Thursday, November 27, 2008

TV News Channels, Aaracha Maavu, etc

Today, in order to see something about the mumbai attacks, I turned on CNN with much trepidation. There is always a potential that you can end up watching it for 2 days and ruin your vacation. I remember 2-3 incidents where I got into watching the TV phenomena of "breaking news". The first time was when a mad Steffi Graf fan stabbed Monica Seles. Second time was when the twin towers were destroyed and the third time was when that nut case Korean killed everyone at sight at Virginia Tech. I never watch the news because most of it is useless information and never helps you become a more informed person (or) improves your knowledge of the world. It in fact confuses you with so many details that you become more of a random person. In fact my hunch is that people who don't watch the news (with the sort of obsession that has become common) are as informed (if not more) as the average news channel junkie. Many times, I sympathise people who watch news too much for the sake of gaining knowledge. Thinking about this made me realize what my actual problem with "breaking news" phenomena was.
They don't have enough news.
They really don't. Their entire news information about an event can be summed up in about 1 paragraph, which should take an anchor about 1 minute to read it out. The remaining 52 hours and 59 minutes of "live... breaking news" type coverage is all "aaracha maavu". They keep repeating the same thing again and again and again. Many people are interviewed - they all say the same thing. Many anchors "on the field" are dialed into the news room. Those news anchors say the same thing. Sometimes you can feel the news anchor searching for words, there is an awkward pause and then they go back, re-summarize the events so far and say the same thing again in different words. The excuse given by American news channels is "for those of you who just joined us". Indian news channels don't even care about this. They say the same things about 3000 times with the same intensity and passion. It makes you feel that the same terrorist attack has happened again. Again and again for 3000 times.
The news/media people don't intend to provide accurate useful news. If that happens it is just an accidental side-effect. "Breaking news" is like a Vijay/Ajith movie. They are eager to be the first people to give a funny name (such as "war on mumbai") to sensationalize the event, provide action and thrills now and then to wow the audience and sprinkle some "items" here and there. In not so distant future, I certainly see sexy-dance-by-hot-news-anchor as part of the package. Then there are bloggers who write the same information several times condemning terrorists asking questions to nobody in particular (such as "what are we as a country doing about this" etc). Not realizing that even having an opinion about most events is useless. Thankfully, the news people have stopped mentioning "the mumbaikar spirit". That used to add to the loads of useless crap people put out in the name of news.
Come to think about it - my blog has the potential to be an excellent news channel. Both provide worthless information in voluminous detail. When satellite TV boomed in India and every old man I knew began watching news with obsession - I told my father, periappa, opposite house old man that people who watch BBC and those who read Opinion pieces in Hindu are very boring people. That they should watch MTV instead. A decade later I stand by those comments (minus the MTV part).

15 comments:

Sundar Narayanan said...

and I would be honored if you call me to provide expert opinion on various topics. I could wear thick glasses, talk in metaphors and be a guest on your channel..

apparently I am very well qualified !

you are too.. if you think about it.

:)

sundar said...

I cannot agree with you more.

maxdavinci said...

ayyo ipdi ezdhina what will desipundit do for a week full of masala!

damn twitter has gone crazy and not to mention the blogs. Everyone wants to give their 2 paisa and amke a so-called difference!

Karthik Narayanan said...

Hey Hawk,

If you were watching CNN did you see that stupid she - reporter on 'ground zero' get taken on by an angry mob?

Some unexpected comical moments... Sadly sitting at Taipei, we do not get the Indian News channels... So could not get the full tamasha....

Burkha Dutt's karthugal would have been fun.. And Rajdeep.... He would have jumped in with another rag tag set of experts....

Speaking of experts, you missed that point... CNN showing phone calls and opinions of Kuppan, Suppan and Karupayee.... Thaanga mudiaylai...

This is only the begining... Arasiyal katchigal innum arramikave illai....

hayyo hayyo!

Raji said...

