The television news channels have become a curse. They come in the way of news. They are a nuisance to people affected by the serial blasts or any other calamity. All that the TV-wallahs want is sound bites. So, Barkha Dutt anchored the reportage on the blasts standing at Greater Kailash M-market, which is a stone's throw away from the NDTV centre. She talked to an ambulance driver before letting him go and do his job. She talked to Delhi mayor Arti Mehra before she let her go to Karol Bagh. Then she spoke to little child, and asked whether he saw the blasts. When he said that he did not, she let him go.
Meanwhile, she spoke to BJP's Arun Jaitley, Congress' Kapil Sibal, and discussed the political resonance of the blasts. All this she could have done sitting in the studio. But then the channel had this market compulsion to say that we report events from the middle of the happening place.
Quite frankly, viewers are going to see through this bogus oneupmanship. It is quite certain that other channels must have been more brutal than NDTV in prcolaiming that they do not believe in good manners.
There is something terribly wrong with these TV rookies. They do not seem to know when to discuss and analyse and when to report. And the standard question they ask people is the philosophical, literary one of "Take us through what has happened." Now, ordinary people in the aftershock of a blast are unlikely to recollect in tranquillity the traumatic event. They are plainly shell-shocked.
Perhaps TV journalists need to be given an education in the etiquette of reporting disasters. The first thing they have to learn is to respect people going through a shock. Ask minimum questions, show the scene but do not ask them to give poetic description of the scene of disaster. And never, never analyse a disaster even as it is unfolding. To do so is utter foolishness.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
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