Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Hungry Newsmen: Stop Crying Wolf
A few days ago, a well-known Indian TV news channel ran a story about an Indo-Chinese skirmish in Sikkim. "Indian and Chinese troops involved in a skirmish in Nathu La", said the ticker tape, followed by "More Indian troops being deployed at the border". I watched in disbelief as the channel then went on to make this headline news, complete with visuals of Chinese soldiers marching on snowy slopes.
Viewers were being led to believe that our nation was going to war. While the smug newsmen must have sat back to enjoy their soaring viewership, the only thing that shot up in my household was blood pressure.
Fortunately, my nerves of steel held out and I reasoned that the media is quite geographically challenged. It is probably never ever going to know the difference between Shillong and Sikkim, let alone Nathu La and North Sikkim. Besides, the footage shown looked nothing like Nathu La in recent times. Moreover, snow in August seemed quite implausible. A quick phone call confirmed my hunch: CNN-IBN has a bunch of irresponsible ignorant journalists. Nathu La was as peaceful as ever, with not even flies to swat at that altitude. Troops at Nathu La were themselves probably alerted about this ongoing "skirmish" through their TV sets like the rest of the country!
Once the smugness of my "I-so-knew-it" victory wore off, however, I felt some amount of anger against this section of irresponsible media. If this had been lawsuit-laden America, a bunch of very worried army families could have sued their feckless *bleeps* for causing undue emotional trauma. Even the visual of the fierce Chinese soldiers was old footage shot, and get this: not even at Nathu La.
Here's a note to all you viewership-hungry newsmen: how about some responsible reporting for a change? Check your facts and learn your geography before crying wolf! In your haste to outsmart and one-up rival channels, do ensure you don't come out looking like total jackasses. It will make all our lives just that much easier.
Oh, and if we want drama, we'll watch Colors, thank you very much.