Thursday, January 27, 2005

The 24-hour irritation

The so-called 24-hour news channels have become more a source of irritation than one of information. Among the worst irritant are the scenes of any tragedy that are being repeatedly telecast by these channels. In their bid to catch the news "hot" there is not an iota of consideration to the impact of certain crude images may have on the vast masses who are watching the channel.
The latest one, after the tsunami of course, is the coverage on Manidiradevi Devi temple stampede in Wai in Satara district, Pune. The repeated focussing on the dead lying on the road coveys more a feeling of revulsion than one of horror or pity.
The worst of the coverage are the news presenters, who akin to us are watching the events unfold for the first time, but are forced to quiz the reporter on the spot for want of more news ( or is it that they are instructed to stretch the conversation to show better coverage??) and end up asking some stupid questions.
One classic example was cited by a Sri Lankan TV news reporter who presented a "byte" for Headlines Tdoay on the tsunami wreckage in Galle district. ***..............I get connected to the anchor. First he mangles my name. Then he asks me what I think the total death toll is GOING TO BE. (Not what it's at right then)Man I was pissed. Had a few questions I wanted to ask him...a) Do I look like the bloody Holy Seer of Colombo to you? What else do you want me to predict momma's boy? Like who you're going to get married to?b) Is this like some cricket match? Why's everyone dying to know the fucking score? In that case Sri Lanka seems to have soundly beaten both Indonesia and India.But I didn't. I just told him that I expect the final death toll be in the higher 6,000s. End of story. ..***
No, am not telling that such 24-hour channels are a worthless lot nor are all those presenters in the studios are dull-heads. But they could surely do more to it by giving it a 15-minute break between each of their news telecast... yes, jus a 15-mintue break.
Such a short recess will give the news presenter to look up more facts personally rather than reading out the text scrolling in front of him. He would be able to gather himself to understand the impact of the event and would be able to ask some better questions and clarifications to the reporter on the field.
And it would undoubtedly help the reporter on the field,who instead of repeatedly jibbering off with whatever little facts he manages to collect within that time for the non-stop bulletin, would be able to contact more people and can form a better idea of himself rather than going by the police or Govt statements. More so, he may not have to tackle certain stupid questions from the desk once these people get the hang of what's going on.

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