Anil Thakraney: Amnesiac Indian media

21 Dec,2012

By Anil Thakraney


How many of you remember the rape and brutal murder of the Dalit girl in Khairlanji? Am sure some of you do. How many of you are aware of the current status of that criminal case? Perhaps very few of you. And how many of you can recall the victim’s name? I would hazard a guess and say probably none of you. And this is just one example of how, as a nation, we quickly forget about such big tragedies. Sadly, the same fate awaits the poor girl who got viciously attacked inside the Delhi bus. And who’s to blame for this? The memory loss suffering desi media, of course.


So then why is it that we journalists don’t bother to do rigorous, sustained follow-ups on such important stories, why do we quickly move on to the next one? (The Gujarat election result has already hijacked the Delhi incident.) The reason for that is the training our editors give us from a very young age. Right from the start it’s ingrained in us to always be topical, to always dig into the latest, hottest news, to always churn out fresh content. So that you remain one-up on the rivals. It’s also assumed that the public tires out from repeated coverage of the same story. I have personally witnessed editors striking down stories because they were too ‘old’.


The way this nation is going downhill in many respects, I am beginning to feel there is an urgent change required in the ideology of ‘new, new news’. Editors need to reboot their strategies, they must encourage their reporters and deskies to keep a regular track of significant stories, right till the point they reach their logical end. Perhaps restructuring of the newsroom is required, so that one set of journos cover the topical stuff, and the others cover continuing stories. After all, readers and viewers have never said they don’t wish to consume ‘old’ news, the ‘latest news’ approach has become a default operating programme inside newsrooms.


And sustained coverage will keep the pressure points alive. No criminal will ever rest in assurance with ‘mamla thode din ke baad thanda ho jaayega’. It’s time for some doggedness in the newsrooms. Let’s get stuck into these slime balls, and let go only after justice is served. We owe this to the nation.




PS: Last week, the popular US TV comedy show, Saturday Night Live, took a break from their regular jokes, and opened with a touching tribute to the dead kids of Newtown school. It features the New York City Children’s Chorus singing “Silent Night.” Good thinking.


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