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1.4.13

European Journal of Academic Essays 1(4): 82-88, 2014

ISSN: 2183-1904

www.euroessays.org

 

Dynamics of ‘Terror Reporting’ Indian Media and the Changing Perspective on Terrorism

 

Raj, Sony. J1, Sreekumar, Rohini2

 

1 Institute of Communication, Entertainment and Media, School of Leadership Studies, St. Thomas University, 16401 NW 37Avenue, Miami Gardens, Florida 33054, USA

 

2 School of Arts and Social Sciences, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, 47500 Bandar Sunway, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

Abstract: Today, no country is left untouched by the bitter hands of terrorism, where media plays a very critical role as an informer, forecaster, and at the worst a mediator. India is one of those SAARC countries which are frequently being threatened with terrorist activities. Even though being one of the largest media scenes, Indian media never indulged in going deep into the issues of terrorism. In the competitive run for visual treat, media lose the opportunity to elucidate and investigate the terrorist attacks which is frequenting in the Indian soil. Media being the indispensable part of terrorist and anti-terrorist activities in India, this paper examines what need to be the role, responsibilities, and the nature of treating an issue like terrorist attacks.

Keywords: India, terrorism, Mumbai attack, Godhra riot, Kashmir, speculation.

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1. Introduction

Terrorism, according to United States Codes, a premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, has been for a long time being used as an instrument to alter the social, political and economic order of a country, both by internal group and international terrorist factions. The increasing incidents of terrorist attacks can be owed to the changing political scenario, diminishing geographical borders, cross border governance and above all the explosion in the field of information technology, production and manufacturing. As the terrorist attacks became more sophisticated and dramatic, media began to prioritize it. But for some years, before the proliferation of television channels, newspapers gave only the factual accounts of the events, which amended when terrorism changed its countenance from mere hijacking of 1970s and 80s to a strategically planned explosive missions and attacks, with or without suicide bombers.  A while back, crisis and war reporting proved to be challenging considering the government hold and control over it. However, though contradictory, this got much more critical when ICT age made reporting so much easier that a control over it perhaps become futile. Today, no country is left untouched by the bitter hands of terrorism, where media plays a very critical role as an informer, anticipator, and at the worst a mediator. India is one of those SAARC countries which is frequently a major target of terrorist activities. But Indian media was always immature to look deep into the issues. The responsibility of Indian media ends up by showing some fantastic live footage together with sentimental voice over.  This paper analyses the journey of Indian media from Godhra Riots in 2001, which was actually the first terrorist attack after the proliferation of television channels in India, to the recent Mumbai attack in 2008 and Hyderabad blast in 2013.

There is a large number of articles on the political, social and religious implications of terrorism nationally and internationally, many of them pointing at the mediated side of the same. But the Indian context was not explored except for some vague and general documentation. Hence this paper is a humble effort to trace the transition of media coverage through a series of terror attacks starting from a brief discussion on the onset of terrorism here. The main focus of this article is on the changes of media coverage from Godhra Riots and Mumbai Terrorist attack to Hyderabad blast in 2013

 

  1. Terrorism in Indian Soil

The root of terrorism in India goes back to the partition of India after independence. It not only witnessed a geographical partition, but an emotional and cultural separation of Hindus and Muslims, sowing the seed for insurgencies. Gradually ‘Kashmir’ became a major issue as majority there being Muslims and the main target of a attack. India accuses the Inter-Service Intelligence of Pakistan for the terrorist attacks in Kashmir while Pakistan accuses Indian army for insurgencies and human right violations there. India frequently asserts that most of the separatist militant groups are based in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir (also known as Azad Kashmir).

