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).