Anil Thakraney: Uttarakhand disaster: TV anchors screw-up yet again

21 Jun,2013

By Anil Thakraney


You know who’s the biggest moron in this world? The man who reaches a building on fire, stands outside and wants to discuss in detail with those trying to douse the flames exactly what was the cause of the inferno, and who screwed up.


Don’t know if this occurs to them, but some of the news channel wallahs have been doing exactly this on the Uttarakhand calamity. My friends in television must understand that their job differs from the newspaper editors when it comes to covering natural disasters or terror attacks. As the disaster strikes and the aftermath plays out, television journos must do one and only one thing: Focus on the 3Rs… rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations. And only discuss the whodunit and the whydunit after some amount of normalcy has been restored, after the victims have limped back to safety. This is because television is a live medium, it carries immediacy of news. But instead of doing this, on prime time, some news channels got those usual crappy, noisy debates going, to pin responsibility on who was behind this ‘man-made’ disaster.


Just think about this: What if one of my friends or relatives is marooned in Kedarnath right now? Frantic, I would be madly surfing the news channels to see how folks are being rescued, and would hope get some details of the persons stuck out there. Or, god forbid, discover if the individual dear to me is gone. In fact, this is how a BBC would go about things. Instead, I see star anchors in a free-for-all with netas and the usual studio guests. Can you blame me then if my blood goes on the boil?


While newspapers and magazines can and must cover a natural disaster with a 360-degree view, television has to cover the story step by step, and only shift gears at the right time. The question is: Why aren’t the idiot box runners doing the obvious thing? I can think of two reasons. One, perhaps because they are idiots. Or two, the anchors are convinced that shouting and screaming inside studios is the only way to gain ratings, whatever be the subject. You are free to pick the right reason.




PS: An eerie anti drink driving campaign from the UK, one that might give you a heart attack in the pub itself. If they try this out in the Indian pubs, I suggest using only male mannequins. Else the BMC lady will object.




Anil Thakraney is a senior journalist and commentator. He is also Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached via Twitter at @anilthakraney


Post a Comment 

One response to “Anil Thakraney: Uttarakhand disaster: TV anchors screw-up yet again”

  1. Vipul Dhasmana says:

    Bang on the point. Rescue, relief and rehabilitation comes last, as the endless debates take priority, is what TV Journalism is all about, in this case. Sorry to comment but as a veteran print, electronic and new media journalist, i must advise my brethren to see into this matter.