Sunday, August 21, 2011

"As a TV reporter, I know that my role is only secondary"

Writing in yesterday's DNA, NDTV journalist Sunetra Choudhury offers a stirring riposte to all those who have been critical of our television news channels' coverage of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement:

Everywhere I go, every non-TV person I talk to, says the same thing: 'You 24-hour channel people are really overdoing it' 'Don't you have anything else to do?' 'You have made a hero out of Anna Hazare' 'Look at the dumb TV anchors and the questions they are asking' 'How can you say India is with Anna when so many people are against Anna?'

I'm not even going to try to defend every complaint against TV coverage. Lord knows some of the cribs are really valid, but I think it is high time self-proclaimed TV critics really understood what the medium is all about, what logistics they deal with and what kind of pressures that TV reporters, anchors and producers face every second of the day.

After explaining the hazards of her profession, which include "getting elbowed in the gut by other members of the media ... and getting felt up by some of the crowd", she gives us an insight into the problems of covering an event of this magnitude:

Before Anna Hazare sat on his dharna, we TV reporters were called for an editorial meeting. Unlike what the cynics among you like to believe, the strategy wasn't to grab eyeballs by exaggerating the number of the crowds. The problem was more basic. How does a newsroom with limited reporters cover an indefinite fast like this? How do you ensure somebody is always at the site so that if anything untoward happens, we are there to bring you the news?

Remember the unearthly hour Baba Ramdev was shooed out of Ramlila ground? It was because TV reporters were there that any police excess was captured and checked.

This is a very reasoned and cogent analysis of the issues that our television journalists have to deal with. Read the piece in its entirety here: "In defence of the subaltern TV reporter".

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