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When words that convey extreme contempt are used, they ought to be used with responsibility, if at all they must be used. For, is not telling people what to think an insult to their ability to reach conclusions?

This post is about an article by Sujata Anandan where she essentially calls Anna Hazare a Tin-pot dictator and condemns his dictatorial policies. I would like to address several things in her article.

Flogging of alcoholics

As the wife of an alcoholic and an occasional drinker myself, I see drinking alcohol and alcoholism as two different things with little in common other than the consumption of alcoholic beverages. For example, a regular drinker could comfortably visit Ralegan Siddhi to cover this epic news and have a drink later after returning home. An alcoholic would travel to the nearest town to find a bar, try to wriggle out of the assignment altogether, sneak in his bottle or finish it fast and return to an environment where alcohol is possible.

You cannot reason with an alcoholic. I mean, you can, but it becomes irrelevant when it is time to drink. It is also not only about the mind. The body forms a dependency and doesn't function properly without alcohol - this is how "medical licences" for alcohol happen.

It takes what many recovered alcoholics call "hitting rock bottom" or overwhelming and undeniable bad consequences for an alcoholic to undertake the overwhelming effort to fight his/her own body and mind to quit. Most alcoholics go to their graves without ever attempting this fight. Others try, lose momentum and lapse.

In other news, while drinking alcohol may be a personal choice, alcoholism is a social, economic and security menace. Alcoholism is almost always associated with domestic abuse - not even because the person is evil, but he is simply too drunk to care that others hurt because of him, and he always wants things his way, because he is too drunk to deal with  anything. They destroy domestic relationships, make enemies out of friends, deprive dependents - particularly children or resources that should rightfully be theirs for nurture.

Alcoholics will buy alcohol no matter what. It isn't a multiple choice question, unless you are talking which brand. They will switch to cheaper brands, dubious quality, spend their last dime, borrow, steal, prostitute themselves or their wives, whatever it takes to get their quota. It is a compulsion. Alcoholism itself is a dictatorship.

Drunk drivers on the streets are a risk to more lives than their own.

I don't see alcoholism as a personal choice, if it damages other people. It is far worse than say exposing people to passive smoke.

While I don't agree with the method of flogging, as someone who has read extensively on alcoholism, I can see how a rural environment lacks absolutely any leverage that is "legal" to prevent this damage to families. For a population of alcoholics amounting in the millions, we barely have enough affordable support for de-addiction in cities. Leave alone villages. Obviously, there is a point where you either bend rules, or watch many people suffer the consequences of one person's alcoholism. Would I have done it the same way? I don't know.

But this is far from a dictatorship. In focusing that Anna "sometimes" flogs alcoholics, it is easy to overlook who is doing it other times. Sure, it is human rights abuse according to fancy, imported ethics. So where are the facilities that an alcoholic can be arrested and rehabilitated if found in a village where alcohol is banned? Is it more "human rights" friendly to get an alcoholic arrested, likely beaten by the cops instead, accommodated in some prison while the country's over burdened system waits for his case comes to court? Or should this glorious Sharad Pawar experiment be ignored - I thought she liked it, but it shouldn't be enforced?

Power to women to close down liquor shops

A little more research would have told this writer that this isn't an experiment by Sharad Pawar, it was an ammendment to the Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 - her tin-pot dictator Anna Hazare is the one to demand it. Ralegaon Siddhi was the model on which the conditions were developed for banning liquor based on a vote by the women of a village - very dictatorial, huh? Nice style, calling him a tin-pot dictator, and attributing the result of his appeal as an experiment by someone else. It is obviously an article written by a gushing fan, but the facts stand there. Also the RTI, etc.

Banning alcohol and cigarettes

I smoke and drink, but as a citizen of a democracy, I also recognize the right of that village and its elected body for self-determination. With the number of people who smoke and drink, I don't think it is something that can be imposed by some freak dictator on the majority.

Which brings me to - this is the second mention of youth running away from Ralegan Siddhi rather than bear "dikkats". I only want to point out that with all the publicity the village got, as well as the massive mud slinging efforts mobilized, it should have been relatively simple to interview a few of those youth about the tortures they escaped. Surprisingly, months along, I'm still searching news for this epic article that would kill all support for Anna among youth, etc.

