Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why not Impose delay on live reporting during terrorist operations?

"Several foreign nationals are trapped in Taj Hotel.."

"Terrorists are suspected to be in 9th floor.."

"NSG troop has arrived in Mumbai…"

"NSG commandos have entered the Hotel…"


Some of the information telecasted live by all news channels on the event of recent Mumbai terror attacks. News channels have an objective- to bring latest news and share with readers, much before any competitor channel. But I feel this habit of indiscriminate live reporting, while a combat operation is in progress, can be catastrophic for the success of any military operation against terror.

Let us just think for a while. Do we really need to know everything on a ‘as soon as it happens’ basis? I feel NO. Whether NSG Commandos have just arrived at airport, or have entered the hotel or in first floor or second at this moment, is not necessary to be telecasted to general public in realtime. Showing such news live, will be immensely useful only to terrorists and their supporters outside.

Consider this- the commandos just know that militants are somewhere inside the hotel- but militants know everything through TV-
  • Who is being called (Army/NSG/Marines/Local police etc)
  • What is their ETA (Estimated time of Arrival), which tells them, how much time they have before a gun battle would begin- element of surprise will not there to the benefit of commandos)
  • Where are they right now- at the main entrance/just entered/floor
  • How the world is responding- Is there a pressure mounting on the Govt to succumb to the demands of terrorists to get the hostages freed? (so that they can act tough during negotiation)
  • How many of their friends are alive or dead (so that they can assess their strength)
  • What has been the impact of their strike-how many police and civilian dead, the current morale of police, who all as been detained/suspected?
  • Live visuals of the street-to assess a possible escape strategy
  • What information about them the outside world has (which floor they are in, their head count etc
  • And many more...
Our publicity savvy politicians are also to be blamed for leaking every bit of information to the media.
All these information would help them consolidate their position and pose greater challenge to commandos trying to hunt them down.

Why is our media helping them by airing live all the sensitive information about the anti terror operations? Common man do not need to know them on a live basis. Can’t the I&B (Information & broadcasting) ministry think of banning live reporting? At least the channels should show some responsibility. Let the news channels air the news with a delay of few hours, so that the police and security agencies will have a lead time to finish their task, wherein terrorists would be as equally uninformed as they are. Please note that I am not advocating a censorship- I do not want a situation where Govt decides what to be aired and what not. I am all for free speech and expression. What I am proposing, is that security agencies should have the power to impose a delay of say 3 to 6 hours w.r.t live reporting of anti terror operations, when such operations are still in progress. Let the TV channels record whatever they want, but they should be aired only after a gap of few hours. Few information that generic public should be aware of (areas where curfew is imposed, emergency contact numbers etc) can be aired with permission from security agencies.  I do not think anyone loses anything with this.
 We salute you-Vijay Salaskar, Hemant Karkare and Ashok Kamte who died fighting terror
The movie- A Wednesday, also shares same opinion. I feel the good old days of Once in a day news bulletin was far better. What do you think?


This post is dedicated to all brave police officials and innocent civilians who lost their lives in yesterday’s terror attack in Mumbai

www.smallchange.in is an online initiative on the same issue- you may go and sign the petition there.
Photo from IBNlive. Cross posted on Churumuri

December 19 Update: This report suggests Media is willing to adopt certain self regulatory guidelines.

18 comments:

Raveesh Kumar said...

Nidhi,

I agree with you. Terrorists are using media as they are eyes to the outside world.

Jegan Sekar said...

The points jotted by you are all valid. I am with you points.

Saithilak said...

Its obvious. The delay has to be taken voluntarily by media. If it is imposed on them as rule, I don't think that will work out. People bend rules.

But, when it is done voluntarily, media projects itself more succinctly in public eyes, as sensitive, responsible & blah, blah.... This leaves better impressions and this looks better option.

Officials who gave lives are true heroes. Lets not forget them in this mayhem.

Vikram Mekala said...

Hi there,

You are absolutely Right?

How should we take this message forward is a questions which i do not have an answer.

Any suggestions or Ideas on this?

Thanks,
Vikram

Arti Honrao said...

Makes a lot of sense.
In fact, this is what I was discussing with my brother as we watched the news

Finally, the news channel showed some sense of not showing the operation and / or giving updates about it.


GBU
Arti

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Everyone.

Saithilak,
Commercial motives may not permit voluntary action-since other channels are carelessly showing everything, remaining channels may feel-'why should I not show and disappoint my viewers'

@Vikram
This post is cross published in Churumuri, which has a better readership. Hope it reaches more people that way.

Also last evening channels were saying "we can't give out this info" or 'we're not revealing more than this'...so I hope they also got an understanding... (Arti also pointed out this)

Nidhi

Mohan said...

Sensationalizing everything is the new mantra of these media folks. They presume they have rights to talk about anything in any way they think of. They should have a minimum courtesy to think on what they are repoting and how they are doing it.

