Friday, February 19, 2010

Responsible media - a new oxymoron

ATNC, an ordeal of 40 hours is over. ATNC, the man who holed himself up in his home for over two days was a University topper in Maths. Also ATNC, he was mentally disturbed. Further, ATNC, he had 30 bullets and a gun with him.
Oh sorry, ATNC means According To News Channels.
Without getting into all the details, I will come straight to the point. Just in case you have managed to stay away from the Hindi entertainment on TV aka news channels, you can see it here.
It seems that the police thought of a smart strategy of sending this fellow's friend with a cup of tea to meet him. Now, what's so smart about that? Aha! The cup of tea was laced with a sedative. Unfortunately for the cops, the man was in no mood for a cuppa and opened fire at his friend too. Thankfully, the good samaritan escaped unhurt.
You still haven't figured out what's weird in all this? Well, the channels were screaming this story all over the news even when this drama was going on. Now it is not clear whether this fellow had access to a TV inside his home, but what if he had? Can we be sure that he wasn't listening to this piece of news about HIMSELF all the while? Its now a well-known fact that the handlers of 26/11 were conveying the movements of security forces outside to the terrorists. The media has also received enough flak for this.
This Lucknow incident may be small in comparison, but it just proves that neither our police nor our media are learning anything from the past.
Or were the cops smart enough to also cut the cable connection from outside? I just hope so. I can't be completely sure because... well, you read it for yourself. I am quoting straight from a news report of this incident. I can't decide whether this is funny or sad. You try.

The man fired five rounds. And started shouting that he would kill everyone outside.
At 10.30 am .... a drill machine was used to make a hole in the terrace to put in a light bulb so that he could be monitored. He broke the bulb.
At 11:30 am on Friday, police spoke to a team of doctors, including the Chief Medical Officer of Lucknow and decided to make him unconscious and then capture him.
At 1 pm, two more fire engines were called in to use water pressure to overpower him. He stood next to the door to avoid the water pressure.
At 2 pm, the police tried making him unconscious by using gas.
On Thursday morning too, the police had tried hard to coerce him into coming out. They sent a friend of the man's with a cup of tea laced with tranquilizers to his room. When the friend approached the locked door, the shooter opened fire. His friend escaped unhurt.
Later, the police tried to drill a small hole in one of the walls of the man's room. They hoped to throw a teargas shell into the room. Instead, the man shot bullets through the hole at the police. An officer was shot in the hand.


Hari said...

I followed this incident and am wondering whether we are pointing the finger at the wrong group. When a situation like this happens law enforcement should take charge and set the table and the parameters. I would blame the police more than I would the media in this case.

Pushkaraj said...

@ Hari - Entirely agree with you. After 26/11, Rajdeep Sardesai had argued on the same grounds; that the authorities should have been more discrete. That's the media point of view, and will always be.
I have said in my post "neither our police nor our media are learning anything from the past".

Asif said...

Yeah even I was following the whole incident and it is rightly said that neither the police nor the media are learning anything from the past.
But if we sit down to find out exactly who is doing the bigger mistake, can't we identify the obvious culprit?
I do agree that Indian police is not so efficient in handling such things but at least they are trying in their own ways but what is media doing? Instead of helping the police , the media is creating big problems for them.
Every channel now a days is sensationalising even simple things by showing the same story in a much colourful way every 5 minutes and displaying the scroll continuously as breaking news or as flash news etc etc. Aren’t we all aware of the simple fact that they are actually doing such a thing for their own channel popularity?
To what extent the police can control the media in such cases? Even if the police stops the media, the media people might misuse their rights. Isn’t it happening all around us?
I’m sorry to say this but the media people should realize their own social and moral responsibility as well.
Yellow journalism is in fact a very big problem to deal with.

P.S. These days for a person to watch some news channels on TV or to know the latest news, cable is not the only way. Even if the police cut down the cable, Wireless internet and wireless dishTVs are in fact helping a lot for such a cause. Hence cutting down the cable can never be a full solution in such cases.
Apart from cutting the cable connection, if the police can use the signal blocker to block both the mobile signals as well as broadcasting signals in that area then it can help not only to control the media personnel from broadcasting the news from that point but also in controlling the accessibility of internet and TV in that particular area.

Pushkaraj said...

@ Asif - I couldn't have put it in a more succinct manner than you have, thanks! Yes, the police have to battle on two fronts; the situation as well the media, while the media only have to push their own TRP ratings. That's the catch. Another irony (I seem to be catching on ironies lately!) is that the TRP ratings go a notch up when people like you and me watch this trash. At least, I am glad that there are forums where we can vent out bile about it.
Your point about cable connection is absolutely valid. There are multiple channels for people to access, and it is getting increasingly difficult to stop things from leaking out. And once it leaks, there is no way to stop it.

rashmi singh said...

true e-media has become an entertainment channel-previously one hd 2 seek out things from the police but now there is one more "irresposible and overenthusiastc media"

Shas said...

Responsible media no longer exists. Its only consumerism that rules them.

Pushkaraj said...

@ Rashmi Singh and @ Shas - Thanks. I am not completely convinced that responsible media do not exist anymore. Watch BBC news? Do they ever report things in such manner? Maybe Indian media is still an evolving industry still. The channels get their revenue not because you and i watch them. They get them from advertising spots. But why do companies advertise on some channels and not on some other channels? Because you and me watch some channels! That's the vicious circle.
Take India TV as a case. Nonsense reporting to the extreme. But gets lot of ad spots. Compare it with something like 9x news. Much more responsible (at least, till the time I watched it till recently!) How many ad spots do they attract? Hardly!

Anonymous said...

Being a Journalism student myself, I totally understand your point about the media. Sensationalizing has become a plague which is rendering all media senseless. I don't know what to say about the cops though.... That was bovine, to say the least!And it doesn't look funny to me; makes me raging mad that these are the people who are supposed to protect us...

Prateek said...

Lovely blog Pushkaraj, please grab ur award from here,


Pushkaraj said...

@ miilee - I understand your being peeved at such journalism. We can all hope for a better and more sensible journalism in the future - and people like you can make it happen! Thanks.
@ Prateek - Whoa. Thanks man!