As far an Indian scenario is concerned all terrorist acts are motivated by two factors- social and political injustice and the belief that violence will be effective in ushering change.  Despite this external threat, in India, majority of insurgencies result from within the country. The ‘Blue star operation’ in the famous Golden temple, eventually got its painful retribution, when Indira Gandhi, the Iron Lady of India was gunned down by her own body guards. Civil and Maoist insurgencies became a common phenomenon in many parts of India, for instance the ULFA attacks. A different sentiment guided the LTTE to plan the suicide attack on the young and ambitious Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India by the ‘Tamil tigers’. However, terrorism took an entirely new definition with the slaughter of 2000 Muslim civilians by the Hindu right wing activists in the State of Gujarat in 2002.

In India, a War on Terrorism can be explained based on many reasons, the main among which is the formation of separate Indian state, a religious separation between Indian and Pakistan. This geographical separation caused a mental disparity between several religions in the democratic India.

The fact is that even six decades later we could not integrate our Muslims in to the mainstream, at east many Muslims feel the way, irrespective of what we may say in our propaganda…the Hindu Muslim social divide is wider than ever…six decades later both the communities still continue to live in isolation… [1]

Hence the context of  a multi-dimensional and entirely sundry terrorist attacks needs to be handled with a responsible fourth estate so that they could effectively eliminate skepticism and vague ideas and there by control any further religious insurgencies. But how far Indian media is successful in this context is analyzed in the following section.

3. ‘Mediated’ Terrorism – From Godhra Riots to the visual delight of Mumbai terrorist attack

Reports about war and terrorism have always ‘enlightened’ and entertained people, particularly through newspaper reports. A decade before, media was a responsible informer, disseminating news in a balanced and ethical way. When it turned its lens as a commercialized enterprise, naturally competition enhanced, which paved the way for sensationalism and a greed for scoops.

At worst, there is a cynical and sinister drive from the editorial staff of each channel urging its reporters to go for the most explicit details and the most gut-wrenching imagery. It reeks of exploiting people’s morbid curiosity and it shows a media willing to stoop as low as possible in the quest for ratings. This isn’t reporting, it’s glorified wreckage gazing. [2]

Indian media is not an exception in this run. During the period of blue star operation or the iniquitous Bombay communal riots, as television was not as popular as in these days, they remained obscure to sensationalism. It was during Godhra riot in Gujarat in 2002 that, for the first time, terrorism got national and international popularity particularly by the satellite channels [3]. However, it was after the Kargil war that war and terror reporting began to be critically looked upon in India, which soared after the sensitized live coverage of Mumbai blast in 2008. The collective role of Indian media in the recent Mumbai terrorist attack takes the role of a media to a baffling phase – whether it a committed informer or a mere re-player of visuals in its quest for a media rating.

As a context to this, a brief insight into the Kandahar Flight hijacking episode could be supportive.  In December 1999, Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked to Kandahar, where the Taliban barricaded any commando assault by making a strong military security around it. When the hijackers demanded the release of hardened militants like Masood Azar from Indian jails in exchange for IC-814’s passengers, and threatened to blow up the plane otherwise, the Indian mainstream media-TV and print, English and vernacular-went berserk. In the name of wisdom, journalists proceeded to lash a national turmoil in favor of securing the release of the passengers at any cost over the following days. The six day ordeal for the passengers ended when the Indian government agreed to release three Islamic militants from Indian jails, who are associated with Pakistan backed Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organizations [4]. The immaturity of the Indian media in portraying only the sensitized emotional situation of passengers and their families together with emotional commentaries and bytes, making every visual a hot human interest story, added to the success of the terrorist. As soon as the passengers were released, within an overnight, the same media that had been screaming for the rescue of the passengers turned its focus to criticizing the government. A report in India Today magazine goes like this,

When a visibly somber Atal Bihari Vajpayee informed the nation in the final hours of 1999 of India’s first resolution of the new century he sounded less than convincing. It’s not that his desire “to join hands across nations to rid the world of terrorism” lacked sincerity; it was bereft of credibility. Just a few hours before, the Government had to digest the awkward spectacle of the country’s Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh escorting three terrorists to their freedom. In exchange for the lives of 155 passengers and crew of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight IC 814. [5]

It only took less than three years for media to start yet another saga of ‘news’ in the form of Godhra riot.  On 27 February 2002, the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra city in Gujarat was attacked by a large Muslim mob in a conspiracy, killing some 58 passengers who were returning from Ayodhya.  The attack was followed by retaliatory massacres against Muslims and led to communal riots in many places, compromising the lives of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus [6]. For the satellite channels it seemed to be a jackpot to tackle more audience through its live coverage and by indulging in serious political discourse. For the first time, people witness the live telecast of a riot from their drawing rooms.

