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Making News

The news of Osama bin Laden’s killing yesterday swept everything else off our news channels.

The search for the missing helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh CM Dorjee Khandu was forgotten, as was the Air India pilots’ strike. The political hysteria that would normally have looked forward to the election today in Singur and Nandigram- two important cogs in the West Bengal wheel- was conspicuous by its absence. The IPL has taken a backseat, as have Kate-and-William’s honeymoon plans and the Canadian elections- if they were ever in the picture.

Who really decides what should actually be on the radar of news channels and other media outlets? While it is true that bin Laden’s death is major news that will have wide repercussions, was it entirely right to shut out all domestic news in favour of debate and discussion on Operation Geronimo? That India has a lot to worry about in terms of security is nothing new, and analysing the aftermath of the American operations in Pakistan is indeed imperative considering India’s geographical and ideological situation. This, however, doesn’t mean that life will not go on as usual.

News channels tend to go on an overdrive whenever things remotely of note happen; they have of course upped the sensation levels now that the nearly ten-year-old struggle following the terrorist attacks of September 11 has reached its climax. This still doesn’t warrant the blinkered news coverage that was on offer on every single news channel. What happened to unbiased reporting and global coverage? The British media went crazy over the royal wedding, but the BBC did manage to squeeze in a few minutes of international news even as Mishal Husain wielded the mike for hours with the wedding pomp and pageantry for a backdrop.

The constant coverage of the operation leading to bin Laden’s death had its moments of bloopers- newscasters kept confusing Osama with Obama. (I admit it must have been a pretty hard day at work for them, repeating the words ‘in fact’ and ‘actually’ everytime the camera panned on something they didn’t have a script for.) The quality of news broadcasting is determined not just by the people who host the shows, but also by the content. Judging from yesterday’s hoopla and the evident lack of original content, our news channels have a very long way to go.

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