Anil Thakraney: Hysterical news channels

06 Jul,2012

By Anil Thakraney


On Wednesday noon I got a serious jolt. Was in the middle of some work, and during the quick lunch break I switched on the TV to check if there was any khabar on the heavy downpour in Mumbai. What I saw instead made the food plate drop out of my hands. All the news channels were going ballistic over the discovery of a ‘suspicious looking’ object inside a Lokhandwala Complex (Mumbai) mall. Even as the police was busy sussing that mysterious object, it was being freely referred to as a ‘suspected bomb threat’. In fact, close-up shots of the damn thing were being flashed.


Totally panicked, I frantically got onto the phone to alert family members who live in the vicinity (and am sure many people did ditto), and then rushed back to the television set. Suddenly, instead of the bomb threat, all the news channels were hectically ‘breaking news’ on the Indian cricket team’s selection for the up-coming Sri Lanka ODI series! And I was like: Arre, bomb ka kya hua, behenji?


I had to strain my eyes to read the fast moving ticker. Which, very quietly, indicated that it was only a false alarm. Meanwhile, of course, many weak hearted sods (like me) had to endure a great deal of stress. Now this is worrying. It’s clear that not many lessons have been learnt from the past, and that the news channels are busy making the same goof ups. It’s back to alarm-raising and hysteria. (Also, I later discovered this led to intense rumour mongering all over the city.)


Guys and gals, it’s simple, really. No ‘God Particle’ science, see? Maybe we should hold the news till some sort of an official statement is made by the cops? Maybe the media needs to let the investigators do the initial work in peace, that of determining what the ‘suspicious looking’ object is? So that people don’t needlessly panic. And most importantly, the same old disturbing question: What public service is being served by such ultra hurried, speculative reporting? Correct, the answer is none.


Frankly, I really don’t know if and when we’ll get our act together on terror coverage. I guess our news channels simply cannot resist going live at the very first hint of terror. In which case, there’s no hope at all. Keep your pace maker on stand-by.


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PS: Hahaha. Really enjoyed this series of comic strips on the advertising life. Hit this link only if you belong to the crazy world of advertising, because only then you’ll be able connect with these situations. Yep, we ad buggers have lived each one of these moments! Awesome stuff.




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