Death—ordinary, unglamourous, “smalltown” death—increasingly catches the glitzy, big-city English media on the wrong foot.
Unlike the “26/11” siege of Bombay, in which almost as many people were killed as in the Mangalore air crash, you do not find TV and print journalists falling over each other to catch the “first flight” to the spot.
Or, crawling on all fours to shoot a piece to camera, or to provide what used to be known simply as copy but is now fancifully called “narrative”.
As if death by any cause other than “terror” is no death.
As if death in any city other than Bombay and Delhi is no death.
As if death outside of a five-star hotel or two is no death.
The wisecrack of the day comes from Pritish Nandy, former editor of the now-defunct The Illustrated Weekly of India, as if the media did “anonymous people” a favour by giving them airtime on a day like 22 May 2010. Otherwise, they might as well not have existed as far as the media was concerned.
As if, otherwise, the media’s mandate is to merely bring home celebrities and “people like us”? PLUs like the food writer killed in 26/11? The banking executive who had a narrow escape? The board of directors who were smuggled out of the chimney?
Is making people “famous”—manufacturing fame—the media’s sole business?