That said, I was a staunch supporter of the IAC movement, but I see it drifting away from the things about it I supported. However, this doesn't mean that our national sport of mud slinging is a good idea, and this is one big reason media today cannot be trusted for information in order to form your opinion. You are fed conclusions.

Thus, when an editor chose to do this, I thought why not debunk it, for no reason other than I value the freedom of thought and oppose vilifying anyone?

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When Prashant Bhushan and Arundhati Roy were attacked by affiliates of BJP, there was news media in place and ready seemingly with prior information.

Prashant Bhushan was beaten in his Chambers yesterday in full view of TV Cameras. The attacker slapped and manhandled him before others in the room subdued him. The audacious attack shocked people awake even as claims of culpability by Tajinder Bagga of Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena trended on Facebook. First things first, here is the attack itself.

Almost immediately after the incident, questions started coming up asking why the crew did not help him instead of continuing filming. Then, more knowledgable people started questioning why the cameraman didn't panic at all with the attack. Remember how our media normally acts in crisis...

Today, The Hoot came up with an article that speculates that the media may have been aware of the upcoming attack. The article brings up several vital coincidences. To quote directly:

Its Editor, Arnab Goswami, is always polarising people and taking open editorial positions against human rights activists and authors like Arundhuti Roy. In fact there are lots of unanswered questions about the how-come and whys of the presence of Times Now crew in Prashant Bhushan's room when the attackers entered and started beating up the Supreme Court lawyer.
Had the Times Now team been forewarned by the Ram Sene group and had they quickly taken an appointment with Mr Prashanth Bhushan in order to ensure they were present ? Ram Sene and organisations like that are known to pre-warn the media (particularly TV channels) so they get all the coverage when they attack.

The article speaks of Arnab Goswami attacking activists verbally on his show. I remember watching his interview of Arvind Kejriwal and Shanti Bhushan during the Jan Lokpal movement where I actually ran word counts on the transcript and Arnab had spoken over 200 words more than both his guests put together. The intervew barely listened to anything they had to say.

Is it a coincidence that Prashant Bhushan is a member of the same team as these two - people Arnab has already attacked verbally in the name of interviewing, and a Times Now interview is happening while he is attacked? I don't know, but definitely needs to be investigated, in my opinion, if the crew was tipped about a possible attack and landed up to film it.

This reminded me of another incident which conveniently took place in the eye of the media. It was when Arundhati Roy's home was attacked by the Women Wing Mahila Morcha of the BJP on 31st October 2010.

In that article she describes OB vans from three Channels present before the attack in position to be able to cover the event live. Times Now was among the channels along with NDTV and News 24.

She also mentions an earlier attack in June by two men on motorcycles after a false report in PTI which was also accompanied by cameramen (coincidence? I doubt). The channel of this cameraman is unknown. I was not able to find the clip. If someone has access to it, please do share link.

The Hoot article lays it out:

Any veteran television person will tell you that the cameraman was prepared and not surprised one bit by the attack ! The fact that the Times Now managed to get a news coup by not only showing this footage exclusively, but later allowing all channels to use it  with a Times Now logo suggests that there was more to it then meets the eye.

This, to my mind brings up the question of where the lines blur between reporting and criminal culpability. It is something our media needs to think about. Already, our media has a reputation for covering only commercially viable news. At no time was this in starker contrast than the pathetic coverage of the floods in Assam, the isolation of Manipur, the Sikkim earthquake and the Orissa floods - all these incidents are from this year - from within the last few months and most Indians are barely aware of the dire straits of these places.

I have remarked in another article the need for these calamities to be covered adequately because lack of awareness results in lack of aid for those who need it desperately. It was the ultimate in irony that a prominent news channel was soliciting photos of floods in some areas of Delhi by its readers, when over 2 million people had been displaced and thousands of villages submerged in Orissa.

The Hoot article is a must read because of the many examples it brings up and the worrying pattern it points out with regards to ethics in coverage. One sentence that stays in my mind is:

Rogue media cannot be allowed to go unchecked as it tarnishes everyone in the business.

And I wonder if it is already too late to trust media to self monitor.

Update: Much after this post was published, an attack on a Mangalore Homestay by thugs from the Hindu Jagran Vedike led by Subhash Padil also took local media along, though in that case the journalist alerted the police and later provided statement about happenings in the assault.

Tajinder Bagga of the Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena has officially joined the BJP and is currently known to be spreading disinformtation against the AAP in Varanasi and Delhi to support Modi's win in the Lok Sabha Elections.

