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Saturday, September 29, 2012

"There are some stories TV can't do"

NDTV anchor Sunetra Choudhury's "After the Break" column in DNA on Saturdays usually provides food for thought. Today was no exception.

Headlined "Crimes 'unfit' for TV", Choudhury's column puts the spotlight on a major difference between television and print — there are some stories that TV can't do. In fact, the article begins with that admission before revealing the nature of the "crime":

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pursuing this story that involves sexual harassment, courts and lawyers and at the end of this period, that’s the frustrating conclusion I am left with.


We then learn details of the many sordid cases that have led to women lawyers moving the Supreme Court to end harassment in our courts.

Conversations with women lawyers reveal how deep-rooted the problem is. Senior advocate Kamini Jaiswal told me several instances where no action was taken despite complaints. “The junior lawyer who comes to a senior’s chamber is very vulnerable,” said Jaiswal, “She is very young and it is difficult for her to even raise her voice. If she complains against a respected, senior lawyer, who will believe her? Her entire career is at stake.” Jaiswal, who was the only lawyer who didn’t mind being quoted, told me how judges were inaccessible for junior lawyers, especially because they were friendly with the senior ones. Do all women lawyers go through this, I asked. “Many of them do,” she said.

Choudhury, though, does not elaborate on why this case won't work as a news story on television. If you ask me, I would say there are at least two reasons for this:

1. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to get people to speak on camera.
2. TV news relies heavily on "dramatic" visuals, which are unobtainable here. "Re-enactment" is possible, but then the whole story would be one long episode featuring actors, and that won't do.

Perhaps journalists, especially those working with our news channels, would like to add their comments.

You can read Sunetra Choudhury's column in its entirety here: "Crimes 'unfit' for TV". And you can check out her previous columns here.
  • Illustration courtesy: Ravi Jadhav/DNA.