Anil Thakraney: Are reporters adequately trained?

03 Jul,2013

By Anil Thakraney


If you happen to know this dude called Narayan Pargaien, please tell him never to come face to face with me. If he does, I am going to sit on top of his shoulders and make him give me a ‘lift’ when Mumbai’s streets get flooded with gutter water. In case you haven’t heard, not only did this News Express reporter do something totally disgusting in flood ravaged Uttarakhand, he has brought global disrepute to the entire Indian media, the world press is busy sniggering at us. (The firangs love, love, love stories like this from Incredible India.) Here’s the link to his shameful deed:


This incident reminds me of another equally sickening one I personally witnessed in Nagapattinam, in the after-math of the tsunami. A TV reporter found a very old woman wailing by the beach, she had lost her entire family. Our chap started filming her, and began demanding she wail harder so that it looks ‘good’ on television. He even encouraged the unfortunate lady to beat her own chest. Even better television!


I hope the rest of the Indian television reporters conduct themselves better on the field, but such incidents are a reminder of the woefully poor quality of training that happens in the media companies. We like to call ourselves ‘The Vibrant Indian Media’, but do all these channels/portals/newspapers bother to educate their reporters before letting them loose? I seriously doubt it. Pargaien has been sacked, but is that the solution? This is like punishing the traffic havaldar who got caught for accepting a fifty buck bribe, and hoping that the problem is solved.


Most Indian media barons are reeling because of cash crunch, we are all aware of that, but they simply have to find a way to invest in training so that their reporters and cameramen conduct themselves with dignity while covering a story. Despite the mad rush for ratings and scoops, there have to be specific dos and don’ts outlined with a clear warning: Follow them or get out. Each media company must never forget one hard truth: If your staffer behaves shoddily, it directly damages your brand’s name, since he/she is representing you to the public. Therefore ignore training at your own peril.


PS: This outdoor campaign from IBM scored big at Cannes this year. Richly deserved, I say. Such a simple but powerful idea. While Balki envies work done for Gujarat Tourism, this is the sort of work that makes me feel jealous.



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


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