Reflexion on Articles

RESPECT

11:33 AM

I don’t get to read the paper as often as before, this is the side effect of having kids. I don’t watch the news on TV, mostly because I don’t want Ishita to be exposed to that, and partly because the news on TV are loud in your face, and annoyingly stupid, everything is breaking news, the sensational reign supreme regardless of it being even of prime importance or not.
What I do read however, and I almost never miss her column, is Seema Goswami’s article in the Sunday HT Brunch Magazine. She is one of these journalist that make pertinent points week after week.
This weekend was no different, her take was how tragedies are covered in the US versus India by the medias, you can read a copy of that column on her blog here.

She was comparing the shooting that happened in the Gurudwara in Wisconsin to the coverage of terrorist attacks such as 26/11 that happened in Mumbai. While in the US no broadcast of information that could prove to be a tactical giveaway to the gunman was shown, the Indian media’s coverage of 26/11 was giving LIVE minute by minute commentary on what the army was planning to do, where the hostage where…so much so that yes, all the terrorists back in whatever HQ just had to plug the TV on to know what to do to avoid being caught.
But what is perhaps even more disturbing is the fact that in India no matter what tragedy is covered, the TV reporters and photographers in their quest for sensationalism will harass just freed victims, next of kin, to get that exclusive interview and photo. To ground shaken survivor just exiting the Taj hotel after hours of wondering if they would just live to see another day, the journalistic horde had nothing better than stick their cameras and microphone in their face and asked them how it felt? Isn’t the answer so freaking obvious? How would one who went for a quiet dinner to a 5 star hotel to find themselves running for their lives and hiding in cupboards praying terrorists will not find their hideaway feel? Seriously, how would it feel seeing your loved one’s being shot right in front of you just a few hours ago? Why does that need to be broadcast on TV for all to hear?

One of the thing that has stricken me from my early days in India was the fact that newspaper do not shy away from putting huge colour photo of bloody corpse on the front page should a tragedy strike. They don’t shy away from showing faces either, and as an added bonus, let’s get shot of grieving shock stricken relative crying in agony, on TV let’s get their on the spot statement, divulge their name, strip them away from privacy and possibly dignity. Is that even relevant to the news at hand? Isn’t focusing on the disaster at hand not more important to do than focus on Ms Kumar’s cry of distress at loosing her son in the calamity at hand? But then are the media the only one to blame? Isn’t there a certain need for voyeurism that fuel it?
I never got exposed to that kind of coverage of any incident back home, the names of the victims of even an air crash aren’t revealed in the media, those in need of the information (namely the families of the decease) have them, nobody need to get their hand on it. The families aren’t shown on TV crying either, trauma and grief is something that is respected as private, and even if the people in India gave their consent to be filmed, or named in a paper, are they actually thinking clearly enough to make an informed decision?
The only personal tragedy I faced so far was a miscarriage, that alone has left me shaking to the ground right after the terrible new was delivered, and in comparison to loosing someone in a terrorist attack, tsunami or earthquake this is tame and mild. I know that right after the new I got I was not able to process anything, think clearly and should a reporter have asked me questions I would probably not even have registered what was happening and find the voice to tell them to get lost…after a miscarriage. So imagine a person coming out of a building set ablaze who heard gunshots for a day and hid in their hotel room bathroom or wherever hoping to make it out alive must feel finally seeing the sky again? Would they even register what happened? Probably not, so decency would be to leave them alone, decency would be to ban the reporters from having access to them. A decency and respect the US, and yup Switzerland and probably most of Europe understood. A thing that India should start understanding as well.
But then years in India has taught me that personal space and privacy isn’t even fully respected by neighbours and even family members. In My years in India I had Aunties trying to peer into my home, saw a baby crib and questioned it openly in the neighbourhood, same aunties telling me my maid is slacking because I am the one watering the plants myself on my terrace. What I ate, did or who I met on my terrace was watched intently by those having a direct access view to said terrace, and gossip was sure to follow in a way or another. It’s people coming day after day just to see your daughter, regardless of you even wanting to make small talk, never mind that you planned to watch a movie or that your daughter is sleeping. It’s in-laws barging into your room without knocking and god forbid they find you half naked changing clothes, it’s them going through your personal and private property behind your back (happened to a lot of people I know). It’s an entire neighbourhood wanting to get a glimpse of the firangi living there, the aunties lecturing you on your diet, whereabouts and visitors. It’s trying to play dead in your own flat when you don’t want to open the door simply because you want to be on your own, or simply don’t want to hear anybody tell you how you should more of this and less of that. It’s being able to buy something without having the obnoxious neighbour ask you how much it was and then claim he could have gotten it for you for cheaper. yes Indian daily life doesn’t seem to value personal space, and the need to solitude to recharge, so in this light it isn’t as surprising that medias aren’t getting the cue on when it is inappropriate to shove a microphone and camera into one’s face.

And as usual it was a well written pertinent article written by my favourite columnist.

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