Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Would We Rather Have Doordarshan?

Last week my maid asked why all the "madam log were not eating properly, or sleeping properly, why they were all only staring at the TV all day and all night?"

I try to explain, but she didn't understand why this attack was so upsetting. "Is some one close to you over there?"

I tell her what happened, and how many died at VT, the Policemen killed, and their jeep driven away by shooting terrorists, her eyes grow wide. "You saw it all on TV! Same time it happened (LIVE) ... All night! .... (laughing nervously) but didn't they shoot at the TV people, weren't they scared!?"

"I guess our TV people are brave ... you also must watch the News, not just serials ..."

"We only get Doordarshan didi, they showed us the complete funeral ceremony of Police walla bara sahab, on TV yesterday ... only that, and earlier the News at fixed hours, after it has all happened."

She does not even know the name of the ATS Chief, how brave he was, how he died, what it means ... Doordarshan is doing a great job!

And I realise how we have been taking the media so much for granted! I want to know what's happening, the uncensored truth and preferably as soon as possible.

I remember the night I had switched on the TV after an Earth Quake. It was a frightening experience to be vigorously shaken awake, and seeing it mentioned on CNN IBN had been reassuring.

I am thankful our brave and free media is out there, I am happy Barkha Dutt, Arnav Goswami, Rajdeep Sardesai, Vikram Chandra, Shireen Bhan ... and the rest of them were there, even if sometimes they did ask very insensitive questions. They let us see our Politicians for what they truly are - maybe sometimes, tinged with their own biases. But I am glad they are there, unafraid and free.

The Politicians HATE the media when it doesn't help them get votes. Like now.

They do not believe in, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your RIGHT to say it."

But I am very proud of our
Fourth Pillar of Democracy.

Edited to add: It is very easy for DD to become the voice of the ruling government. DD can never be free media.


Bones said...

I agree that because of satellite/cable media we got to see things live but I just wonder if in this case broadcasting 24x7 was such a good idea as the 'handlers' of the terrorists inside the hotels were giving them information live via satellite phones...
Also, Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai etc. were quite unprofessional and biased and came to conclusions without evidence...I thought the fourth estate was supposed to be unbiased...

Ajit said...

good one....
A democracy is not a democracy if there is no "Free Speech".....

Does it matter said...

The media coverage of the attacks has been suspected of providing information that was fed back to the terrorists, revealing what was happening outside. Thereby jeopardising some of the possible actions being taken.

The media has for long been engaging in TRP centric sensationalism.

They have neither the interest of the politicians nor that of the country at heart. They are there to make money, and are like any other profession - like, for example, a salesperson, a taxi-driver, a sabziwallah, or a prostitute.

It would be naive to grant their delusions of national service any respectability.

manju said...

I agree that if the choice is only between DD and the present other channels, I would prefer the other channels.

But I would not mind having a third option of a responsible TV channel.

Kislay said...

I must grudgingly admit , that Indian media has still to hit the rock bottom . The video link I sent you convinced me of that .

hitch writer said...

Its a two edged sword....

Strangely enough the media person also manage to interview some poor lady who could barely speak whose husband was inside the taj since 40 hours... our very own Barkha dutt asks here how she feels... Wait a second how would she feel ???? What a question... Cannot believe they do such interviews... and even more strange are people who come for such an interview.

They will now have sensational stories about bulletproof jackets, intelligence failures, statements by politicians, resignations, inside hands etc...

Since when was India a perfect country..?? We have many many loose ends... yes we have to tighten them... but at this hour i feel the primary objective should be to go after the perpetrators of these attacks and not spare them... Set an example for all those who think India can be attacked.... We have to show first cum first that Indian lives are valuable. After that you can start washing your dirty linen, its too easy to start the politician bashing. After all they are elected by us they are not foreigners but Indians. As is our country so are our politicians.

If the media were really sincere and wanted to potray the feelings of the public... they would all focus on what is to be done next and ensure the perpetrators are not left alone by our government... No resignations at the moment but action... India must go after the perpetrators and not fail in this at all.

Mama - Mia said...

well bad fourth pillar is better than not having one! but one does wish they were more sensible and sensitive.

when i heard one of them harping about how its THEIR channel exclusive, it was a classic WTF moment!! i mean who cares if its a bloody exclusive?? and they kept on and on!

but yes, least they are free to show whatever they want to and that is very important!

just the other day I had an "educated" friend telling me that only radicals can get rid of radicals. and i was like BS!

how will it help if ew become a Hindu taliban for ge? when we wont be allowed to celebrate perhaps a valentines day or watch hollywood movies or eat at a restos we want, when we want?

he said better alive and not being given freedom than be dead!

i thought rather dead than living a life where I have to ASK before enjoying simplest pleasures of life.

its amazing how people dont relaise the impoprtance of freedom and democracy we have! and go on to make hasty statements like we will be better under dictatorship! Jesus!