When CNN brought the Gulf War to the people of India in 1991 it didn’t make much impact as private cable network was still a luxury for the common man then. A year after, in 1992, the first satellite channel in India started broadcasting, and by 1996, Stat TV destroyed this monopoly erstwhile enjoyed by Zee. By 2000, many commercial satellite channels owned by ‘extremely powerful media-conglomerates’ [7]  entered the media scene, which in effect enhanced the tension and competition between print media, as the latter feels the proliferation of satellite channels is a threat to the status they enjoyed till then.

Godhra riots, however, gave all these media a break to celebrate. All the television crews made their presence felt at the riot area trying to capture the human agony and disaster. At the wake of this over-powering visual drama on the riot on newspapers and news channels, Press Council issued guidelines for newspapers that the name of the community involved in the attack should not be mentioned. However this made little effect for the television news drama as those guidelines is never applicable to them.

This decision was mandatory as there was a harrowing trend among the biased newspapers to instigate the public through their subjective predicaments [8]. With media influencing the public to a greater extend, politicians ensure that their views and perceptions have been covered by the media prominently [9].The propagandist model of press is well articulated during this period. The local Guajarati dailies like Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar was the mouth piece of BJP government and took an extreme Hindus side, provoking communalism and terrorizing people through their news reports. On 6th march 2002, one of the Headlines of Sandesh went like this – Hindus Beware: Haj Pilgrims Return with a deadly Conspiracy. People’s Union for Civil Liberties analyzed that with few devices these newspapers sensationalized the violence like placing photographs of burnt bodies on the front page, over-pouring photographs with red color for a visual dynamism.

As far as television is concerned, since being the first instance of a sensationalized live telecast of a riot, the government was not prepared to mellow down the sensitive coverage by formulating any stringent guidelines.   The very first day of riot, television channels were glutted with the live images of burnt bodies, wailings and rescue activities, with sentimental voice-over. On 28 February 2002, the next day of the Godhra riot, Gujarath Samachar put the photographs of the burned bodies and bogies above the masthead. But they tried to abstain from using the name of communities or the people involved in the riots, said to be the adhering to the print convention. But this ethical stand could not be sustained for long. Within few days, channels started identifying the communities, with Star News even blatantly repeating the words ‘Hindus’ and ‘Muslims’ instigating religious disparities.  The prominent journalist Barkha Dutt, who were then in Star News strongly disagree with the allegations against media.

Gujarat was not a communal riot. A riot by definition must mean incidents of mutual violence, of communities attacking each other in a retaliatory cycle. In those circumstances, yes, it makes sense to be circumspect about naming who is doing what to whom. But there was nothing ambivalent or amorphous about the violence in Gujarat. Several politicians have described the madness that swept the state for those three days as a “spontaneous reaction” to what happened at Godhra. But think about it. What’s so spontaneous about an attack that is planned so meticulously that only the seventh shop in a crowded lane gets razed to the ground but everything around it is untouched and undamaged? [10]

At one juncture, the sensationalism and communal reporting was so overpowering that the Press Council of India warned media that it would take action under Indian Penal Code [11]

…instead of alleviating communal unrest, (they) played “an ignoble role in inciting communal passions leading to large-scale rioting, arson and pillage in the state concerned. [11]

