T.V NEWS CHANNELS HAVE LOST BOTH NEWS & CREDIBILITY DO U AGREE? YES, this is write both have lost their credibility , if we see the case of uma khurana and gitanjli.
Two women made news in the last fortnight when they shouldn''t have. Uma Khurana and Gitanjali Nag pal. Both were lynched of their names, fair or otherwise. In the space of a few minutes, Khurana went from being a school teacher to a female pimp.Gitanjali, from a has-been half-successful model to a demented, alcoholic, drug addicted wastrel, abusive of dedicated journalists only doing their job.
Had dedicated journalists done things differently, they may have avoided public shame. Khurana could have remained a school-teacher with a weakness for a quick buck, Gitanjali a disturbed individual. Neither need have been infamous stars of TV news''s latest sting operation and ''exclusive''. In Random House''s online Dictionary.com, ''exclusive'' is defined as: "A piece of news... obtained by a... news organization, along with the privilege of using it first." On news channels it''s the opposite: a piece of news, obtained by all news channels broadcasting it at the same time.
As of now, we don''t know what exactly transpired in either instance. It may still turn out that Khurana and Nag pal were guilty, but not as charged by the media. This is good news for them, but comes after they have been exposed to public censure, all because TV reporters are often addicted to espresso news.
Not all news channels or reporters stand accused. However, the culture of exclusives, breaking news, world premieres, common to all, has bred the worm within. TV news channels do anything to get noticed and the sting operation is a high visibility tool. The Khurana case and more recently when ''TV journals'' tried to entrap an MP, have taken the bite out of the sting and given the bee a bad name.
For news channels this could not have come at a worse time. They have argued that the proposed Broadcasting Bill with specific provisions curtailing sting operations is tantamount to censorship, that they do not need government supervision, and that they will create their own self regulatory Content Code. That rings hollow, all the more since we have still to hear a word of reproach from the News Broadcasters Association on the Khurana case.
The result of this sorry episode is that Khurana and Nag pal have been wrongly accused of crimes they have not committed and the media has been pilloried for its excesses. All the good TV news is lost in the credibility gap.
Things can be different. How?
• Sting operations need to be conducted in the rarest of rare cases, not daily
• They should be sanctioned, initiated, supervised by the most senior editorial professionals on the channel
• Stings are for journalists only. People masquerading as journalists or those from other professions should not be entertained
• They should be vetted by legal experts for loopholes before being conducted and telecast. To ensure they stand the test of court
• The question of public interest must be very clearly defined. Experienced journalists know the difference
• In an ideal situation, and given that the police also acted in haste and therefore share in the loss of credibility, the police could be shown the full footage of the sting. Broadcasters and the authorities may come to an agreement whereby the police act on the sting operation; the broadcaster tapes the police operation and then telecasts the entire episode
• This ensures that journalists do not edit or fake stings and helps avoid the kind of reckless, needless public violence that followed Live India''s broadcast of the Khurana sting. This is idealistic, but the time has come for the authorities and the media to join hands so that such terrible mistakes are avoided
If most of these simple measures, known to all journalists, had been carried out, Kability still be an unknown schoolteacher.
We will still face dilemmas over invasion of privacy, entrapment under false pretenses, and what is the public interest. It is in the absence of any binding definition of the latter that senior journalists in the organization have to be careful.
Gitanjali Nag pal is the victim of the race for ''exclusives''. She needed social support not public scrutiny. After the first report appeared in a newspaper, she should have been quietly led away by the local authorities/government to a suitable medical institution and left alone. Whether she is a drug addict or an alcoholic should not be the media''s business.
Unfortunately, Nag pal is not the first or last to be hounded by TV teams that increasingly hunt in packs. We can only recommend that they recall and commit to memory the dictionary definition of the word ''exclusive''.