Burning flesh and silent Newsmen

When I wrote about the Gaya self immolation incident (“Did they burn him alive“) more than a month ago, I thought I caught a budding ‘controversy’ early enough to earn my blog a lot of traffic. But that wasn’t to be :) and I have tried to figure why.

See, that story doesn’t have the necessary ingredients to make it to the 6 to 9 pm news slot each evening.

First up, the person who died happened to be a man. When women play lead ‘role’ in a homicide (accused or deceased), the story has a better shot at popularity. Actually, if good-looking women die, it’s a given.

The incident took place in a Tier II city (Gaya) of a Tier III state (Bihar). That is a big no no! A person dying in a mid-rung city of Bihar, we don’t care. Tell me if more than 20 die one shot. Or tell me if the deceased or accused had anything to with Mr Laloo Yadav. Otherwise, get lost. We do care for singular deaths, but only if those happen in Kashmir or by RDX. Terrorism ‘sells’ better you know.

There is one other way stories from places like Gaya can make it to prime-time national news. The deceased should be an alumnus of IIT or IIM. Yes, that sells well, ask our newsmen. If you are smart, you may get the hidden message here, which is this. If you aren’t from IIT or IIM, and you are fast turning into a crusader against corruption (road work, petrol adulteration and all that stuff), your upcoming death may just not count. Just beware, that’s all.

And now for the last, perhaps most relevant thing about this case. Media itself is the ‘accused’ party. Then, how do you expect them to delve deeper into it? I mean they are under trial (I hope the Gaya FIR has lead to a trial), and it is our justice system’s long-standing tradition that once the case is underway, accused don’t make their stands and contentions public. Our goody good media is honoring the tradition, “accused must be tried in courts, not in public media“.

What say, did I miss anything? I mean do you have any more reasons for why the “Gaya self-immolation case” is not seeing more glory in our news media?

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6 Responses

  1. News Channels are pretty much reflecting the sad state of society in various aspects. The title was very apt – Did they burn him alive?

    Completely agree – a good looking woman, a IIT/IIM tag – accident- what story would it make!

    More than 50 Miners died in Jharkhand recently in a Coal Mine. It is hard to find this news on any news media ! And we have Navratri dance moves, broadcast live into your houses, until you have learned all the moves by heart, and sent an SMS about which move was best.

    What a shame.

  2. The media has its own sense of what will be read more. Many times lives of filmsstars have been shown on national newspapers instead of local, national and international news.

    Trial by public media will become the rule and not exception if the courts continue to delay cases.

  3. Hiren – actually, you are right. slow justice system could be the reason many of these ‘trials’ are being conducted by public media. “Law, Order, Justice” is one key component of infrastructure we have ignored thus far (any reforms done recently?, no.), probably because western press gives us good marks on this count.

    Apun Ka Desh – yes! Good looking woman, from IIT/IIM, accident in a Metro city, possibility of political involvements – wow! That would be like something waiting to be lapped up by our news channels :)

  4. you’ve hit the nail on the head!

  5. if you would say that media should show anything and everything under the sun then , forget it pal!
    media is also privately run enterprises and it will not show anything and everything. obviously its motive, along with showing the news is that it would show stuff that catch the public eye and as u said get ‘traffic’ towards its channel.

    So lets not blame the media here. (i aint frm the media if u are thinking abt it!)

    also, the reason why women incidents catch the eye is that, we are more soft/mellow towards them and society tends to sympathize with them more easily. Why iit/iim catches the eye is that everyone by default accepts them as a standard which ppl aspire to. And when something happens here, which is in line with people’s beliefs ( like a whistle blower iim grad) or against their beliefs ( mebbe some scam / CAT paper leak) people would lap up the news.

    and regarding this particular story, media would never follow up on a story where they have no one but themselves to blame!

  6. Lucky dear, agree that media is business first, social service later. But in exchange for the endless power we endow them with (make anyone a hero or villain in a fortnight), they need to exercise some responsibilities as well. Not asking them all to be plain and boring as The Hindu used to be (or still is!), but they have their own interests in creating perceptions and making money out of those.

    You are right about existing perception on women and IIT/IIM. but, have you ever thought who helped and is helping create these perceptions in the first place?

    Any perception you and me hold today is mostly thanks to them media-houses.

    Generating interest in good and ‘real’ stories is possible, but that I suspect would require hard work and good journalism. And not everyone can do that. Using established icons and perceptions to sell stories is an easier shortcut to take when you are short on time and creativity.

    I know I am asking for the moon, but hey, at least let me complain! Cheers!

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