When the situation became all worse, BJP government who was governing both at Gujarat and central, ordered cable services to blackout Star News, Zee News, CNN and Aaj Tak.  The conflict between BJP and media didn’t end with that. On December 2002, after the general election in which Modi came out successful, Star TV interviewer asked Modi about the ‘feelings of insecurity and anxiety that still prevailed among Gujarat’s minorities’ [12]. Narendra Modi countered with a fierce delusion

What insecurity are you talking about? People like you should apologize to the five crore Gujaratis for asking such questions. Have you not learnt your lesson? If you continue like this, you will have to pay the price. [13]

In another interview for Outlook magazine, Narendra Modi reprimanded when asked about blacking out news channels;

I blacked out just one channel because of the provocative reporting methods used. Traditionally, the print media has used its own methods of self-censorship, taking care not to mention the name of communities while reporting riots. If every half-an-hour names of communities are going to be mentioned, without any substantiation or any attribution, it inflames the situation instead of allaying it [14]

According to Mehta [12], this interview brought forth a year of tension between the television crews and the BJP government. It is so antithetical that the same person who criticized the national media, commended and praised head and toe of local newspapers who supported government [13]. In fact, Godhra riot paved the way for a scuffle between local and national media, with politicians as its middlemen. Sardesai [13] have further given evidence of a letter Modi has written to Sandesh,

The newspapers of the state played a decisive role as a link between the people and the government. You have served the humanity in a big way…It is noteworthy that the newspapers of Gujarat gave their full support to the state government in undertaking this difficult task. I am happy to note that your newspaper exercised restraint during the communal disturbances in the wake of the Godhra incident. I am grateful to you.

However, the riot was a pilot episode for the new media who used this event to learn and pilosh thier journalistic capapbilities in a cluttered media sphere. Under the pressure of a 24×7 competitive live coverage, Mumbai attack in 2008 was portrayed in length and breadth of an entertainer. The coverage was seen harmful enough for the police and the Broadcasting ministry to blackout news channels during the decisive day taking into consideration the internal security. The channels were broadcasting live the police siege and encounter in Taj Residency, where the inmates were kept hostage by the terrorist. This indeed helped terrorist camped in the hotel to trace the position and movements of commandos which detriment the overall operation. The puerility of media rather crossed its frontier when the relatives and dear ones of the hostages were forced to speak before camera about their dispiriting situation. An instant goes like this when a very prominent woman journalist in India, Barkha Dutt showed her responsibility:-

As you wait here, outside the Taj, even as you hear the sound of gunfire and explosions from inside the hotel, tell us what thoughts are going through your head? [15]

Like an action film, even the children were deeply engaged in the visuals, and within a day terrorists became their heroes. Such speculative reporting gives no conclusion or definition of issues, but only some visual camouflages. Media is never devoid of ‘news’ and hence when the sensitiveness of the Godhra riot faded off, it was easy for them to shift their focus to newer terrains.

After some five years, media is still in its stagnant position regarding the terror reporting. It could be said that media became more speculative in giving news apart from its visual extravaganza. To take a recent instance, in 2013 February 21 Hyderabad was wobbled with the twin blast in Dilsukhnagar. Even when investigation was on full swing and hadn’t reached any conclusions on the any specific terror group behind this, newspapers began to speculate and reach conclusion on the possible links to popular terror groups mainly Indian Mujahedeen. A news on Time of India on the very next day speculates like this,

The twin blasts at Hyderabad are suspected to be the handiwork of Indian Mujahideen (IM) commander Riyaz Bhatkal [16]

