Category: Media

Journalists and exaggerations

Journalists are expected to report facts without exaggerations. They do not have the liberty to exaggerate. Poets and writers of fiction have the liberty to exaggerate.

“De Villiers was quick to get to the ball, running Dravid out at the striker’s end by a mile.” (Aditya Iyer — Gambhir, Tendulkar keep India in hunt — The Indian Express — 4/1/2011.)

“While television replays showed that the ball would’ve jumped the stumps by a mile, umpire Asad Rauf couldn’t resort to such technological luxuries, dismissing de Villiers for a patient 33.” (Aditya Iyer — Durban Legend — The Indian Express — 30/12/2010.)

A mile has eight furlongs. A furlong has 220 yards. A yard has three feet. A foot has 12 inches. Cricket pitch is of 22 yards. Rahul Dravid was away from the striker’s end by some inches or feet but not by a mile. In A. B. de Villiers’ case the ball could have jumped the stumps by some inches but not by a mile.

Once there was a murder in Malad. A report mentioned the body was cut into 300 pieces. Did the reporter count the pieces?

At the end of December 2010 many flights in USA were cancelled. NDTV 24 X 7 reported ”Tons of flights cancelled.” Not dozens. Not hundreds. Since when flights are measured in tons?

Acquittal by media

Sometimes one hears about trial by media, media going too far and media being judge, jury and executioner. One has not heard about acquittal by media.

Sometimes people in media pronounce someone not guilty when the court has announced him or her guilty. Some years back a British girl in USA was found guilty by jury of a murder of a baby. BBC ran a campaign saying she was not guilty. The judge acquitted her.

Once a Delhi Public School student sent an MMS of his girlfriend having oral sex with him. The boy faced prosecution. Some in media expressed sympathy for the boy saying “Oh, he is just a boy.” No thought was given to the girl whose life he destroyed.

Some days back the judge in a Chhattisgarh court found Binayak Sen guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Many people in media pronounced him not guilty or punishment too harsh. TV channels had one sided discussions with people condemning judgment. The prosecutor who prosecuted the case against Binayak Sen was not seen on any channel. The channels gave publicity to a lawyer who came forward to defend Binayak Sen forgetting that the lawyer does not have a track record of defending innocent people but defending murderers, rapists, molesters and all types of crooks. Once in an interview he could not answer questions by Karan Thapar and left without completing the interview.

On 29/12/2010 CBI filed closure report in Arushi — Hemraj murders case. Since then some channels have pronounced Rajesh Talwar not guilty and carried his interviews. CBI report indicates Rajesh Talwar was murderer but there is not enough evidence to prosecute him. UP police had arrested Rajesh Talwar. When CBI took over he was released. Attempts to frame three servants failed. The case went to another team of CBI. There was talk of subjecting Rajesh Talwar and his wife Nupur Talwar to narcoanalysis test. Then came a judgment of the Supreme Court bench headed by K. G. Balakrishnan that a person’s consent is necessary to make him/her undergo narcoanalysis test. After some months CBI filed for closure report.

Some want justice for Arushi. Nobody talks about justice for Hemraj. Nothing about his parents or family members asking for justice appears on TV. In death as in life, people do not care about him.

What if cameras were not rolling?

Many times crimes take place in India which are captured by cameras and reported on national television. Some of them would have gone unpunished if cameras had not captured them.

However it is true that many crimes take place because cameras are there to capture them. People who commit those crimes inform TV channels in advance and after the arrival of cameras commit the crimes. They want publicity. They are sure they will not be punished.

Many acts of Vandalism in Bombay took place after cameras arrived. Molestation at Amnesia took place after cameras arrived. What happened to the criminals who targetted migrants in Bombay? What happened to the molesters in Mangalore? What happened to many other criminals who committed their crimes in front of cameras? They are free. They are not behind bars. People commit crimes because they know the long arm of the law will fall short in catching them. TV channels should not send reporters and cameramen when they are told in advance that a crime will be committed.