Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crises and Media - Part 2

'BREAKING NEWS'. Almost every statement becomes breaking news. Any statement - ratified or otherwise becomes breaking news. In the mad rush to be the first to bring news to the people, our newscasters broadcast anything and everything. Insensitive to the carnage at hand, with a mission to sensationalize everything they see.

Like I'd said before, why do we, the common people need to know full details including vantage points of the commandos in a rescue operation? I would exhort all news channel reporters to please read at least some spy novels by Ludlum or John Le Carre. That would suggest to them the degree of preparedness in terms of technology terrorists can get into. Forget sat phones. Everyone would have a cell phone. Is it difficult for an accomplice to send a message like ' Fourth floor - right corner'??? These news channels can be viewed all over the world, and the least the security forces can ask for, is the comfort of carrying out their operation in peace. But no. Our reporters treat a hostage situation like a Tamasha. They herd around the site of the attack and a handful of Rapid Action Force personnel are needed to control that crowd! Tomorrow, God forbid, if a stray bullet kills a journalist, there will be unending discussions on the callous behavior of security personnel!!!

Around noon yesterday news channels were blacked out here. There was a massive hue and cry on the same. Today's papers have carried a report on the same, wherein Ravi Singh, VP Cable Operators Distribution Union has said that this move was uncalled for, since the news channels were carrying vital information about hostages to their near and dear ones. He also said that the blackout was responsible for the rumors about renewed firing in other parts of Mumbai like CST and Marine Lines. As a resident aware of what was being broadcasted and what was actually happening, I would like to clarify that a couple of news channels went on air with the rumors and then the blackout was implemented. As for vital information to near and dear ones, save for a scrolling list of rescued hostages, there was no information forthcoming! Besides, what could they have relayed???? NSG didn't know the location of the hostages, how were these reporters to know? And messages from near and dear ones to the hostages? Hahaha, cable connections were cut in the hotels from the start of the operation.

So, the fact remains that media persons were out for their pound of flesh no matter what the cost. They wanted their face to be associated with gruesome images, heroic images, the cost to hostages and security personnel notwithstanding. Later in the evening, the Naval chief went on air to say that the terrorists had blackberries (d-uh, who doesn't these days???) and so they were constantly monitoring the media and perhaps media overexposure might have affected the mission. Vindication to my earlier post!

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