Such an assumption is supported by no official sources and on the very next sentence, they themselves claims that “intelligence agencies are in no rush to jump to a judgment” [16]. The situation becomes worse when a historical feature or news is attached to the event as in the case of the news on previous attacks in Hyderabad. Most of the newspapers  went back to link this incident to the previous history of attacks in Hyderabad, but preferably only commenting on the 2007 twin blasts in Hyderabad in which three suspects of IM were arrested. It should be noted that only a few months before the 2007 twin attacks, the terrifying Mecca Masjid bombing occurred in the Masjid in Old Hyderabad. Media decisively ignored this incident of what could be termed ‘Hindu terrorism’ to include reference only to the one that involves Muslim terror groups. The situation worsened when one of the prominent Hindi language news channel, India TV, owned by a prominent Indian journalist Rajat Sharma, telecasted a ‘groundbreaking’ feature story on the eight main conspirators behind the attack, showing their photographs and background informations [17]. The report conceitedly points out Manzar Imam as the brain behind the attack who escaped back to Pakistan after plotting the attack [17].   However, Manzar Imam was killed in a targeted attack on January 17, a few days before the attack in Hyderabad. Being the member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), he is a staunch opponent and foe of Taliban and their terror tracks, and hence, was targeted by the Tehreek- e- Taliban militant group.  Though the breaking-story has been quickly expunged from the slot after a day (with no trace of that news in their website or YouTube) when the error was brought to the fore, this was carried over by the Pakistani media as an example of the irresponsible Indian media. This triggered wide criticism across Pakistan with many media lashing against the Indian media holding on the news report of India TV, thereby broadening the political aversion between the countries. Such an amateurism has lead the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee to send an open letter to the Press Council of India (PCI) on trend of media-investigation and speculation on bomb attacks when the official investigation are still underway. The PCI Chairman Markamdeya Kutju expressed the same concern calling the act as “demonizing” and “totally irresponsible behavior” (“Why blame Muslim”, 2013). This case study of Hyderabad blast 2013, shed light on three major disparaging trend of Indian media – (i) quest for breaking news and sensationalism (ii) speculative journalism (iii) instigating religious (Islamic) hatred.

  1. Media language; a better sword

One of the ill-qualities of Indian media is that the word terrorism is never used unless it is a violence triggered by some Muslim fundamentalist group like al Qaeda or so on. These terrorist attacks have been used to project Islam in a negative light of religious extremism. This is of particular importance as even when any other religious factions set-free any terror attacks, they are not defined as ‘terrorist’ attempt. For instance, the Gujarat incident was merely covered as a religious riot even after the revelation that it was the Hindu activists who chose to attempt a wipe-out of Muslims. When all these riots create terror, the word “terrorism” is hardly used to designate these events. This result in an ideology that Islam is the source of terrorism.

In news reporting, language plays a very crucial role in making public opinion. Media sets its agenda always through such indirect and often speculative use of language and in some instances a word could add lot to the meaning of an issue. On a similar line as Godhra, in Odisha, members of Bajrang Dal, a youth wing Hindu organization opened a series of attacks on Christian churches and people against religious conversion. To add to the horror, priests were molested and murdered and churches were merely reduced to ashes. However none of the media identifies this as a terror attack, even though it stirred not less than a terrifying disaster.  If one scan through the newspapers it is interesting to note that the word ‘terrorist’ is not used to any militant organizations except for the one which involved Muslims – LTTE is called ‘Tigers’ or ‘Tamil rebels’, the Naxals are called Maoists or left-wing extremists and the Assam separatist group is termed ULFA.

Schmid and de Graaf [18] argue that when journalists interview their sources they will unintentionally take on some of the language and terminologies used by these sources. These sources can be anyone who provides information and news to the media as either through interview or press conferences. Most often government becomes the source of information about terrorist activities and sometimes this could limit to some political groups. Government wants this news coverage to advance their agenda and not that of the terrorist. Their main aim will be to examine whether the media present terrorists as criminals and avoid glamorizing them and are trying to seek publicity to help diffuse the tension of a situation, not contribute to it.  As far as media is concerned, their only aim is ‘scoops’ and ‘exclusives’ that can enhance their audience ratings and there by the popularity. As Alali and Eke asserts the news media or journalists act as amplifiers for either terrorists or government officials [19]. This forms the parameter and language of public discourses. Sonwalker has noted that when Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, the then only popular media, radio (AIR) tried to elude any communal violence by the speedy announcement that the assassinator was not a Muslim [9]. But these ethical considerations never came up with the new satellite revolution. In the run for TRP and under the constant thrust of competition, journalists have started remarking the communities which the attackers are based.