Hindu Jagran Vedike was disowned by the BJP, but the head of the Woman's Commission for Karnataka, Manjula C of the BJP Mahila Morcha blamed the teenage victims for the brutal assault on them, as various other Sangh members defended the assault. HJV is known to be a sort of youth wing of the RSS and had represented them in kabaddi tournaments a couple of months before the attack, even as their leaders were denying any association.

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We see crisis situations happen all the time. Be they natural or man made. Media plays an important role in dispersing situation about them. However, I find that there is crucial lack of coverage in natural disasters that is counterproductive to the recovery of the region.

If there is a bomb blast, for example. Along with news about causes and the actual incident, we have reports of the dead and injured. We have journalists who will go to hospitals and see how the injured are being treated and so on. It is relatively easy in cities, because cities have a lot of journalists and the victims can be easily accessed.

I have seen many times on Twitter. News of the injured is often followed by inquiry into their well being. Philanthropic citizens and helping organizations follow up on this information. I have seen people make tweets asking how to contact the victims to sponsor their children's education, for example.

If even a fraction of those expressing intent to provide aid actually act on it, that is powerful help above and beyond what relief the government provides.

Contrast this with natural disasters. They strike where they will. Not necessarily within easy reach of the media, likely not easily accessible, particularly for calamities like the ones currently facing us - vast flooding, massive earthquake. However, at this time, I think the media needs to consciously set up information bridges. The more the needs of the people are visible, the more people hearing them will be alterted to the need and inclined to rise to the occasion.

When those devastated are in the thousands, no matter how good a government is (and I am not saying that ours is that exceptional) it is still impossible to bring life to a comfortable status for all. It is impossible to compensate for massive personal losses. The best that can be done is token amounts and ensuring shelter and medical aid for all. Possibly some basic housing to be built.

Compare this with enormous numbers of citizens living in plenty, having more things than they need, having the affordability and inclination to help. Thousands of people is miniscule compared with the number of people living in conditions of being able to aid. Really miniscule. Even if a very, very small number of these are able to help.... it is a large quantity. And it will supplement the aid provided by the government.

The other thing is that international media picks up from local media. If our coverage of devastated people needing help is low, we literally keep it out of the world's attention too. Maybe a couple of large media outlets with presence in India will send over a guy or so to report and come up with an outstanding article, but there can't be the attention to detail and necessity that is required.

International aid organizations don't register the urgency of the need as strongly... it is a domino effect that didn't happen, in a way.

There are some things media could easily do:

  • Provide clear information of the damage in every calamity - we hardly know anything about the floods in Orissa, for example.
  • Provide information on rescue and relief work in perspective of the disaster. More important than repetitive shots of one rescue or details of operations, it is important to show how efficient they are in meeting the need of the situation. How much is done, how much remains, any obstacles, etc.
  • Instead of asking people what they suffered in the media interviews, ask clearly what their situation is, and what help is urgently needed. If there are items in short supply, state them clearly, so that people with ability to provide can pick up the challenge.
  • Interview relief workers and ask them what they are doing, and how can people help them. Clear contact information, information for donating, information of where to send material supplies donated, information on how to volunteer to make the work lighter.
  • In remote regions where it is difficult to get reporters on the ground, it might be useful to request citizens with reasonable language skills to act like citizen journalists and get the information out. Hiring local bloggers may be an option if the region is not too backward. If people are assured that you are listening, they will be glad to go out and collect information for you. Someone will.

This  is important. If you notice any great calamities, the aid they get is directly proportional to how much the media pays attention to them. Easy recent comparisons would be Haiti and Pakistan.

It is an easy contribution all you media people can make for your fellow countrymen. And it will only bring you higher TRPs because people WANT to know this kind of information.

I don't presume to tell you your job, but I can tell you that I rarely watch TV, but I would watch your channel if you could tell me crucial things about our people in Orissa and Sikkim.

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Questioning our knee jerk response to emergency situations, its impact and exploring more functional alternatives.

As I watch the news of the Delhi blasts unfold on TV and Twitter, it strikes me how dysfunctional our response to a crisis is. While the government is obsessed with policing the internet and social media for spreading misinformation, on Twitter I saw little evidence of it. And trust me, if it is spreading currently, it is on Twitter. On the other hand, the news channels seem to be more about earning off the incident than reporting it.