I had writted a post on the same media for a different topic though. They never seem to understand and correct their mistakes though.

Lakshmi said...

yup..rajdeep said this on tv..also told his correspondents that terrorists are watchg this so we are gvg general and delayed reportage..and he told his correspondent not to reveal specifics..the correspondent was ref to a sms he had recd fm someone in room no 5 in taj ..

Nitya said...

You've made a valid point. By Law, the media is not supposed to air such things in many countries. All the Elite media including players like NBC, CNN, NYTimes, ABC, FOX, Washington Post etc delay the report by 2hours. Why not follow it back home, where the terror is really happening?


The other alternative would be to air fabricated news, which could inturn misguide the terrorists :)

Logesh TamilSelvan said...

i have go with you Shri..
its only NEWsance channels in many cases..

hari said...

These news channels are like vultures, waiting to feed off any tradegy. I have absolutely no respect for their professionalism or their sensitivity in reporting events which might affect ongoing operations.

The way they zoomed in to show specific windows in the Taj Hotel manned by NSG Commandoes was absolutely shocking.

Also the way they pushed mikes into the mouths of the traumatized rescued hostages showed how little they care for the dignity and privacy of people.

Later even after the military had asked them to show restraint, they couldn't resist the temptation to zoom in and show critical operational details.

i voice said...

I watched very little of what was happening, firstly because there was no access to TV and secondly because it kinda made me numb, the minute by minute update. Come to think of it, the english news channels have grown in their own sense. The hindi news channels were garish in what they were showing and saying.
As an person who studied to be in the media, the first things we were taught were about the responsibilities of the media as well as the journalist. Somewhere down the path of commercialization it has been disregarded and discarded.
an imposition by the govt. on the media will only instigate them to make a hue and cry about freedom of speech and information, and thereby manipulating with it to gain the viewership, by claiming that the common man is being deprived of her/ his right.
the only way it can be done is a self imposed regulation.
one of the possible solutions is to decrease the repetition of the information and like you said, a deferred live programming.

Lunatic said...

Nidhi,
I think they have an understanding with the forces with regards to what they are allowed to reveal. I dont think that the forces are stupid enough to allow everything to be aired when lives of their troops are at stake. And if thats the case then i believe its not the media but the security forces themselves who are to blame as a times it is them who shield, allow and help the media cover the situation.

Supreetha said...

I absolutely agree. We will be giving away our strategies and positions to the terrorists by telecasting the proceedings live.

And the home minister of the country and the army/navy chiefs giving sound bites and explaining the operation as the situation was progressing was downright stupid.

Kudos to every officer who was involved in containing the attack of terrorists.

- Harsha Koda - said...

When the security forces 'cut the cable tv' in the hotels and the Nariman house area... i think we were naive to think that the terrorists were using the TV as a source of information... they were using it for entertainment!

they were using Blackberries, GPS and GPRS enabled tools and other sophisticated devices... so they could have got the news from hundreds of sources anyway...

i'm sure there was a hacker sitting on the ministry of defense(or internal security) mail server and monitoring the posts... they were bloody advanced in their tech-skills... we can see it by the way they sent the email

i think the only thing that the 'delayed' TV broadcast would have achieved is sent a nation into panic... with no info people are bound to panic... like what happened on day 2 at the VT station.. the rumour was stopped only because of the fast action by the media.

media is something we have to live with... we have some 30 mews channels in India.... WOW!... just being a little 'discreet' in 'national interest' is what is needed...

Can someone tell me if the World Trade Center bombing telecast was LIVE or 'delayed LIVE'... :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks everyone for the support.

Mohan,
Earlier there used to be editors who sort the incoming news items for their correctness, relevance, usefulness etc. These days everything is live and anything that cameraman seens is passed as a news.. Sad.

Lakshmi:
Yes, At the end they did show some sense, but still revealed a lot- of course they can't shut shop when competition is showing everything without any thinking.

Nitya:
Well, airing fabricated news is good idea, but takes some planning and thinking.

Logesh, good to see you after long time

Hari:
Yes, the over enthusiasm was uncalled for


Belle:
Thanks for dropping by. Yes. As Lunatic said atleast security forces and politicians could have stoppped giving each and every update to media and kept them few kms away from the site...

Lunatic- point noted. Our politians are also to be blamed for not keeping their mouth shut.

Supreetha-
Agreed.

Harsha
Yes, we've certainly under estimated them. Well, news channels and their websites are the primary source of information from which others learn and blog/tweet. So curbing these two and imposing a delay should work, in my opinion.

Not everything needs to be delayed. Generic information can be aired live.

Thanks everyone again. Hope they pick up some responsibility...

mrrk said...

You r correct dude.

vishal daldani have started an onloine petition raising the same issue. its named small changes . do sign in that

Shrinidhi Hande said...

mrrk,

Yes, I've signed it and have included the link in the post

LinkWithin