Laptop is old hat. Keith Bradsher of the New York Times sent updates on the terror strike in Mumbai from his Blackberry. The newspaper correspondent had parked himself on a rooftop close to Nariman House.
Taking cover behind plastic water tank, to stay clear of stray bullets, he wrote in a blog post that he found it convenient to keep an eye on Nariman House from his rooftop location and then draw back now and then behind the water tank to thumb-type on his BlackBerry . Bradsher’s BlackBerry updates appeared in NYT blog – Lede. The word, spelled this way, refers to the ‘lead’ sentence or paragraph in a newspaper story.
Blackberry came in handy for the gunmen holding out on the Taj , to keep tab on news reports on their strike. The naval chief told a news channel that their round-the-clock coverage picked up by militants impaired the commando operations. Even as he gave vent to his disapproval of 24×7 coverage – ‘it’s not a nice thing to do at this time’- there was cable TV blackout in Mumbai on Day Three.
Times Now anchor cried foul, and went on a rant about how Mumabaikars were being deprived of their right to instant information, while rest of the world was glued to 24×7 news channels. Our electronic media has a way of exaggerating their self-importance. Admittedly, there is much to be said for round-the-clock news update at times such as this.
But then saturation coverage with repetitive visuals can become a 24×7 drag. Over-zeolous media had penchant for ‘breaking news’ with every gun-shot heard in the background. In the absence of much hard information coming their way, for hours together, news anchors fill in fallow air-time with snap analysis, their instant conclusions and ’expert’ comments from in-house security gurus and retired intelligence officials. Talking heads invited to the TV studio flog their pet peeves against the police, politicians, intellegence agencies and, generally, the establishment of the day.
News reporters outside the scene of action can be so insensitive as to harangue for bytes taumatised hotel guests rescued from terrorists and grieving families of those who couldn’t make it. A media report on a scene outside the Trident said a few families of terrorist victims took exception to the paparazzi-style of media functioning and had a slanging match with some cameramen.
And then we had TV panel discussions, in between ‘breaking news’, on the burning issue of the day . Panelists on a Times Now show included film actors Farukh Sheik, Arjun Rampal and Sanjana Kapoor. They are entitled to their wisdom on how the nation should respond to terrorist attacks. But to have these Bollywood worthies holding forth on national security issues made an amusing spectacle. Another news channel had its prime-time anchor drawing viewers’attention to a blog post by Amitabh Bachchan, in which the actor gives us his sense of the situation caused by the terror strike in Mumbai. NDTV viewers were informed that Amitabh, distressed by the developments, went to bed with a loaded revolver (licenced of course) put under his pillow. He had ‘a very disturbed’ sleep Wednesday night.
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