D said...

When cable TV first came to India, like most other Indian families we were debating the pros and cons for getting a connection for our home. And then the Babri masjid demolition happened. Instead of waiting to read an edited version of what had happened the next day in the newspapers, we wanted to see what it as it was. I guess BBC was the only news channel covering it live that time. So we got ourselves the cable connection.

I totally agree with you how we take the media for granted. But I also want to reiterate that with the right to freedom of speech that the news channels enjoy, comes a HUGE responsibility. The reporters and channels need to be conscious of that.

Pinku said...

IHM....I am actually having mixed feelings about this question.

The private channels...aired the action, tears, fires and everything else...live. How did it really help? Yes you and me know exactly which window of the taj was on fire. It also thrust microphones into the faces of just released hostages, people who just got news of someone dear dying, and they also hampered Police action by airing their activities on live TV.

Doordarshan showed the news at fixed intervals in a toned down manner and the way news is read, in a stoic sensible fashion. Not the close to tears Barkha variety or the diappointed with Sudipto Sarkar for being composed after such an ordeal Prannoy Roy variety.

The least our media can do is not incite tempers and tensions and i think our TV guys failed to do that.

Agree with Bones on the conclusions being drawn without evidence bit completetly.

For once I will actually side with Doordarshan. and as for your maid I think she just missed the name cause she didnt pay close attention.

Mavin said...

Free media is a double edged sword.

Their role is undoubtedly crucial in a democracy and they can and do act as a watchdog. TV has done that to a large extent and we must cherish the freedom we enjoy.

However, the danger here is when things tend to go overboard...

1. The TV Channels become biased and resort to half truths to justify their arguments

2. Sensationalising trivial events and making a controversy out of it and this includes business channel like CNBC.

3. In a vitiated atmosphere aggravate the situation rather than calm the situation and all in the name of free media.

4. Immature and untrained anchors make things worse.

amongst others....

Another serious related issue is the ownership of various media channels. One matter seriously bothering authorities is the use of foreign based front organisations controlled by "undesirable elements".

Spy organisations, Religious outfits, Mafia.....put up funds in front organisations which through the stock market take up large stakes in such media companies. Over aperiod through use of subtle and not so subtle programming you gain/control the mind set of the people.

Great...I agree but should always be taken with a pinch of salt and we should be alert such that any digressions are rectified.

Trailblazer said...

I wouldn't agree IHM. No. With the current set of TRP and publicity hounds in place in the media, we are better off with Doordarshan.

While I see some sense in your praise of the media, you must also know that your maid is like so many ordinary Indians. Ordinary Indians (I may seem weird in the usage of this word, but I will use it) DO NOT care enough, DO NOT see a life beyond Bollywood movies, fashionable clothes and cricket matches, DO NOT give a damn about what kind of a system or politicians are in place today simply because of IGNORANCE.

On the other hand, ORDINARY INDIANS praise the likes of Barkha Dutt for their bold coverage because she feeds them with stuff they exactly want - a live telecast of a siege such as Mumbai's. ORDINARY INDIANS rejoice at the acts of in-human feelings being expressed on TV, they are insensitive towards victim families because ALL THEY CARE ABOUT IS THEMSELVES. This is something we've all been doing again and again. There is no common connect.

Read this:-

The media only takes advantage of this "divide" that actually exists. They know youngsters will watch this because all youngsters like war simulation games, they know elders will watch it go because they want to be "informed", they know women will watch it so that they can shriek in fear and be afraid. They don't give a damn about how lives are actually being lost in the process.

Better an uninformed maid than a dead NSG commando from direct media broadcast, IHM.....

Trailblazer said...


Please read the kind of feedback NDTV gets from its viewers.

Do you really think the media is bothered? They are there to make money, because people are hounds for sensational information, garnished with Bollywood-style rhetoric and fake emotions.

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Smitha said...

IHM, No doubt the fourth pillar of democracy is extremely important. And freedom of speech is one our most precious freedom. Having said that, our media persons definitrly need to be more responsible - esp when their indiscretion could effect national security. As for not shoving the microphone in the face of grieving relatives, it was in extremely bad taste and I hope the media realises it. But I certainly donot think we should do away with these channels. And yes they definitely need to be less partisan in their reporting..

Miaow!!! said...

While I beleive in freedom for the press/media, I would also like to see the press engage in responsible reporting...

A situation of terror is one which easily inflames emotions and panics people.It is so easy for anyone to loose their head at such times and I think the free flow of information which can border on dangerous, insensitive questions, tendencies to judge, are all symptomatic of this loss of sense.

The media needs to cognizant of certain things, most importantly
How much of information should be broadcast in sensitive situations.

What are the limits one must not cross while questioning victims or their anxious loved ones.

