ಟಿವಿ ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತರಿಗೆ ನೀತಿ ಸಂಹಿತೆ ಬೇಡವೆ? ಅವರಿಗೆ ಬುದ್ಧಿ ಕಲಿಸುವವರ್ಯಾರು? - ಹೀಗೆ ನಾನಾ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳನ್ನು ರಾಜಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ ಕೇಳಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ರಾಜಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ, ಅವರೇ ಹೇಳಿಕೊಂಡಂತೆ - ಟಿವಿ ವೀಕ್ಷಕರು. ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಮುಂಬೈ ಘಟನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಟಿವಿ ವಾಹಿನಿಗಳು ಬಿತ್ತರಿಸಿದ ಪರಿಯನ್ನು ಖಂಡಿಸಿ ನೆಟ್ವರ್ಕ್ ಆಫ್ ವೊಮೆನ್ ಇನ್ ಮೀಡಿಯ ಸಂಪಾದಕರಿಗೆ ಒಂದು ಪತ್ರ ಬರೆದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಈ ನಿಟ್ಟಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಚರ್ಚೆಯಾಗುವ ಅಗತ್ಯವಿದೆ ಎಂದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಅವರ ಪತ್ರ ಪೂರ್ಣಪಾಠ ಇಲ್ಲಿದೆ.
The mayhem in Mumbai
A few thoughts on TV coverage, which I thought you could publish and start a
debate since I think it is high time we brought under TV channels under some
kind of regulation.
First of all, was it necessary to provide 24-hour coverage of the hostage
crisis? Did it do anything for the viewers, the security forces, the
helpless hostages, Mumbai city or the nation except to make matters worse
for all concerned? According to the security forces, the TV channels had
helped the terrorists and were directly responsible for the death of the
Times of India journalist who was staying on the top floor of the Taj Mahal
Hotel. At the end of the day, after all the hysteria, the maniacal coverage
by the hordes of TV reporters it was the newspapers which gave us a proper
picture of what was happening along with some expert views which helped us
to understand the gravity of the situation. If you went by the TV coverage
it was just another circus for them where the usual shrieking brigade which
plays to the gallery by taking to task the politicians, the security
agencies, neighbouring countries, etc had a field day – for four whole days.
Why do the police, the army and the NSG, which is very good at picking on
drivers in Delhi who stray into the path of VIP cars, not clear the TV
channels from the area of operations? In the Western world you will not find
TV reporters behaving like fish wives and sticking their microphones into
the faces of hostages just released, much less badgering the security
forces. The channels were so keen on providing coverage that they were
willing to risk the lives of their reporters.
Why is there no code of conduct for TV reporters? Surely, their performance
over the past decade has given us ample cause for concern? Why do the
channels not give their reporters some training? Instead we are subject to
unprofessional, unethical and insensitive reportage, forced to endure the
verbal diarrhoea of reporters who come across as extraordinarily banal. I am
aware that it is not easy to keep talking intelligently for more than three
minutes at a stretch so why go in for an exercise where one is talking
mindlessly for hours on end?
Besides, nowhere else in the world, not on CNN (incidentally their coverage
was the best in my opinion with a good mixture of analysis and news
coverage), BBC, AL Jazeera, Iran TV or whatever) will you find reporters and
anchors hectoring and castigating whoever they think deserves to be ticked
off. The liberties Indian TV news channels take with panellists, security
officials, politicians and viewers is simply appalling.
Unfortunately, it is the senior reporters/anchors who are the worst
offenders. We had one editor-in-chief who claimed friendship with one of the
unfortunate ATS top brass who were killed in Mumbai. And what does he tell
the world? That Ashok Kamte won a banana-eating contest in his college days!
Is there no sense of a time and place for such revelations? Is there no
sanctity for any of us even in death? Some of his interviews with those who
had managed to escape were unbelievably fatuous and inappropriate. "Did you
expect such a thing to happen here? (!) Do you plan to come back to India?"
God help us all.
Sanctimoniousness is sometime harder to stomach than plain stupidity.
Another editor who heads a rival channel and is fond of telling viewers how
moral his channel is and believes it is fine to hector those taking a
different stance was put in his place when two experts he had called in told
him all TV channels had played into the hands of the terrorists by their
nauseating and endless coverage of the hostage drama.
Yet another star, famous for her dangerous and witless reporting from the
trenches, put on a suitably grave expression verging on the tearful, but
turned out to be the most insensitive of them all. When she was not busy
sticking the mike into the faces of all and sundry, even relatives gathered
outside the Taj Mahal Hotel desperately waiting for some news of their
captive kin, she was yelling on camera to fellow reporters ("you shut up")
or badgering the security people. Last seen, she had brushed past protesting
policemen and paramedical staff at the Taj around noon today (Saturday 29)
when they had just begun to clear the bodies to show us the sights. "Look at
this window, look at the damage here" before she was chased off.
If TV channels cannot teach their employees how to conduct themselves like
professionals, we need to ask the government and the security agencies to do
so. This is not the best option but would seem justified in the
circumstances. The security agencies also need to be given a code of
conduct: where to keep the media in such situations (at a distance where
they cannot do damage to others and themselves) and who should be briefing
them and when.
One TV channel told an irate viewer who complained about the unprofessional
coverage of the terror strike that she had the option not to watch. Is that
I hope this letter will provoke some introspection and some remedial action.
(A network of women who are related to media and who are working towards responsive, responsible and gender sensitive journalism.www.NWMINDIA.ORG )