Hard Knocks: Ban terrorism coverage

15 Sep,2011

Knock, knock. Before you get into the blog, here’s an intro. It was meant to be a one-sentencer, but it’s turned to be a loooongish one. Anil Thakraney is an adman-turned-journalist living mostly in Mumbai, but sometimes in Bengaluru or Nashik. Or for a few days in a year or two: London. Many moons ago, he would edit The Brief:, an ad magazine that the adfrat loved to hate or hated to love. Well, they loved it and hated it. The Brief: was unceremoniously shut, but Thakraney had tasted the thunder. He went on to subject all and sundry to his interviews and stings (and stinging interviews) at Mid-Day and later with Mumbai Mirror. He was even editor of Mid-Day’s Bengaluru edition for a bit.

When I joined the exchange4media group in 2008, I got Thakraney, a former colleague and friend, to write reviews and interviews. It was only natural that when I thought of launching MxMIndia, I asked him to be our Editor-at-Large. Do a blog, write reviews, interview the biggies. Etc, etc. Publishing Thakraney’s blog was like wearing a near-red shirt in a bull ring. But, heck, he’s one of the bestest writers on medialand. His views, most often contrarian, are interesting. I enjoyed reading his hat ke views today, and I am sure you too will. As for those who are at the receiving end of his commentary, I can only say: dil mein mat lena yaar! – Pradyuman Maheshwari

Without much ado, Hard Knocks. By The Anil Thakraney:

I am aware this is a heretical thing to say. And it goes against all tenets of good journalism. But drastic times call for drastic measures, as it’s said. I really think time has come for the owners of the mass media, in particular the TV channels and the newspapers, to come together and shun exhaustive coverage of bomb blasts and other terror attacks.


And I propose this seemingly preposterous idea because the biggest source of motivation for terrorists is to sit back and watch (with beer and popcorn for company… the 76 virgins will have to wait) the hectic media blast of their actions. This 24×7 coverage not only provides oxygen to their deeds, it also encourages other terrorists to join the party. And their message of hatred quickly gets spread all over the world, free of cost. And sometimes, as it happened on 26/11, the TV coverage aids them directly in their planning and execution. In short, the media unwittingly ends up providing a huge bang for their buck.


I wonder if their enthusiasm levels will remain the same if the oxygen supply is cut off. If they are ignored like petty pickpocketers. If they don’t get the bhav they currently get. I suspect it will be a setback for these buggers.


So then what about the role of journalism, you ask? Isn’t it the duty of the media to inform the janata on what’s happening? How can the media ignore such a huge story? These are valid questions. But maybe for the greater good, these need to be compromised. I think a bomb blast should get a tiny slot in the coverage, as would a road rage incident. So people DO know it happened, but there’s no accompanying drama around it. The terrorists will deem this to be an insult to their work. And that’s a good thing, no?


Yup, I know traditional journos and media barons will immediately scoff at this idea. Because it sounds crazy. But once the laughter dies down, they would do well to chew on it. Because often for difficult problems we need to search for lateral solutions. Especially when the horizontal and the vertical ones have failed. And especially when you are operating inside a soft state called India.

PS: There’s this ad which the Pak government recently released in theUSpress. It would have won an award at Cannes for sure. But they screwed up a bit with a small typo. The headline should have read: ‘WHICH COUNTRY CAN DO MORE FOR YOUR PIECES?’



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One response to “Hard Knocks: Ban terrorism coverage”

  1. Subir Ghosh says:

    Doesn’t work as an enforced rule. At the most it can be a question of principles of an individual organisation. It’s just like throwing the baby with the bathwater.