How much of the information transmitted is factual and what percentage is coloured by emotions.
Perhaps there also needs to be greater collaboration between channels in times like these. I recall Prannoy Roy taking a moment to congratulate the courageous journos and reporters who risked their lives to cover the crises.

Was there a need for so many reporters to be out there?

Was it not possible for the channels to collaborate so that there were lesser media teams out there, risking their lives?

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Hi IHM, sometimes I think we would rather watch Doordarshan. If we stopped battering them for a while and actually watched, they are not bad at all. I watched it since I had no choice the other day, and was impressed by the depth in which they had covered the MP elections (this was before the Mumbai attacks). And do you really believe that they would have shown Hemant Karkare's funeral without mentioning his name? Ofcourse, they didn't drill it into the maid's head with the ferocity of a mad-hopping Sardesai or an out-of-breath Barkha Dutt.. but they are also doing their business all the same. Sometimes, it's just sad that we mistake their over-stoicness or their idea of dignity as their incompetence. Even so, in this case, surely incompetence might be better than the audacity of channels like India TV or the misreporting of channels like CNN IBN or the arbitness of having Simi Garewal on air on such a serious issue, don't you think?

Trailblazer said...


I wanted to add that for all the nonsense politicians are, we know they are under the public eye and will be forced to resign out of moral responsibility on such accounts as Mumbai.

On the other hand, do you think the likes of Rajdeep and Barkha are ever threatened by the people? They will never resign and continue to shower the crap on us that they so regularly do.

Such journalists use the sentiments of the people and then hide behind those sentiments to pinpoint at politicians and others, masking all the evil they directly put in to this great Indian mess.


If you can answer this question of mine, I would withdraw my argument.

J P Joshi said...

I agree with you that we need a free and brave fourth estate to keep us informed.

However, the analysis of a lot of the anchors is quite off the mark. I would be happy if they limited themselves to only facts during live coverages. Also, the media needs to follow a code of conduct on what, when and how the news would be transmitted on issues that have a bearing on national security issues. They need to regulate themselves before the government steps in to do the same.

Charakan said...

IHM, Yes I agree that free Press is one of the most important component of any democracy. But at the same time most TV Channels/newspapers are business ventures of big Business groups.They will have an inherent elitist pro big business bias.So the reader/viewer should be cautious and should try to read between lines. The terrorists did not attack the media persons because they are terrorists messengers to the world.Mumbai attack will be considered as a big success among jihadi groups especially because of the 60 hr live coverage around the world. I feel the security agencies should have asked the TV cameras to be kept far away.Only the journalists should have been allowed close to the scene.

Anonymous said...

i do not agree with you. the behaviour of media was highly deplorable

Indian Home Maker said...

Ok I had expected everybody to say, we need free though a little more responsible media :)
Here's my take,

# A MEDIA that is free from government controls is essentila for a Democracy.

# I am absolutely against CENSORSHIP, because that will automatically give our politicians to show their (coloured) version of the story and nothing can be more dangerous then that.

# The information being given and terrorists location being disclosed was OUTRAGEOUS. I heard NDTV saying they will not show it (maybe they were checked) but some other channels continued to explain "I am 30 degrees from where the NSG is poised to shoot at the window..." I heard Navy Chief commenting on that .... something about Kargil War. But media for all it's faults - also keeps an eye on any human rights violation.

# Yes media needs to be responsible. BUT the politicians should NOT control them. Oh how they'd love to:)

# How were the reporters being biased? They were thrashing the politicians, left, right and centre and don't you think these guys deserved this?

# For anybody who prefers DD - Try sticking to watching News on DD for a whole month.

# About my maid not knowing ATS Chief's name. I remember resenting having to watch politicians' funerals on DD - it is not inspiring, no information except false sounding praises are heaped. In the end - far from realising what the martyr did for the nation, you end up cursing him for spoiling your holiday.
She had none of the awe or respect I had expected.

# The quality of programs on DD is atrocious. And the 'edited' news for voters - edited by who? Who decides what should be shown? Our media had annoyed the politicians by showing public discontent against them, they are naturally fuming :)

Z@ki-R said...

Well, free media should mean a responsible media too, unfortunately it's not the case here. Our media should be free, but they should also be answerable to government/supreme court etc too. Here I am assuming govt and political parties to be two seperate entities. You may show example of some developed countries, but they have a strong system in place which can withstand irresponsible media but I believe our media needs to be free with a provision to control them.

It was so disgusting to see media, showing animated graphics while reporting a delhi school girl's murder. they even spiced up the girl's/ her mother's/ her father's 'relationships' . I feel, some geniouses of media ( e.g. Aajtak) could have made a gr8 career in bollywood too.

Doordarshan atleast does not try to make money with "breaking news".

[Though I don't get much chance to watch TVs, my TV was stolen few years back. Since then I could not decide, which model to buy.]

