[2009-01-29] “We, The Bloggers”

Chyetanya Kunte dared to criticise Padma Shree Barkha Dutt of NDTV for her coverage of the recent attacks by terrorists on Mumbai. He had to pay for this by having to apologise and withdraw his post. His post seems to have irked NDTV into gagging him, despite their professed belief in “free speech and expression”.

Several Indian bloggers are understandably quite upset by this turn of events - see Desi Pundit and Digital Inspiration, for example, for links to such posts. NDTV seems to have overlooked the fact that the very act of trying to suppress something on the Internet is almost always guaranteed to provide it far more coverage than what it would have managed on its own.

Many of the Indian news channels were criticised for their hysterical and potentially-endangering coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks. This criticism came not just from bloggers, but from newspapers, magazines and even the Indian government. So it seems quite unfair for NDTV to single out a hapless blogger and arm twist him into withdrawing his criticism. In my opinion, this is quite a shameful act on their part.

As an aside, news channels in India are quite a sorry lot to watch. They generally present a distracting screen crowded with scrolling tickers, flashing banners and animated logos. Even the most inconsequential news item is termed "Breaking News" and talked about endlessly. Anchors are usually loud, hysterical and constantly interrupting panellists to "take a short break". There seems to be a constant urge to analyse everything and to assemble a panel to discuss it. Video clips are repeated over and over. The Hindi news channels seem eager to use ever more colourful and sensational language to describe news. Whether it's English or Hindi, the anchors usually seem to have a very bad command over the respective language and are quite prone to stuttering and slurring.

I guess the proliferation of 24-hour news channels all competing to somehow grab the viewers' attention, and hence advertising money, has led to this general degeneration.

(Originally posted on Blogspot.)

Other Posts from 2009