Live coverage. Endless live coverage saying over and over and over the same thing - blast at gate 5 of Delhi High Court at entry of high security area, people injured, no information on blast.

For a long time after the blast, this was all the news people had. And the channels were repeating it over and over constantly. News cameras showing people crowded. Watching. And the evergreen speculation. Star news also showed some injured people, etc initially.

What is the impact of this?

What does it do to the country to see blood and gore and constant repetition of scarce facts? It sounds like no one is releasing information. So the comments start. The government has goofed up again, careless, no security, no punishment, improper investigations, etc etc. It is the same pattern. Shock, eager broadcast and magnification and consumption of shock, find target to blame. Vent, move on. As a side dish, blame LeT or IM, etc. Speculate about intensity, explosives,  vehicle, etc. Point out patterns of failure.

This helps no one. It can do harm to people who may have loved ones working in the area to get such a shock sensationalized to the max. It creates a spectacle out of suffering, creates a crowd around the site and a ripe target for any secondary attach that could be planned.

No matter what the blast is, this is our pattern. Could we have more functional patterns? Some things that come to mind.

  1. Emergency Services should liaise one contact for confirmed news with media. Media must understand that a lack of news is not news, it is important things being done in order to get more news.
  2. Ideally, unless there is a steady flow of news, there shouldn't be non-stop coverage of repetitive scanty information and human suffering.
  3. Journalists should be trained to do background work off camera. There really is no need for us to see the cameraman panning around like a bewildered victim. This isn't a Hindi film. If there is nothing to show, no need to wave the camera around and pretend it is a shot because there is a crowd in the frame.
  4. Journalists should be trained to confirm information carefully and not interview spectators for speculation or opinions. Facts should be verified off camera before broadcast. Treating a shocked by standers reaction as though it is somehow an authoritative voice on the matter is misleading and unnecessary. The story is the blast, not what people think about it.
  5. References and data about other attacks or crisises should be verified and used carefully. The guy on AajTak was talking about a blast in Mumbai 3 months and 13 days before. The mathematics of time is right, but excuse me, there were three blasts.
  6. Media should focus more on guiding people than they currently do. "Injured have been taken to hospital" is not as useful as Injured have been taken to ABC and XYZ hospitals. It takes a minute to find out. It matters.
  7. People should be dispersed as soon as possible to minimize risk rather than only sounding alerts and managing crowds. Those actively not assisting rescue or seeking missing people should be encouraged to leave and follow news through the media.
  8. Evacuated people and crowds and media should be taken to a spot at some distance and out of the way of vehicles and rescue workers.
  9. We need a SOP for emergencies. For example:
    • Immediate assistance from crowd to injured, evacuation of dead.
    • Information on where injured/dead are being taken
    • Minimal disturbance of scene except for injured/dead or preventing damage from spreading.
    • Police and rescue workers should collect local information and verify before publishing.
    • Media should focus on factual information on incident and guiding viewers with reference to it - including hospitals, names of victims, blood banks, any medical needs, suggestions to citizens to facilitate emergency response like avoiding traffic area, instructions for further safety/alert like avoiding crowded area or reminders to be alert for orphan objects, information on any suspects, confirmed details of incident.
    • Spread useful information on social networks.
    • Volunteer and use volunteers to connect missing people with searching people or needs with offers of help. Social media can be very useful like that.
    • Consciously avoid an immediate flurry of interviews and demands for statements. Those are reactions. Not news. They can and should wait rather than jumping at the beck and call of terrorists.
  10. What to avoid?
    • Speculation on culprits. No matter who the hotshot is saying that it looks like the signature of someone or the other, it is an educated guess at best and shot in the dark more likely.
    • Repetitive accounts of panic.
    • Shots of injured
    • Increases in numbers of dead/injured from unverified sources.
    • Blame games.
    • Idealistic and inflammatory, but inherently stupid criticism like "why wasn't the gate inside the high security?" - D'uh. If the gate was inside the high security, the bomb would have exploded outside whatever the entry point for high security was, where people crowded to clear security. No one can guess where an attack will happen, and it is very naive to say "high security protect everything all the time - this is the capital"
    • Avoid clogging telephone networks. Switch to Twitter and Facebook as far as possible.
    • Don't try to immediately check on absolutely everyone you know. There is help at the accident site for all victims. Check on your loved ones as briefly as possible and free telephone lines.
    • Use social media, SMSes and phone calls as last option. Think of keeping phones free for emergency calls as similar to keeping roads free for emergency response.

