HT’s series on medical malpractices

22 Nov,2011

By Ranjona Banerji

 

I have to congratulate the Mumbai edition of the Hindustan Times for its hard-hitting series on medical malpractices – particularly the way doctors take patients for a ride by prescribing any number of fake tests. Almost everyone I know has been a victim of this scam at some time or another and it is shocking the way it has proliferated. Well done to HT – we have so many stories telling us about some celebrity doctor importing some ground-breaking medical practice at some exorbitant price or about the dismal state of government hospitals. Both aspects are undoubtedly true. But it’s also necessary to highlight the problems within the medical community which in keeping with the zeitgeist appears to be greed!

 

I must admit to not being a fan of the Mumbai edition of Hindustan Times – being better than what DNA has become is hardly something to be proud of. On a normal day, The Times of India just whitewashes the competition with its total city coverage. But targeting issues which affect citizen and packaging them well is a time-tested and intelligent way of increasing reader interest and HT has done it well here.

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It is quite amusing to compare last night’s television to this morning’s newspapers. So while some channels decided to focus on the Special Investigation Team’s submission that the Ishrat Jahan encounter case was actually murder, others were taken by the BJP’s plan to boycott Union home minister P Chidambaram in the Parliamentary session. Mayawati’s quickfire session to chop Uttar Pradesh into four also got airtime as did Pakistan’s problems with what has been dubbed ‘memogate’.

 

The Times of India used the rupee’s downslide compared to the dollar as its lead tying into general economic woes, with Ishrat Jahan as second lead. Hindustan Times did a DNA and gave us everything – Mayawati as lead, then Ishrat, then NDA and Chidambaram with the rupee as a single col. The Indian Express has Anna Hazare and his wax likeness as a lead pic, with Ishrat Jahan as the lead, Mayawati second and the NDA boycott as third.

 

The Telegraph, Calcutta, stuck to a local story as lead, went with Pakistan and memo-gate as second lead and Ishrat Jahan as third.

So what then is “news”. The general news-entertainment channels would usually leave the rupee to the business channels so that could not be “news”. Besides it is almost impossible to have a sensational TV debate on the subject. Ishrat Jahan and Mayawati obviously deserved top billing. Pakistan’s memogate is one more in a list of problems to for most newspapers it was international page news. But Pakistan makes for TV drama, so it makes it there.

The NDA boycott possibly got stuck in the news spin cycle because the bigger story will be about Parliament was disrupted, not the announcement of the disruption plan.

 

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Having forced myself to watch NDTV, I was lucky to get a bit of a laugh when during Nidhi Razdan’s evening show, she played a clip of Srinivasan Jain’s interview with Anna Hazare. As is his wont, Hazare held forth on his normal procedure of flogging those who drink alcohol after being warned off three times and then taken to a temple the fourth time (I am guessing there are no Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs and Parsis and anyone else I’ve missed out on in Ralegan Siddhi). Jain, rather than question Hazare on this frankly outrageous practice, proceeded to repeat and expand on it, presumably for us who didn’t understand Hazare the first time around. Razdan was rightly outraged, but her guests – Manish Tiwari, Nirmala Seetharaman, Jyotirmay Sharma and Shoma Chowdhury were even appropriately very amused and could barely hold back their laughter at Hazare’s absurdity.

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By the day, did anyone read Shoma Chowdhury’s defence of all the allegations made against Tehelka? Too much explaining never works in journalism. Brazen defiance works better.  Therefore, a tedious read.

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