Saturday, July 14, 2012

When the Media sold its Conscience for TRP!


Guwahati is everywhere today: News Channels, Social Media. I hope that Assam is still the same place which I thought to be, and that a few weeds have grown because of ignorance of the caretakers. Praise showered on the region by mentions on the show of Satyamev Jayate looks hollow after this sorry incident. There are two angles to it: People and the Media. As I write about the role of media here, in no way do I support all those involved in this entire incident.
The incident around which this post is written occurs when a girl and her friend leave a pub in the city after having a party. A man outside the pub makes some obscene remark and when the girls protest, they are attacked by the men. The victim is manhandled, molested, stripped while her friend manages to escape. What shocks me more than anything is that the two reporters from the news channel recording the entire episode do nothing. After watching the actual program shown on the regional channel News Live, I have translated what the narrator speaks in Assamese [with my comments in Red]:
'A girl screaming on the streets of G S Road' [Didn't the two reporters hear those screams]
'Rape attempt on a girl studying in eleventh standard' [Would the reporters have stepped forward if the girl was someone they knew?]
'Hooliganism by youngsters on the streets of the capital lasting for an hour' [And the two reporters watched it for one whole hour!]
'Clothes of the helpless girl torn apart' [Isn't that what they wanted for the TRPs?]
'Screams of a girl on the streets of the capital at 10:00 PM' [The reporters were ready even at that hour with their cameras]
'Where is the police force of the city?' [So the reporters waited for the police?]
'People stood there like mute spectators' [Aren't the reporters people?]
'No one came forward to lend a helping hand' [I assume the reporters are handicapped in-order to themselves lend a helping hand.]
'The reality of the residents of the city finally out' [How about the reality of the Media?]
'Even though we don't want, we will show you the video' [This sentence was repeated. IF YOU REALLY DIDN'T WANT TO SHOW, YOU WOULDN'T. Why act so moral?]
'When you see the video, you will be filled with hatred' [And the reporters weren't filled with hatred when they saw it LIVE?]
'The girl is helplessly screaming, but the men are not satisfied' [Weren't they satisfied after getting enough footage of even ten minutes that they went on to shoot for an hour?]
'Now, the girls under garments are being removed' [Come on, what is this? Commentary of India - Pakistan match?]
'Our reporter is always trying to interrupt them, but he is helpless' [All the interruption one can see is the movement of the camera to get a better view of the incident and the girl. At some point they even zoom in from a close distance and try to move the hair from the girls face to get a better view!]
'Listen to what the girl has to say' [Didn't they have ears to listen?]
The victim says 'You also have sisters...' [During the editing of the video, this scene is made to repeat thrice in the nahi-nahi-nahi style of Saas-Bahu serials.]

The entire footage has been captured with nothing to obstruct the view of the girl. Culprits are seen behaving as if they are doing it for the camera! After some time when the girl tries to flee and asks for help from the passing vehicles, no one stops. The narrative goes on, "None of the people passing by in their luxurious cars stop to help her." [What has luxury to do when the reporters didn't have the conscience to help?]
Finally, when a few people could actually stop the atrocity, one of the reporters with a mic in his hand, asks questions: What is your name? Where do you stay? Which class and school do you study? [If the people running the channel had the least of their conscience left, why was this part shown? At the least, why weren't her answers beeped?] After the victim has divulged all her whereabouts herself on the camera, the channel reports, 'Our investigation reveals that...'

Wait, it is not all over. Let's come to the next program of the channel on the same incident. This time they deal on: Did the girl deserve this? All throughout the video, the girl is referred to as being drunkA footage is shown where the channel conducts an interview of a waiter at the pub where the girls supposedly were having a party. Questions asked to the waiter (in chronological order): How much  did the girls drink? How many pegs? What drinks did they take? The channel tries to prove that the victim lied that there was a party. Another footage (allegedly from a mobile phone) shows the friend of the victim arguing and even beating a guy. The question asked by the narrator is, "Where did these two girls get the courage to go out and drink at this hour of the night." Where in hell is it written that you will do this because someone drinks? Even if the girls lied about any party at the pub, how does it qualify the girls to be treated like that? As per that standard, the entire Media should be burned down for lying to so many people whenever it has happened in the past and happens in future.

This is still not enough for you? We have more. Let's now see what the editor-in-chief of the channel has to say through is Twitter account (his twitter handle: @atanubhuyan). Few of his tweets:
TRP : ramdhenu : 25.35, prime news : 26.69, newstime assam : 25.82, dy 365 : 154.69, rang : 169.79 and newslive 270.76 [Apparently the channel in question has the highest TRP. Mission accomplished.]
My justification is all very simple. In case of a bomb blast, my reporters would have shot the visuals rather than donate blood. [Even as per his standards of comparison, where is humanity? His reporters would rather shoot a video of someone dying than save a life? And no matter how much he justifies the reason of the reporter not helping the victim, he CANNOT justify the incident being shown on TV the way it has been shown and described here.]
Mainstream news channels are flooding me with phone calls asking for the footage of the molestation incident [Isn't this what he wanted? Read a part on mainstream media below.]
But I'm backing my team since the mob would have attacked them, prevented them from shooting, that would have only destroyed all evidence [Talking of evidence, he should have reached the police with it. He could have prevented the identity of the girl from being published all over. Wouldn't still pictures serve the purpose of evidence? He even went on to upload the video footage on YouTube as it is, as if his team has just shot an Oscar winning film!]

Mainstream Media: Yesterday night when I posted on Twitter about the role of media in all of this, someone replied back asking me why I was condoning the media when the identity of the girl has not been revealed. Her profile showed that she herself was from the news industry and so probably couldn't easily digest my comment. However, today morning when I saw the footage on CNN-IBN and NDTV, I could see the difference. The videos were sufficently blurred when compared to the one shown on the regional channel and on YouTube. The anchor on CNN-IBN starts the story by saying, "To caution you, the visuals you are going to see are disturbing..." Why do you show then?
Today, I have served myself with news for 45 minutes (CNN-IBN and NDTV) in the morning at home and 35 minutes (CNN-IBN) in the afternoon during my lunch at the office cafeteria. The total coverage of this incident, with one particular scene being continuously played in a loop no matter what the topic of discussion is, far outweighs the total coverage of the ensuing floods in the state in the last one month. The flood (worst in the last decade) has devastated the state killing hundreds of people, thousands of animals at a National Park, rendered thousands homeless, and affected over twenty lakh people!

Should I still say that some conscience of the media is left for sale?

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