So it has been action packed days and weeks for news channels. To begin with, the media had a salubrious story of a Bollywood blockbuster turning out to be true in real life.
Geeta, the speech and hearing impaired girl, returned home after straying and spending years in Pakistan.
A fellow journalist appropriately described it as a true Peepli-live moment. The journalist, who didn’t want to be named, works at a leading Hindi news channel. He said that almost every channel set off various teams early in the morning – one to the airport, others to Taj Man Singh and Taj Palace hotels, as it wasn’t clear where she was staying. Another team was deployed at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and another at AIIMS in the hope that she would be taken there for a DNA test.
As Geeta arrived, various cameras rushed to capture a glimpse of her. Soon reporters bombarded the poor girl with questions she couldn’t hear to favour with an answer. As the story shifted to MEA many teams chased her but missed her as she was whisked away for an interview by none other than NDTV’s redoubtable Barkha Dutt. The interview eventually didn’t work out. The Hindi news channel reporter was pretty happy about this as his rival channel didn’t get the interview as has been the case with him and his channel.
Soon the Geeta story had to take a backseat as other stories like Chhota Rajan’s arrest and the Hindukush earthquake started to break.
The most hilarious scramble for this shift occurred when the Hindi news channel reporter was directed to abandon Geeta’s story midway and asked to give a live on earthquake instead from outside MEA. In a breaking news scenario we understand the pressures under which news channels work, but in case of natural calamities like earthquakes at least some restraint needs to be exercised. Even as most of us in Delhi were rattled from the shocks of the quake, many news channels started flashing varying readings on the Richter scale to add to the confusion.
As news cycles continued to grind, by the next day the quake tragedy was forgotten as the beef drama in Delhi’s Kerala House took over national headlines. A simple police move was turned into a huge political issue as for the media the beef curry was thought to have enough masala to trump all other stories. While channels like Times Now had hashtags like #fightlive, CNN IBN was constantly showing a result of an online poll they conducted where over 60 percent were against the ban. Of course, no figures on how many people participated in the poll or how the channel ensured if the ids’ were genuine was given – after all these are small details which can be ignored for the sake of ‘bigger’ picture!
But CNN IBN had the funniest moment when in their call-in show at 6:30 pm (a show where viewers can call and pour out their hearts) a caller from Bangalore thrashed the media for giving undue importance to just one story.
The red faced anchor had no option but to move on to the next caller. While it got pretty boring just watching the same politicians ranting about beef versus buff on the English channels, I switched to Hindi channels to see what they were upto. And I encountered a gem, Aaj Tak’s sister channel TEJ had a Baba (priest) as a guest. He was talking about how consuming ginger can bring you luck and help not only to lead a healthy life but also bring prosperity. And guess what the show was called – Astro Uncle.
Speaking of funny headlines – IBN7 broke all records by posting – ‘facebook ke Papa’ to describe Mark Zuckerberg who was visiting IIT-Delhi. Though IBN7 has been at it for quite some time, they have started a special show every evening between 5 to 6 pm dedicated to Radhe Ma. From speculating if she’s a gambler to Radhe ke Rasleela and what not, they try and force you to watch it sometime and have a good laugh too. But I understand their compulsions; the little birdie tells me it’s one of their highest rated shows!
Honestly, I wanted to keep Arnab and his Newshour out of this article but it’s just impossible. As VK Singh’s controversial remarks about the Dalit children who were charred to death in Haryana hit the headlines, Arnab decided to do have a debate on it. Clearly no big BJP spokesperson wanted to get thrashed by him for an hour on national news. So they called poor RP Singh, an Ex-MLA of the BJP with hardly any power in his voice. All the other panelists pounced on him asking for VK Singh to be sacked. At one point of time during the debate RP Singh was even asked to pay attention and not look down. In the same vein of an errant schoolboy being chastised by his teacher, Arnab asked RP Singh if VK Singh had, indeed, made those remarks! While another panelist, Priyanka Chaturvedi asked RP Singh to say yes or no. By the end of it one felt bad for poor Singh who had to take this for over 40 minutes or so.
And in conclusion how can we forget Big Boss’s new season has started. And if that wasn’t enough, news channels have dedicated half hour slots just about the show and controversies related to it. A Hindi channel is even showing the history of ‘Big Boss Ki Drama Queens’. Hopefully, next week it will get sober so as to allow me to share better vibes with you.