  1. Terrorist Using media

In the process of attempting to spread terror among a wider target group, there is a definite aid from mass medium. Like government sources using media to mellow down the impact of terror panic, terrorist organizations make use of it for escalating the terror of these attacks. In order to spread a fear psychosis and thus advance its political goals, a terrorist organization needs the media. Even when the epicenter of attack is limited the media coverage regarding the attack and its effects amplifies the terror, which is what expected from the media by these factions. The goal of these groups is to spread the message to a wider section of society who are not directly a victim of their attacks. Here media acts as a messenger or disseminator whereby the horror and anxiety is spread to wider audience. Media needs news, while terrorists need publicity, which explains the correlation between them. Hence as Nacos suggests the relationship between terrorism and the mass media is ‘symbiotic’ as both depend of each other for their own agenda [20].                      

Unlike other international terrorist attacks where terrorist group directly make use of mass media to communicate and propagate their needs, India never witnessed such straight forward communicative approach from the part of any terrorist groups. Particularly the indigenous terrorist groups like LTTE or ULFA has never made used media to directly interact with either government or their rivals. In fact, no one dare to or even step into the commando field and interview LTTE leader, Prabhakaran, except for Anita Pratap, who voyaged to the jungle and got exclusive interview which later on she published as book. Even though direct interaction through media was never the aim of terrorist groups in India, the extensive and sensationalized media coverage adds to the impact expected by the terrorist. Hence, in Indian context the relationship cannot be said as a direct one. Hoffman argues that “without the media’s coverage the act’s impact is arguably wasted, remaining narrowly confined to the immediate victim(s) of the attack, rather than reaching the wider ‘target audience’ at whom the terrorists’ violence is actually aimed” [21]. This is true because the coverage is not restricted to national or regional media, but even conquers international media scenes.

Media has great capability of producing fear psychosis in a more appalling way than a terrorist attack. Terrorists only exploit this quality of media, and hence the panic is spread by a combined occupation of media and terrorist group. The main aim of such desperate groups is not to trim down the population of a country by devastating events, but to get maximum publicity of their deeds and needs.

Terrorists are not necessarily interested in the deaths of three, or thirty – or even of three thousand – people. Rather, they allow the imagination of the target population to do their work for them. In fact, it is conceivable that the terrorists could attain their aims without carrying out a single attack; the desired panic could be produced by the continuous broadcast of threats and declarations – by radio and TV interviews, videos and all the familiar methods of psychological warfare.   [22]

This is notably applicable to terrorist attack in Mumbai and Patna. They gained nothing except for creating a fear psychosis. The way media assume a rewind of incidents and its planning, actually showcases the talent and shrewd, tactical groundwork and implication of attacks, thereby making the terrorist a genius rather than a criminal.

Nacos asserts that terrorists have four major media-dependent agenda [20]. The first is to generate fear; second, to address their motives, third to gain the respect and sympathy for their cause and finally to gain a fair status similar to that of political leaders.  But Indian media fails to categorize issues and treat it differently. An attack will be zealously covered on the day, but slowly the important deteriorates as the days past. Nevertheless, there won’t be a complete evaluation and inspection of the event with a rational solution or conclusion or at least a follow-up.

India has already witnessed how terrorists use live media updates to get clear picture about the hostages and commando operation. This explains the blackout of television channels for an hour during Mumbai commando operations to rescue the hostages from Taj Hotel. They were giving live coverage of whole scene and activities that the terrorist made use of it to understand the positions of commandos and their move. Media zealously telecasted the commandos laddering down the helicopters to the top of the building and taking positions in particular area, without considering the intimidation that it will add to the whole situation.

