The Ugly Fight for 'Breaking' News...
by Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network
Mangalore, Jun 10: It is not even a month since the tragic plane crash in Mangalore that crushed the valuable lives of 158 people. Some of unidentified bodies were buried en masse recently much to the sorrow of many family members and relatives who, in addition to the pain of losing their dear ones suffered the distressing act of not having the body for carrying out the last rites. The atmosphere is still gloomy in and around Mangalore as the public discussion invariably begins or ends with the air crash tragedy.
No doubt there is communication revolution in our country and news reaches every nook and corner within a fraction of a second. But unfortunately in the mad rat race among some of the regional the television channels who are bent upon breaking news at any cost, public concern seems to have taken a backseat in their itinerary to be the first to provide sensational or so called breaking news, which very often turns out to be inaccurate, false or wrong . And this is what happened exactly yesterday in Mangalore Bajpe airport that created horror among fliers as well as their family members and relatives when TV 9 and Suvarna News Channels vied with each other to give a breaking news saying that Air India flight from Abudabhi had skidded at Bajpe airport but the pilot had succeeded in maneuvering the flight and another plane tragedy was averted. First it was TV 9 which reported the incident as breaking news and soon Suvarna news channel also started giving it as breaking news. Needless to say it once again sent shock waves among people in Mangalore and the anxious relatives in Abudabhi and other Gulf countries. In fact Air India staff was concerned when anxious callers wanted to know more about the so called near mishap and were trying to figure out from where the false alarm had started ringing.
The Air India Express officials had a tough time convincing all fretful callers that no incident of that kind had happened mainly because there was no Abudabhi flight which was scheduled to arrive at Mangalore airport yesterday. Air India Express Station Manager Chellam Prasad speaking to daijiworld about the false alarm being raised by the channels said “first of all there was no flight from Abudhabi which was scheduled to arrive. So when some television channels and even overseas callers called and asked to give information on the supposed skidding of the flight I was stunned wondering from where the news had emanated. It was then revealed that a regional television channel’s local reporter presumed or imagined about such a possibility and sent the news. The rival channel in its alacrity not be left behind in claiming the credit to be “the first to give away the breaking news” started flashing the same news immediately without waiting to confirm the authenticity of the said news. And soon there was utter chaos with other television channels trying to confirm the news. Even daijiworld office was flooded with calls from the gulf region and the local relatives to confirm the news and the staff had a tough time convincing the worried callers negating the news. Some callers even blamed daijiworld for being too slow in breaking the news.
It may be recalled that even during the May 22nd air crash in Mangalore these channels as well as a national English news channel went on giving wrong information for about 2 hours after the crash that the flight from Mangalore had crashed while taking off from Bajpe airport when in fact there are no early morning flights to the gulf region. (These channels flashed the news as 'Mangalore - Muscat Flight crashed at Mangalore Airport). This faux fax was mainly due to the unwanted urgency of these television channels which are competing with one another for supremacy by sidetracking all journalistic ethics and flash news taking from their rival channels. One national English news channel that went on giving wrong news for 2 hours about the Mangalore plane crash later claimed that it was the first to break the news, which was indeed pathetic and can be termed as an insensate folly.
About the confusion created yesterday Chellam Prasad says that she confronted the local reporter of the channel who had given the wrong buzz and took him to task for not confirming the authenticity of the news. “I know the credibility of Air India Express is at stake by such a false alarm. But more than the consequences I am concerned about the unnecessary panic and commotion it creates among the people as it is the most sensitive period for all of us when we are trying to come to terms with the recent tragedy and when we are still mourning the people who had died in the crash. I think the channels and reporters need to follow journalistic ethics when it comes to airing such sensitive news”.
True. Journalists have to restrain themselves from sensationalizing the news and also from raising false alarm. But one wonders what prompted this local reporter of the channel to give such wrong news, is the moot question now. It is now believed that the early morning Dubai-Mangalore flight on 9th June 2010 got diverted to Calicut without landing at Bajpe due to low visibility and rain. According to Air India sources after the recent crash there seems to be some precautionary measures adopted and no risk is taken when it comes to visibility. The flight came back to Mangalore at 9.45 am and the Doha Bahrain flight was scheduled at 11am. There the matter ended. It must be remembered here that whenever a particular flight is unable to land in the scheduled airport it should be diverted to the nearest airport and for Mangalore Calicut happens to be the nearest airport
It is now revealed that the local reporter of the TV channel called up someone at the airport and asked about Abudhabi flight. When he was told that there was no scheduled Abudabhi flight it seems he presumed that the flight skidded at Bajpe and blaa bla…..
Commenting on this kind of journalism sans all ethics Chellam Prasad says “it is a mystery to me as to how this reporter presumed the flight skidded where there was no such flight or when such an incident did not occur. This reporter who says got the news from airport from unauthorized sources did not think it fit to confirm it from authentic sources and went about creating a ruckus. Of course there was some confusion about the crew for the Delhi-bound flight from Mangalore which is purely our internal matter and is common among all airlines. But that alone should not lead to speculation and presumption and result in airing false news by TV channels”.
Given the sensitivity of the matter Chellam’s annoyance at the turn of yesterday’s events is justified as it is the question of creating canards and spoiling the reputation of the national airlines of the country. But more than that the public is put into unnecessary fretfulness and panic by their sheer act of recklessness and efforts to obfuscate the public.
Finally Air India had to do some damage control measure as the Bangalore office went to the T V channel’s Bangalore office and asked for an apology for the breach of journalistic ethics and act of impropriety. One is not sure whether the television channel obliged or not. It also must be noted that these channels carry false news and recant it unashamedly. Credibility for them is nothing but a farce.
The public also need to exercise some restraint when it comes to trusting these news channels which lack credibility and integrity. That is the only way to teach a bitter lesson to the media which takes the public for a royal ride. Somewhere someone has to bell the cat.