Monday, August 27, 2007

Responsible Journalism

For years we only had DoorDarshan, the news in which was at best a lame duck affair. As a rule, on every day the governments view, the oppositions view and sometimes the peoples view were aired. Not too good, not too bad. But for all its drawbacks, it had one important facet, namely “Responsibility”. For e.g. we in India are not new to riots, but in the days of Doordarshan, care was taken not to put in pictures or use language that could spark off trouble in other areas of the country.

Of course the flip side of this was that some legitimate concerns were never aired, which exacerbated the wound. Kashmir comes to mind once too often, if only the media had shown some common sense and reported how discontent the people of the valley were and highlighted government apathy, Kashmir might not have burned. Instead the media chose in “national interest” to snub out stories from that part of town and naturally nobody even knew about how bad the situ was before the terrorism began.

But today with the advent of cable T.V, things have changed dramatically. Each bomb explosion is covered minutely, video footage is rerun about a zillion times and words used in describing are at best “inciting” and at worst…. Well they just lead to the next riot, maybe not today, but definitely tomorrow. Is this type of reporting good? Yes, it is. Is it bad? Yes it is.

A bomb explosion rocked Hyderabad two days back, as usual killing innocent people with no regard to age, sex, religion or just about anything else. As usual the channels were working overtime giving the people a dosage of the gruesome scenes (they don’t even put up a warning these days saying “adult content”). But today morning’s news paper gave me back some faith in the media.

Malayala Manorama had a front page picture of one of the relatives of a bomb victim. It showed a wailing Muslim father whose son had been killed in the explosion and I thought to myself “how correct”. The boy had come to Hyderabad from Bombay with his friends (all the rest Hindus). Each of those boys had relatives I am sure, pictures of any of them could have been published too, but the paper chose to present this one. Some would call it “pampering the minorities” but I would call it responsible journalism.

At a time like this, when the nation is shocked, it is so easy to blame the Muslim. After all it was a Muslim(s) who had done this dastardly act. The paper could have shown a bloodied picture with body parts lying all around. It could have shown the picture of some suspected terrorist, but it has wisely chosen to show that most important picture.

Just seeing that picture, one would easily understand that a bomb does not look or ask for the religion of a person before blasting him to smithereens. Just seeing that picture, one understands that “everybody” is at the receiving end. It gives out all the right messages, to the next fanatic Muslim who wishes to explode a bomb, it tells that “Your own people are gonna get killed buddy” to the next fanatic Hindu it tells that “see it is not just the Hindus who get killed, but everyone”.

Since I was travelling, I came to know about the explosion rather late. A Muslim friend of mine was with me at that time and his first words on hearing about the explosion was “I hope it doesn’t start a riot”. The same words, millions of other Muslims around the country would be mouthing now.

For the sake of a little sanity in our embattled country, I hope that the visual media would stop airing such disturbing pictures and give a bit more respect to the style of reporting done by “boring” Doordarshan.To all worried Indian’s all I can say is that our mother India is a very strong woman. She will bear this with her legendary stoic courage and I am sure that we will come out stronger than ever before! Bharat Mata Ki Jai!


TESSIE said...

many pics which fall under the category u call "disturbing" are nothing but truth... why shud they be censored?
hyderabad issue polum ellarum athu kananam...
how some people suffer when others have a gr8 time....

Abraham Menacherry said...

To quote myself... "Is this type of reporting good? Yes, it is. Is it bad? Yes it is"

Your point is valid, I agree. It is just that my line of thinking is that if you have to show the pics, show it, but in the middle pages. If you have to show the clips show it, but dont re-run them a zillion times just highlighting the worst part. That is what I am against.

Rome was not built in one day, but it can be destroyed in one. Point is it is so very easy to destroy communal amity...try building it and you will see how hard it is!

anon said...

The problem lies when there is always a new news channel sprouting up every fortnight(btw not just english across the regional spectrum ) ..,
The easiest way to make money i guess nowadays is with some sensational news coupled with , an advert running thru the bottom , i guess that mints the dough .

So all of this channels in this age of cut throat competition , will try to up the ante , by any means necessary ,that means by showing adult content if necessary ..(sad but true )

but on reality if such kind of aggressive reporting was not there, we would probably wouldn't give it a serious thought ,
"but don't re-run them a zillion times just highlighting the worst part. That is what I am against."
i guess the only solution to that in this world ,would be switch the channel to something better or else turn the tele off ..., ;)


Abraham Menacherry said...

turning the tele off is the best idea i guess.

TESSIE said...

{cud not post it yesterday coz the "nice people at my office have denied access to commenting on blogs }

mmm... got ur point...

but i think they put the stuff on the front page to stress on the criticality...and not destroy the communal amity by saying " a muslim did this" killing " this many hindus"....

today's world is so damn selfish.. nobody "wastes" their time thinking abt "wht if am in tht situ?"....

so... such incidents can be eye-openers for those who really wanna make the wolrd a better place to live in...

god help the others....

and abt the "adult content" thing, are the kids being spared from any sort of suffering just because they are not old enuf for it?

if so, why is the rate of flesh trade so high in india? and why is the no. of children abused at a very young age increasing day by day?

wnt a li'l bit of awareness make a li'l difference?

world is not a very "safe plc"... so why shud the media paint a pretty face for it... for the sake of "not disturbing the peace and harmony"?

will everyone start living like in some of those mushy mallu movies abt "MADHASOUHAARDAM" just becos they are not aware of such incidents happening elsewhere?

ain't some of us atleast raising our voices against it just because of those telecasts?

and why the hell am i making such a lot of fuss abt all this when i am in office and not even supposed to be accessin this site ;)?

(p.s: i love debating even if it is abt NOTHING )

@anon: do u have a blog????
and why this whole anon thing :O?

Abraham Menacherry said...

Tess: *claps* you just won the longest comment award at rants and ramble...:).

Thank u for accessin and puttin in such a big comment even after all the "pinthiripans" at your place banned the site.

We teach children fairy tales, we used to teach adults communal amity thru mushy movies. We still teach fairy tales to the kids, but nobody has time for the latter now. Good, yes! Bad, yes!