An open letter to Barkha Dutt and her ilk

To BD (and others of your ilk who live by, for and off TRP)

I wonder how you will feel on reading an outsider's view of the immaturity shown by Indian channels - Attack Coverage Tests India's Nascent News Channels "Live Showings of the 60-Hour Siege Get High Viewership and Mixed Reviews; Hyperbole, Security Among Concerns"

Your TV coverage of the events of last week have shown that you and your ilk may feel for the public, but your ultimate interest is to cause sensation and improve your TRP ratings. Where once you were worthy of admiration - now one feels pity that you, who can form and lead opinion, gave in to publicity of the cheap variety. Where once your (BD's) 'We the people' was expectantly awaited- now the channel is heartily skipped, let alone your programme.

And one dreads to read and see news that you and your channel have won (or should it read 'gave yourselves'?) this award and that for covering these sad events. Indian visual media journalists and a few print journalists who worry more about page-3 non-issues need several lessons in sensitivity. No harm in learning them ASAP.

Do think about the following, once each of you have had a chance to catch your breath, and are no longer holding the mike, or poking it insensitively into a victim's face.
1. How can news be broken several times? If one channel has broken it, it cannot be broken again by the same channel or any other.
2. How can the same news be broken throughout the day and night? If you try to, you are crushing, grinding and making further mincemeat of it, and miss out on SUBSTANCE.
3. The 24X7 (pun intended) culture has done and continues to do much more harm than good.
4. You are instrumental in ensuring that public memory is indeed short - you'll soon find a celebrity or other page-3 non-issue to add colour to your channel even before the ashes of the victims have cooled. I challenge you to keep away from ads, Bollywood and cricket for a whole month.
5. If you need lessons on journalism, take them from Cho Ramaswamy (you must surely have heard of him), who prints his magazine 'Thuglaq' without support from anyone, least of all corporates - and he has a faithful and very critical following.

Each one of you 'intelligent fools' competed successfully to prove these words of E.F. Schumacher - "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction."


See an outsider's view of the immaturity shown by Indian channels - Attack Coverage Tests India's Nascent News Channels "Live Showings of the 60-Hour Siege Get High Viewership and Mixed Reviews; Hyperbole, Security Among Concerns"

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