Overall, I think that our response to things like blasts needs to become much more low key and very "down to essentials". Terrorism isn't something we can security our way out of. Nothing can be guarded at high alert all the time. Certainly not entire countries, cities or even localities. It would be like living in a prison even if it were possible, which it is not.

However, it is important to understand that terrorism is a mind game. The terrorists don't know the victims at all. They have nothing against them. The attack is on the system. A fight of policing will always be one step behind. Intelligence will be better at preventing, but more difficult to obtain. On the other hand, what we are in control of is how the results play out.

If a terror attack creates terror, it succeeds. Even if it is no more than a bomb scare. We need to consciously deny the result. Dampen the fear without compromising safety. Factual news reporting with a conscious intent to impart information AND prevent panic will go a long way as an anti-terror initiative. Deliberately starving terrorism of the oxygen of attention smothers its impact. People cannot fear what they don't know they could fear.

Unless I see bewildered crowds wandering around lost in front of an iconic institution of the country, all that the blast means is a security problem, no more or less sad than a plane crash. It is the reporting that takes a blast with x number dead and y number injured and turns it into this scary and insecure state of our country, etc etc. In other words, we play the terror game and further the interests of the terrorists. Every time some statement is made with a knee jerk accusation of some LeT or IM or whoever, whether guilty or not, their commander is glad, because their fearsome reputation just got reinforced for free. The next time they send a threat, media will oblige with a list of attacks they were suspected in - the association itself (true or not) lending weight to their words.

How effective would bombs remain as terror attacks if instead of getting live coverage and takes and retakes of shock and horror and disappointment in the country, they got reported as stories of rescue, actions being taken, needs, information, what people should do, etc - in other words, mobilized the country as needed and ignored the criminals about whom not much is known anyway and the personal trauma? What would it be like, if a terrorist sending an email to a news channel got no response other than investigation by anti-terror squad? Or a call got hanged up on or ignored, traced and investigated instead of being reported and analyzed and publicly promoted for free?

Sure, we have a right to information. Sure, we have freedom of media. The question is if panic responses and speculation can count as information or we accept "press releases" from terror groups. Does anyone have the right to use a national medium to spread fear causing unconfirmed misinformation? Or is this about the right of media houses to peddle real suffering as a horror show for fun and profit?

If you guys can suggest what you think would be a good idea for a standard plan of response to security emergencies, I would like to compile it as a resource to offer people more positioned to act on such issues.

4

We say a lot about what the problem is with media, but we rarely look at what media could be. So.... of course, I write 😀

My main point in this is that media reflects reality, but media also influences reality. Media holds a lot of power to influence change. And it is power that is largely squandered in the present time. It could be used more actively.

Films (also Ad Films)

Films have a way of reaching out to the masses and creating memories. A film is a narrative that gets absorbed without resistance, because the conscious mind engages with the story, and the unconscious simply keeps recording. The unconscious never evaluates. Thus, an uninterrupted viewing of a film has the power to convey a lot of things without resistance.

As we struggle with women's rights, caste differences, violence, and so on, what nuance can be added to films to create new "normals" with little resistance? Is there a way to beat our stereotypes? Can we accommodate more diversity? This is a matter for directors. But surely it is not impossible.

Many say that a certain quality of cinema, with emotional power, haunting melodies, and real characters is lost. Others notice that from a time when Muslim women ruled Indian cinema, they are almost extinct. Certainly none of the female mega stars are Muslims anymore. Can these lost representations be revived?

At the same time, there is a side of modern that is barely explored. Intricate cinematography, special effects, story lines beyond romance... why limit ourselves to enhanced jumps, flying villains and morphing? What else can be done?

Gone is the charm of Waheeda's Hyderabadi accent rendered irrelevant with dazzling dances that no one else could do. Or Kishore Kumar's "extraordinarily ordinary" voice. Today, Indian accents are given to comic characters and unimportant extras and heroes are "flawlessly international quality". What is it that we say about India, with these choices? Are we not saying that the ordinary imperfect people around us are laughable and not admirable?

Egos, budgets, reputations... and we have narrowed our scope. As makers, as viewers. We are so unused to going beyond that stereotypical cinematic world, that even off-beat is off-beat within those gilded parameters.