  1. Conclusion

The major motive behind a terrorist attack is to seek attention, and at this era of cluttered media space, their motive seems to get more than what they expect. Globally reporting terror is a major issue in the field of journalism. Though all media outlets had generated their own codes and conduct apart from the government regulations, these regulations leave amble gap for the media to indulge in sensationalism. As news channel compete for the rating and ranking, any insignificant clue or even fake SMS could generate the possibility of a breaking news in this new media culture.

In India, there is no proper code of conduct for Indian media to cover the sensitive issues. Constitution of India never guaranteed a separate right for freedom of Press. It is encompassed only in the 19(1)a of the constitution – Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression- which constitute the citizen of India. When the channels were blacked out by the Broadcasting Ministry during the rescue mission in Mumbai in 2007, media lashed against it claiming that it is the violation against their rights.

In India, in particular, a rational and responsible outlook from media is vital as Indian being a secular country holding different religion, culture and language. Even a diminutive news could trigger unrest that worsens the socio-political equilibrium. Media being the watch dog, informer and guide of a society, in such an insecure environment, they need to exhibit cooperation, loyalty and authenticity to not only the society, but the internal security of the country.

Almost every major Indian cities have been a major target of terror attacks (both by religious factions and social groups) at different point of time that in turn kept the innumerous media outlets alive with breaking stories. As far as print media is concerned, to some extend has the advantage of time to produce much investigative, and well-verified data, but majority of them relies only on the press briefings and political statements. But this advantage of time is not utilized by the newspaper who (as they cannot break news because of the 24 hour news channel), rely on speculative journalism and language gimmicks that points towards certain religious factions. Whether it is Godhra riot, Mumbai terror attack or Hyderabad twin blast, such a responsible approachable from media is clearly negligible. From the live coverage of rescue operation and army encounter in the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, to the irresponsible and speculative journalism during the Hyderabad bombing, news reporting in India is stagnant position where journalism for them  (from their act of reporting) is nothing more than providing entertaining news stories round the clock.

In this world of civilian insecurity, dealing with such attacks is a responsible job from both the government and the journalist. As far as terrorism is concerned, loss is not restricted to material trouncing, but political, economic and religious insurgencies and upheavals. While the government’s responsibility lies in making the society secure from threat and attacks, it is media’s accountability to report considering the sensitiveness of the issue. It is very vital sometimes to avoid the over-sentimentalizing of the issue with the one like ‘weeping-mother’ stories that can jeopardize the government from taking fair and austere decision. Immediate and short term discussions upon such issues is rather a sheer waste of time and energy, but what needed is an inclusive analysis and elucidation of incident taking in to consideration the possibilities, threats and aftermaths. This is important and necessary as both are inevitable for a democratic society. This consensus was missing in all major terrorist reporting, where both consider each other as rival, not complimenting each other.

 

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Author Profile

Dr. Sony Jalarajan Raj is Graduate Coordinator and Assistant Professor for Communication in the Institute for Communication, Entertainment and Media at St. Thomas University Florida, USA. Dr. Raj is a professional journalist turned academic who has worked in different demanding positions as reporter, special correspondent and producer in several news media channels like BBC, NDTV, Doordarshan, AIR, and Asianet News. Over a decade, Dr Raj has been in academics as a faculty member in Journalism, Mass Communication, and Media Studies at Monash University, Australia, Curtin University, Mahatma Gandhi University and University of Kerala.

Dr Raj is in the editorial board of five major international research journals and he edits the Journal of Media Watch. His research interests include communicative rationality, information flow, digital divides, the news media influences on the public sphere and visual media. Dr Raj is recipient of Reuters Fellowship and is a Thomson Foundation (UK) Fellow in Television Studies with the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Scholarship.

Ms. Rohini Sreekumar is pursuing her PhD from the School of Arts & Social Sciences at Monash University. She had her Master’s Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Mahatma Gandhi University, India with a gold medal. Rohini is the recipient of National Merit Scholarship and Junior Research Fellowship from the University Grants Commission of India. Her research interest includes film transnational film reception, diasporic studies and Journalism practice.

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