Thursday, February 15, 2007

Breaking rules and breaking news!

Being quite vetti (jobless) at home, I have a lot of time now to watch TV [should not be construed to mean that I do it all the time :-)]. Switching on the TV day before in the afternoon, I found most of the Indian news channels uniformly showing one particular news item as ‘Breaking News’. The news in question was Lalu Prasad Yadav’s in-laws travelling ticketless in a train in Bihar! The news by itself didn’t come as a big surprise to me as Mr.Yadav has been running Bihar as his own fiefdom throughout the time he or his wife has been in power. So, his in-laws travelling ticketless while he is the railway minister in a First A/C coupe isn’t big news at all. That being the case, I was wondering if this particular news item warranted being hyped up as breaking news across all channels. Come on, haven’t we got any other news worth reporting – news, which is really “news” and not just hype?

Now, look at it from the point of view of the in-laws of Mr.Yadav. Hundreds or even thousands travel ticketless day in and day out. In fact, you and I could also have done it at some point in our lives :-) Its just their misfortune that they got caught and they also happen to be related to the railway minister. And in Bihar, I am told that people having reserved tickets usually find someone else occupying their seat. So, is it such a grave offence warranting reporters scurrying to a small town in Bihar to “cover” the news?

Apparently there’s a huge change in the way news is reported these days especially by the visual media. The sad trend seems to be to sensationalise everything and anchors/reporters seem to believe in being ruthless and holding a trial by the media and passing judgement. News seems to be analysed from the point of view of TRPs rather than their actual newsworthiness. Sad state of affairs in my opinion…..

When I picked up The Hindu yesterday morning I was half expecting the incident of the ticketless travel to be in the headlines. Mercifully, they didn’t seem to think it headline news and relegated to a small column in one of the middle pages. I guess they still believe in reporting news rather than selling hype!