December 1, 2008

Lessons from the Mumbai Terror tragedy - Too Many Voices (Part 3/4)

What went wrong - Too many Voices:
Perhaps there is a hesitation to setup a unified command in any situation, because any lapse in judgement would be 'pinned' on the authority-figure in command. So, we saw people come, go in, rush out - and claim their credit immediately, and precautionarily, before anything untoward could happen following their involvement. Meanwhile, noone from the public got the impression of any one person being in charge, and even the people who gave the interview were frequently misinformed.

: There should be just one voice - or maybe two; Centre & State - giving responses, to the press and issuing statements and updates. A strict Gag-order must be enforced and any leaks/unofficial statements must be promptly and categorically addressed as 'Unofficial' before they become the sensational sub-story that whips up passion and creates pressure on the agencies to meet the public's expectation of justice.

'Ind'eally: Indian journalism doesn't score very high on ethics as it is. And it has been ages since a newpaper or a media-house was regarded for it's honest unbiased reporting, without any 'leanings'.

Given that, and the shamelessly headline-hungry hacks who are the present face of the Indian Press - especially those of New Media - it is difficult to expect that the press will attain enlightenment overnight, and begin responsible journalism instead of sensational gossip-mongering or stop claiming to be the 'voice of the masses'/'keeping a check on the polity' instead of realizing it's true calling as a builder of society, acting in the joint interest of the people and the powers, not the people versus the powers.

What we need are media-savvy departments, who realize realize the impact of their words, and who talk in clear factual terms - not giving information until it is appropriate and verified, also also, importantly, who have the cojones to say "No" "Until it becomes clear" or even "I cannot divulge that information", instead of giving opinions and hazarding guesses and increasing the confusion. If there is a strong voice booming out the Official line, the press will have to faithfully report it and the people will also know where
to turn to and whom to ask of.

s is post 3 of a 4part article. Read Part 1: Introduction Part 2: Too Many Heroes Part 4: Too Little Practice
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MJ said...

Awesome work!! More than often, its the 'mouth' that causes the most pain, being a dentist, I'm sure you would agree!!


Tragicomix said...

Spot on! Man.... look at the CM of Kerela. Thats bloody shameful!

Mahen said...

The New age media of India leaves a lot to be desired. I seriously wonder whether any of the journalists get any training at all. I mean they behave worse then street dogs in fighting to get a "breaking news" sound byte. And the producers of shows have no intelligence what so ever abt how to handle a crisis situation. These are the ppl who hv to decide what goes on air and what does not, but NO, in India everything goes on air. The anchors blurt out whatever they feel like when dealing with a LIVE situation. Again i wonder if they have got any training to deal with such situations.

The media in US and EU showed restraint when covering the terrorist attack on their soil. Their coverage and analysis was through, though, mind you. None of the channels missed out on anything critical which other channels showed. They only ensured that the producer(s) gave approval bfr anything was showed. Aptly, the media of US and EU were lauded. This is how media gains respect and trust. Not by showing sensational stuff and screaming at top of their voices. How many of us trust the media? Especially the channels who shamelessly came out with ads stating that the viewer ship was maximum on their news channel during Attack on Mumbai. I for one trust only one News channel, the channel which has been in business for long and has not yet stooped low on its principles. They concentrate on their coverage of NEWS and not what their competition is doing.

Tragicomix said...

Yeah, NDTV- i think that what you mean, is much better than the others - i think Aaj Tak is the worst, and TimesNow is the english Aaj Tak....but even Barkha Dutt of NDTV was getting on my nerves this time. She portrays this very angelic front, but i somehow get the feeling she shoves the little people away and concentrates on the Media-"worthy" people.....

Tragicomix said...

This isn't the first with Barkha - it happened in Kargil too.....infact, Barkha's reporting in Kargil was so much of a problem to the army that they actually whined that SHE stop giving away troop locations. But, i guess anything goes for a Journalist Of The Year award :-)
Personally, i like Srinivasan Jain and Vishnu Som the best, and Pranoy Roy of course.

Tragicomix said...

I think a 15-30second delay in the "LIVE" programming will go a long way in making sure irresponsible shit doesn't reach our screens...

They use that feature a lot on Sports channels- like on NBA telecasts to make sure all profanity can be safely bleeped or any violence or obscene thing in the crowd can be cut-out.

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This work by Dinesh Swamy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.