ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Journalism or Voyeurism

The Indian media must ask itself whether it is still in the business of journalism.

From the hashtag #GoBackIndianMedia on Twitter after the Nepal earthquake to Arvind Kejriwal’s comment that the media had taken out a supari (contract killing) on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), recent weeks have seen several energetic rounds of media bashing. Is all of it, some of it, or none of it justified? For a section of the Indian media, mainly television, all such criticism is misplaced and exaggerated. It argues that Kejriwal has no right to criticise, given that it was the media’s disproportionate coverage of AAP and Kejriwal that turned them into a national phenomenon. As for Nepal, the Indian ­media cannot understand why Nepalis are angry at it. Should they not be grateful for Indian help? In any case, they were ­simply doing their job as journalists.

That is precisely what members of the media need to ask themselves: Is this really journalism? Major news organisations around the world put their reporters through a special training to prepare them for coverage of conflict and disasters. At the very least, reporters are briefed on the dos and don’ts in such situations. In India, training or briefings by seniors are rare. As a result, young or ­inadequately trained reporters are let loose in situations where they are pushed to get exclusives. Not surprisingly, they resort to the obvious and crass form of reporting perfected by some Indian television channels: walk up to a victim and ask, “How are you feeling?”

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