Did the non-stop television coverage of the terror attack on Bombay reveal operational details of the commando operations, endanger the lives of hostages, intrude into the personal lives of victims and relatives, etc?
In today’s Indian Express, the founder of India TV, Rajat Sharma, claims he tried an interesting experiment last Saturday. He invited a former army chief to address the staff “to understand, from a decorated war hero, whether news channels went overboard in their coverage”, and what precautions, if any, producers, reporters and camerapersons should have taken while showing “live” action.
“To my surprise, the former army chief was emphatic: “News channels did nothing wrong. Your coverage didn’t do any harm whatsoever to the commandos! I’ve handled action as a major, then as a full colonel, and finally as an army commander in anti-terrorist operations, and there’s nothing I could make out from the news channel about the strategy of our commandos.
“Frankly, I expected him to echo what some have been saying—how terrorists got valuable clues on the commando plan by watching our channels. But sample what he said: “Do you think that terrorists holed up in a hotel facing commando fire had time to watch TV?”
“A young reporter persisted. He reminded the general of the “widespread belief” that the terrorists were being briefed on their Blackberrys by their bosses, watching our news channels. Promptly came the angry reply. “Anyone suggesting this must be mad. (Even) I could not get an idea about the action plan. Who has the time to look at TV and Blackberrys when you are in the midst of gunfire?”
Read the full article here: Reality, not television
Read Barkha Dutt’s defence: ‘The media is not the message. The viewer is king’
Also read: ‘NDTV: Navy chief’s comment is defamatory’