Former Chief Justice of India JS Verma has issued a new protocol for visual media in the country, in the wake of their contemptible coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks. If the proposed set of measures are complied with by the private television entities solemnly, then it would assuredly prevent a repeat of their wanton conduct during 26/11, and after.
Verma, in his report, states:
“News related to armed conflicts and communal violence should be shown with public interest in mind,” the guidelines said.
In case of a hostage situation, the guidelines said no details like identity or number of hostages should be telecast.
It also asked broadcasters to avoid unnecessary repetition of archival footage which may agitate the minds of viewers.
“Dignity of those who are killed should be kept in mind while such incidents are telecast,” the guidelines read.[Rediff]
The point regarding excessive repetition of archival footage is particularly irrefutable as TV channels have opportunistically broadcast past videos without a mention of “File footage”, in a bid to retain viewers. Repeat footage is distressing and the purposes with which it is replayed again and again are beyond comprehension.
The report spells doom for our favourite television anchors as their tragedy-time histrionics will be forcefully subdued and it is certain that a few are expected to be up in arms against the guidelines. Hopefully they will, in all their frivolous opposition of these instructions and rabid pseudo-championing of freedom of speech, at least obey the guidelines. Verma states that self-regulation is essential and the only flawless way of the media living up to its fourth-pillar-of-democracy role. And it is hence upto the mediapersons to eventually protect the larger interests of the people, who are undeniably under their elephantine influence.
Barkha Dutt had written, in impudent defence of her acts, not too long ago:
Should there be an emergency code of dos and donts for the coverage of such crises? We in the media would welcome a framework for sensitive events and are happy to contribute to its construction. But it is important to understand that in the absence of any instructions on site and in the absence of any such framework we broke NO rules. [NDTV]
Isn’t this what she would have ransacked a politician for if he/she had dared to indulge in any immoral showing during times of crises? Mediapersons jumped onto the bandwagon of endless opportunism during those three dark days and then have the audacity to justify their actions by blaming the absence of a code of conduct. Where was their own so-called moral self at the time?
The bottomline, and it’s a sad one, is that media houses showed as much opportunism as the politicians(Narendra Modi, Manish Tiwari etc) and both combined showed more opportunism than the Indian state and people can bear altogether. In times of crises, if their capitalist mindset seeks profit and profit only and they believe that the nation was “awakened” by their constant reporting of the attacks, then it is a testimony of our times that we have slept all along and needed such factions of society to “wake us up”.
LK Advani, the supposed next Prime Minister, praised the role of the media openly in the Lok Sabha yesterday. “They woke us up” and “they did national service” were some statements from the BJP leader. What he forgot was that there was another side to the media coverage, that he probably never cared to explore.
It is disheartening that the people of a superpower-in-waiting come to know their true heroes and defenders at the cost of the lives of those heroes. How morally right is this? How much the better that our heroes do not have to sacrifice their lives in order for us to come to terms with what we are facing day in and day out?
Life just came a full circle.
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