channels, and no news to watch!

Jul 192006
 

The US administration on the [tag]Mumbai Bomb Blasts [/tag] – why are they called [tag] 7/11 [/tag]? is our desire to find symmetry so high that we ape the unfamiliar? – today:

I know there’s a lot of speculation out there now. That happens in these cases. But I think we need to be led by the evidence before we start trying to draw conclusions and make policy pronouncements on it,"US assistant secretary of state Richard Boucher said on Monday. .

At this point in time the evidence against terrorists using Pakistani soil to plan attacks India seems to be slightly higher than Iraq having WMD’s. While two wrongs don’t make a right, it is kind of hypocritical for the US administration to call for India to lay off blaming Pakistan on the one hand, and support the Israeli bombing of Lebanon on the other!