Hawkeye, u are abs rite...I watched all the news channel for 5 hrs and ended up receiving the same news and information but from different faces.It's exactly an aracha maavu :)

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Suresh said...

Did you know that Amit Varma (I'm not sure if it's the blogger/journo) was on CNN over the phone? He was supposed to have been someone near the Taj Mahal hotel (or maybe the other one).

Reminded me of that Vikraman movie comedy: "Building idinjappo New York'la dhan irundhen. aama, George Bush'ku naan dhan phone panni sonnen!"

Saraks said...

You were wrong about the mumbaikar spirit. They have started now with all that crap again. And whats even worse is how insensitive they get with all the captions and tag lines. And of course the drama they try to build.

Hawkeye said...

sundar,

if you really want to be a popular analyst - you could say something like "socio political situation in india has been perpetuating crimes against minority comminty that has led to the ventilation of frustration" and get claps from the so called secular crowd.

btw looking forward to meeting you in dec.

sundar,

:-)

max,

CNN interviewed a couple of people who wrote twitter - I have no idea what difference they could hve made using twitter.

Karthick,

thanks god I am away from barkha dutt.

raji,

CNN is doing aracha maavu of ATS chief's death 24 hours after the first news came out.

suresh,

yes. it was same amit varma. he even mentioned it in his blog. you shld have seen some guy called deepak chopra talking. amazing stupidity.


saraks,

yes. they have.

Venkat said...

but you have to admit that it (news channel, expert opinion, aracha mavu) has entertainment value.
there's a certain weird allure in listening to experts like 'Shobha De', 'Mahesh Bhatt' jam with political and other spocs...
I was fixated on this debate on CNN yesterday which involved the Congress, BJP spokesperson, Mahesh Bhatt and a couple of others. Not because it was intelligent talk, but for some inexplicable reason..
this Rajdeep dude...he's something else..

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maduraiveeran said...

I don't watch news like crazy either. I just watch for updates once a while. I was watching CNN and within a span of 20 minutes they repeated the same thing that they said in the pretext of providing a summary. I promptly switched to something else. I didn't read my blog feeds for 2 days and I was greeted with several posts on Mumbai, I am yet to read a lot of them. I wrote a generic post on terrorism though.

Anonymous said...

Heh!! Come on.. What do you expect the media to cover when there is a terror strike in our commercial hub? For that matter any city..

Entire nation is seeing that.. Look at the number of searches for mumbai attacks(and related) in google.. That is just by people who are outside India(and other Asia pacific regions.)..

With specific reference to Mumbai attacks, there were good amount of updates every 30 mins (now whether they were really needed or not is a separate issue).

Aracha maavaye araikardu..... I am sure none of us have stopped writing because we are fed up of all the 26 letters in English..[This might really sound illogical.."controversial ah ethavathu sollalana ennakku thookam varaadu :)]

Anonymous said...

While I agree with you, I would like to play the devil's advocate here... When an incident of this magnitude was happening, what do you expect them to show? They could only show what was happening till then. I appreciate that they weren't creating / preempting MUCH (some of them did that too, such as the firing at RBI HQ, CST, etc.) It's business for them and you have the choice to switch to another channel. However, it was their stupid exclusive & only-on-this-channel thing, which gave away our commandos position and strategies. In situations like this, the government should ban any such mindless live coverage .

GV

Raghu said...

Nice post Hawkeye...well thought-out and shares my every centiment whenever I watch "breaking news"...if ever I catch hold of that perisu in 'Mudhal Mariyadhai'...will drag him to the pigs who call themselves good journalists on TV...and make him "REPEATuuu" the same dialogue...over & over again.

Unnmai eppavoo sethu pochu....it is all CRAP that gets SOLD on TV...for bottom-lines....News is also sensationlized like any other brand/celebrity etc.

Am pissed beyond belief - like someone already commented. The polico machine hasn't even started ringing....gaaawwwddd save us !!