Mint editor R. Sukumar on the coverage of the July 13 Bombay blasts by TV newschannels:
“As a journalist, what made me really angry was the way television channels covered the blasts. For some time now, the channels have been trying to convince anyone who cares to listen that they have reformed and that, if a terror attack were to happen, they would not cover it the way they did 26/11.
“The events of 13/7 prove beyond doubt that nothing has changed.
“Reporters and anchors displayed none of the restraint that was expected of them. The coverage was, at best shallow and immature and at worst, melodramatic and hysterical. And, at least to this writer, it looked as if the reporters for most TV channels wanted policemen responding to the emergency on 13 July to speak to them first and then go about their work.
“Between them, the channels made a strong case for something I have been vehemently arguing against: Media regulation. I have always believed that newspapers, news websites, and TV channels need to regulate themselves.… I am not as sure now.”
The Indian Express expresses a different view in an editorial:
“While TV channels were freely fantasising about the strike in an information vacuum, giving away vital details on air and plonking every nerve about the human tragedy of 26/11, their response [on 13/7] has been relatively dignified and restrained this time. The urgency of breaking news has not vaporised all editorial filters, nor has the sense of competition led them into wild error. If they seemed to be winging it for major parts of 26/11 coverage, this time round, they seem to have internalised a rough emergency protocol.
“They largely stuck to the facts as they were gleaned, and conducted sober interviews with officials and political leaders. The reason TV channels are expected to act with utmost care is because they can be so easily exploited by terrorists. If terrorism creates the bang, 24-hour news TV brings in the echo and reverberation.
“If our TV channels have come to realise that their outsized power must come with stronger internal checks, then that’s a highly welcome development.”
Read R. Sukumar’s article: Blasts and the press
Read the Indian Express edit: As seen on TV
Also read: Why Mint didn’t run the Niira Radia tapes
Vir Sanghvi lashes out at Mint ‘censorship’
I’ll go with R Sukumar’s views in The Mint.
Totally in agreement with R Sukumar, especially these words, “Reporters and anchors displayed none of the restraint that was expected of them. The coverage was, at best shallow and immature and at worst, melodramatic and hysterical. And, at least to this writer, it looked as if the reporters for most TV channels wanted policemen responding to the emergency on 13 July to speak to them first and then go about their work.”
This is why I’ve been on a ‘TV news’ diet – avoiding them for a few months – and I certainly feel that I am less irritated and emotional about many things in life.
The only TV news channel that I do watch now is DD news; and the occasional debates on the ‘Lok Sabha Channel’!
You should all try it too – it’s a good way to be informed, without that depressing feeling of hopelessness.