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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The most sensible comment I have read on the Guwahati molestation issue

R. Sukumar, the editor of Mint, a newspaper I like and respect, has devoted his regular column to what is now being referred to as "the shame of Guwahati".

Given the controversy over the possible involvement of a journalist in the case, Sukumar makes it clear that his opinion of this incident "is clouded by the journalist’s behaviour in the video clip" he saw.

[H]e was shoving a mike at the terrified girl’s face, trying to get her to speak even as the camera repeatedly tried to get a glimpse of her face. At a time when he should have been offering succour, he seemed to be more interested in a sound-bite for his channel. That’s the kind of thing that gives journalism and journalists a bad name.

Sukumar also refers to an NDTV report that said the reporter came across the incident, started recording it on his mobile phone, and called the office for a camera team. Sukumar writes:

It isn’t clear from this report whether he did this after calling the police or if at all he did so. A few tweets on my timeline say he did call the police, even tried to intervene, but then retreated when the mob turned on him. I haven’t been able to verify this either but if true, this is probably the best way he could have reacted.

In incidents of this nature, Sukumar asserts and I agree with him the journalist at the scene is the best person to take a call on what will work and what he or she is comfortable doing.

His conclusion especially leaves us in no doubt of his views which every right-thinking journalist would do well to consider seriously. Read the column in its entirety here: "Doing the right thing".

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