Tuesday, December 2, 2008

(No) Thanks to the Media..

Those three days when Terror rocked my city, my home, turned my life as well as almost everyone in Mumbai's life upside down, were undoubtedly the three longest, most traumatic and tense days of my life. I had already started planning for life after, assuming my dad wont be walking in home. Im ashamed to admit it (now) that I had a slimmer of hope, which faded every passing second, every one explosive, every one gun shot we heard and watched on television.

The Media didn't help one bit. I agree it was our only source of information (other than looking out the window and making sure that the buildings are still standing (as opposed to being blown away by bombs, which is what i was expecting all along). If there was anything that could make the situation worse, it was the news.

Its a given that the television was not switched off, save for about 45 mins on the first night when we (tried to get some) sleep, and 3 hours the next night when Mom was coaxed into sleeping by B aunty, and I passed out of exhaustion on the sofa. Coming back to the point... There were SO MANY TIMES, so many times, that it would say 'BREAKING NEWS - FRESH EXPLOSIONS INSIDE TRIDENT' for sometimes 2-3 hours at a stretch... So we wernt sure if they were newER blasts from the breaking news we saw 3 hours ago, or simply the same feed that was relaying to us by some nincompoops who don't understand the gravity of their jobs and that there were families like ours glued to the television...

All news channels as we have seen run 3 -4 live feeds which keep scrolling horizontally across the screen even while the newsreader is on air. At one particular instance, one line read ' Hostage situation ends at Trident' while the line DIRECTLY below that read 'Hostages feared to be killed inside Trident'. Seriously people? What exactly is the qualification of these people who input news into teleprompters/live feeds? Is common sense not one of them? Do they need a manual that says 'Do not put contradicting news on lines directly above/below one another' Cause ill make one for them, i promise.

The kind of mayhem, panic, heart stopping moments that things like this induce... is something I wont be able to describe with the most verbose of descriptions. All I know is at some point I switched off, (am ashamed to admit) gave up, sat teary eyed in front of the screens hoping and praying for this to be over.

Why cant they run the live feeds as the "updated time:followed by news item"
e.g. ' 11.38 p.m. fresh blasts in Nariman House' '10.56 a.m. Hostage situation still critical'.
Meanwhile, Barkha Dutt launches into Panel Discussions. which at that moment were unnecessary.

Of the many moments frozen in my memory - On Thursday night, the second night of this carnage, at around 3 in the morning while I was secretly watching Tv while my mom and B aunty slept in her room, for a long time, there was no news of the Trident.Most channels were running the same 'Hostages believed to be killed'. 'Fire breaks out' (while i could see that it was doused) type stories, I started Panicking and wondering why there isn't ANYTHING on the news. My dad hadn't been taking calls or responding to sms's, but it was on. I know that since a lot of people tried calling him too, and told me that it was ringing but he wasn't answering it. It was of some solace to know even this.
That night at 3-3.30 in the morning, with my heartbeat reduced to near nothing, I sent him an sms saying 'Daddy why isn't there anything on the news, is everything ok'. Of course, i DIDN'T expect a reply. But still. for whatever reason, I didn't get a delivery report for a Long time after. between 45 and 50 mins to be exact. those 45 mins felt like an entire day.

I was feverishly keylocking/unlocking keylocking/unlocking keylocking/unlocking algorithmically with thoughts I cant even pen down here running through my mind. Considering it was so late, and all my close friends and relatives were going through this as much as i was, I knew I didn't want to wake up people who were getting some sleep... Tried switching channels to watch something mindless in the hope that maybe the next time I switch back, There will be some good news.
At some point, with the television on, I must've drifted off into sleep. when something buzzed. It was a delivery report. I breathed a sigh of relief, turned off the television and convinced myself to sleep. At that time, even a delivery report was enough to go on...

7 comments:

Smita said...

It must have been a hell of a time. I can say I understand but I know that only somebody who has really been affected will know the pain....

Thank God that your dad is safe now.

As far as media is concerned the less said the better it is. At palces more than one they gave away the operational details which were quite strategic. I guess it is time that media things collectively about the responsibility they have towards us.

Mumbai Diva said...

I know. One channel kept saying "last leg of the TAJ operation" for 36 hours. I think at some point even the reporter must have realized how ridiculous she sounded.

Aditya said...

http://smallchange.in/

It's a start.

Ardra said...

I have no words to say at all. Only today, I was reading your posts...
Just Thank God, Your Dad is safe is all that I can manage...
warm regards
ardra

Ardra said...

Please do convey my immense gratitude to your dad. We are proud of him. God Bless you all...

Serendipity said...

@ Smita - yep, In fact the one light moment I had was this once that Zee news flashed a messge across the screen that they arent going to air live footage due to safety reasons. When I heard that, I stayed on the channel for a few mins... only to be bombarded with - 'Zee news understands its priority for safety' 'Zee news wil not telecast live images because it understands its responsibility' and another 5-10 such slogans.
Its then that I switched over, realizing that it was a publicity thing.

At least CNN IBN, NDTV, and Times Now didnt waste time on stuff like this.

@ Mumbai Diva - I hope she/he learnt a lesson.
This whole episode can be used as a lesson in media textbooks on 'Bad reporting'
Even the whole panic on the bomb scares/firing rumours that happened on friday were ridiculous.

@ Adra - Thansk for your wishes...Take care, and be safe..

The Nomad said...

The media beamed the pictures of the rocket launchers being installed by the NSG commandos at the Taj and their expected target a good 10-15 mins. before the first launch took place. The live pictures of the commandos being airdropped, taking position etc. were used by the terrorists as it is now clear that they got news of the situtaion through their satellite phones from people outside who were tracking the news.

The rumor mongering, thrusting of questions to scared, tired faces ... CNN giving away the location of two British citizens as terrorists listened ...

The media risking their lives and reporting is heroic, but not at the cost of lives of those engaged in controlling the situation. The admin should have kept them away from the scene for starters but media cannot shrug off its responsibility.

I would strongly request all who agree to sign this petition that Aditya has also mentioned above:

http://smallchange.in/