Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai terror attack - Are there any standards in Journalism ?

A tragedy of epic proportions and an indication how far & deep has terror taken roots in our society. A city hostage for three days. Gunmen out loose at ordinary citizen

The terror attacks in Mumbai took hostages in the city and outside. Guests in the Taj, Oberoi & the Jewish houses, Mumbaikers in the city & Indians in country & the diaspora worldwide, all glued to any communication they could get from anywhere. News channels Indian & those worldwide, newspapers national & international and the Internet & all other media of communication, all hostage to sights of terror.

But as I watched, I wondered how many of those deaths were caused the footage hungry media and common-senseless politicians. Indian home minister Shivraj Patil gave the exact number NSG personal & commandos sent to counter terrorists & also, the exact time when the operation would began. Sorry, but that not called sending men for an operation. Its probably like sending then on a death mission. Don't these politicians have any respect, any concern for men who risk their lives for the country.

The rest of damage was done by news channels. They have long got over any sense of responsibility to anyone I think. Consider those live accounts of operations, 'the operation is now on this floor', 'this many policemen & commandos coming in with directions'. It was done better than the masterminds of operation would have ever imagined when they were planning this. They relayed coverage with accounts of guest's whereabouts in Taj leading to the killing of more than one. The story was repeated again at the hostage crisis in the Jewish house. 'Yes there are hostages, these are the details of the men hostage & our information on the terrorists inside'. And if that was not all, we were fed with the detail that the Indian police, army & commandos  have decided to tackle the Taj & Oberoi first so the terrorists in Jewish Center could take a nap & rest be fresh before the combat. Of course the media would give them a timely warning before the operation were to begin, complete with the visuals of helicopter dropping of commandos and the exact number.that were coming. 

Imagine being a terrorist inside the building, all that information directly playing on the TV in front of you, or maybe the smart phone with which you watch TV on the Internet or if all that was not possible just a normal phone and someone relaying all that live coverage for you.  When told not to broadcast in live we had a jerk jouralist on NDTV 24X7 tell that the footage is not live as requested by the army. He proudly went on to add that , 'Its delayed by 6 minutes'. 

All this makes me wonder at the standards of Indian journalism. Do these people not know what should be broadcast and what shouldn't ? Or, do we only have men who can talk along and those can take camera footage? All of them without an iota of commonsense.  Or maybe its worse than that. They know all this and they chose to ignore it for high TRPs (viewers ratings). It is eyeball hungry journalism with no regards for the ethics of profession.

Almost 200 people dead & number of those injured varying with accounts as the exact count is unverifiable. 
I feel sorry for all this but most of all I am sorry for the death of morality, ethics & standards in journalism. May it rest in peace. And I worry, for the repeat of all this when a moment of crises comes next, for the someone whose morality is dead, wouldn't even realise when they make the same mistake yet again.