Anonymous said...

The protest at Taj at 6pm today is gathering steam. Prem panicker of Rediff and Suparn Verma are leading the campaign. Download the manifesto of the rally here


Also every Wednesday from today will be observed as the Day of Shame. Plans are on to get college students involved, setting up a website. Already got Facebook and Orkut groups created. A Supreme Court lawyer is also involved.

Read the manifesto for more info.

Its started :)

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

So is it that private ownership = unbiased opinion? That's so not true. All channels (NDTV, CNN-IBN, Aaj Tak) have clearly figured out which side of the Cong-BJP debate they're on (which you'd know better during elections when Prannoy Roy sulks over one party losing or when Aaj Tak loses sleep over the other), and just you wait till the dust settles - they'll be back to their chosen pavilions.. so really, them bashing the politicians is just the need of this hour.. and what the TRPs are going to feed on. All said and done, you gotta get them credit for knowing their market well. The two big national dailies have long since marked their territory as well. So, watching or not watching DD is not exactly the parameter of the bullshit-index of the news! How does one make news "inspiring": by hopping mad, yelling about it and getting out of breath over it.. what is an inspiring tone.. was it inspiring when Barkha Dutt kept thrusting the mike onto a man who had lost his young son at the Taj? Really, in times like these, it is so maddening that nothing can be said about it. I refuse to believe that just because the cameramen made a fuss around the officers' burning pyres at their funerals, they made it all that more inspiring.

As about sticking with DD, I am switching over to DD everyday and watching as much of it as all other channels for the last one week because guess what, the Government's official statements are first released on DD, then reduced to simplified sensationalized headline like "India asks Pakistan to hand over fugitives" and shown on our "free media".

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Oh, here's one more thing. Please let me say this, and not in the vein of sounding like a know-it-all but just to qualify as someone who knows a little bit about the news business: I work only in the Media & Entertainment sector, and have worked on projects with news channels in the recent past - all privately owned. So I have a little bit of understanding on how they work, and what are their business motivations. The stiff competition has had them play to the masses and go on an overkill with the sensationalism: something which Prasar Bharti (Doordarshan & Akaashvaani) is least worried about. Each time an India TV is launched and takes away their market share, brainracking over how to get news to run high and exciting for 24 hours of the day is done. And we see the results on a daily basis. Speaking of so-called unbiased private ownership, the largest network in South India has 20 TV channels, 2 leading dailies, 7 magazines, 1 evening daily, several radio stations and 1 television distributor.. and this network is owned by one single TN politician. This particular network is notorious for being powerful enough to block all new players to enter the market, has several cases being run against it... so much so that if at all any news channels are launched, their audio is blanked out by the distributor. The only private competitors in this market are two other politician-owned TV channels. In such conditions, having a public sector broadcaster is of critical importance, I'd say.

Usha Pisharody said...

Well, ....

There are times, like this, when Doordarshan muted the whole happening, and other private channels were really "out there", that these private channels redeem themselves, a lot. At least, as you say, they show us a lot of things as they are. If only they would not go that step further into insensitivity, and mike shoving, then yes.. I'd rather have these hounds.

But, with the media having that freedom, yet not acting responsibly, does make one wonder. Censorship cannot be accepted, and as Traiblazer has pointed out, if TRPs make them go overboard, it becomes just another farce again. What most of them forget is the fact that a lot of young children watch the content they deliver.. and that can be bad, really bad, in the sense that they are impressionable and can form instant likes and dislikes; irrationally.
Still, it is just another double edged knife, as hitch writer has said.
Been out of circulation, virtually, :), coz of system failure and stuff.. likely to be that way for the next few days.
Wl catch up as and when possible :)
Loved your response too, by the way. :)

Mampi said...

I wouldnt agree with this. WHat is the fun of having a media that is telecasting live how our commandoes are 'stealthily' going to take up the operation against these terrorists? What kind of a pillar is this that jeopardizes the security of the country before the whole world??
DD is OK, I do not like that either. And, these private channels are only good till they don't sensationalize the entire thing, and I am ashamed to admit that they DID sensationalize the entire sequence.

Charakan said...

Both private 'free' channels and DD as a public broadcaster are needed.
The bias of these private channels is mainly for the Big Business groups who have invested in them,which gives them the advertisements and with whose capital they function.
Let me give you an example. It is now evident that ATS have specefically warned Taj Hotel authorities about strengthening security 2 days before the terror attack. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Taj_hotel_was_warned_of_attack_Ratan_Tata/articleshow/3775558.cms
Tata did not specify what all measures he took.He himself admitted in an interview that the measures where relaxed few hours before the attack.No politician bashing journalist was brave enough to raise a finger against him.Also there was no security on the sea side. Why such a rich business group charging the guests exorbitantly could not make the place more secure?