BTW, where are children's films?

For advertising films in particular, there needs to be some looking at the stereotypes being presented. Mother's back aching from work, fair is attractive, etc. I agree that some is unavoidable - fairness cream, for example - you have no choice but to root for the primary quality of your product being advertized. If it can be mellowed so that it isn't a carpet demeaning of the standard color of Indian skin.... that would be nice, but I see your difficulty. There are many other stereotypes that could be challenged to lead change of thought + it will create ads that will be remembered because they caused double takes. How about the father who got the backache from changing the gas cylinder? Or the mother who leaves the sleeping husband and child and sneaks off for a lovely drive in the car you're trying to sell? Or a school teacher who is male?

Television programming

Kids know more about reptile species in the Amazon than the tiger in the Sunderbans. Discovery and NatGeo came to India, and we are learning the India of the West as a part of the world. We have the Mike Pandeys and Bedi brothers and all. We have tremendous media capacity. We are not interested in creating epic wonders, in our thirst for instant coffee. Use foreign programming, dub, sell ads, earn money, lather, rinse, repeat.

The "housewife programming" is another farce. Full of stereotypes and some very, very damaging thoughts modeled. Misogyny is ugly, and many of them are created by women, for women. The "good" woman, usually the bahu takes a surprising lot of shit. Why? Why must she be the victim without complaint? Why must the woman in the most stylish clothes have the worst character? Why must the elder "good" woman be gullible? Why must petty fights be fed into the minds of people day after day?

Why not the life of a nuclear family with both parents freelance professionals? Of people who make mistakes and recover from them creatively, empoweringly? Or a women's crime show having an anchor dressed in anything other than a sari/salwar kameez?

I forget the name of the serial - I saw in glancing, but something about the daughter being attacked by her step sister or her boyfriend choosing to not say anything to the father for fear of hurting him... What? That the "good" daughter keeps quiet about a physical injury so as not to be an inconvenience to her father? And of course, the "man of the house" is invariably a poor, misguided, blind idiot who can (and mostly does) run business empires, but is clueless about what happens in the home he lives in? How about a shot where the husband and wife are speaking with each other in the kitchen and the wife chats at dining table, while the husband expertly puts on some *gasp* coffee as he listens to her? Must a man always be incompetent in his own home?

Where are all the single mothers, gay sons and daughters, office dramas, smart and sassy "good" characters who will nip rubbish outstandingly? Why can't the good character be hep and rebel who sees problems but can't be tactful enough to get results, and gets misunderstood while the pious and tolerant sounding one is actually the venom? Where are the soaps about the working women and husbands who lovingly care for families?

News Channels waste a lot of time. Show packagings run for ten seconds in some cases. Meaningless swirls of graphics wasting my time. There should be at least one programme created for say ten minutes that will cover top 20 issues - fast. Just hitting the main points - watch the lengthy programmes for more info. No micro details, no packaging, no nothing. Just the heads up on the most important things happening.

I want to know where the news for the deaf and dumb is. And why can't I see it.

We have debates on TV, but while they inform about basics, they are largely superficial affairs severely restricted by time available. In the end it becomes the anchor conducting brief parallel interviews rather than true interaction. Most of these debates are on subjects crucial to the country. Also subjects people are interested in. There should be a separate channel with entire days devoted to an important issue, while smaller issues and interesting debates that aren't really issues can fill smaller slots like half a day or four hours, etc.

It will create opportunities to include presentations, further references or evidences etc as a part of the debate, so that people really understand important things happening and their nuances and form informed opinions. Maybe people can message/comment/shortmail/tweet/etc their questions or even add information to the debate.

Like I said there... let's blow this thing wide open - start meaningful national conversations. Information is vital to empowerment.

The potential is vast.

Newspapers and online news

Very important to cover news of the country as a whole. Perhaps there needs to be a job created for a "leak catcher" who can keep an eye out for the kind of news that slips through gaps. Rural areas and smaller towns particularly have a lot of totally invisible suffering no one bothers with till too late. This could be more sensitive, professional, caring.

There needs to be some serious reviewing and at least editorial understanding of the values the organizations stand for and those values must be meticulously lived up to. It is becoming a culture of lynching and finger pointing and sensationalism. My angry post after Delhi's Besharmi Morcha highlights the differences in the coverage possible. A lot of the social psychological impact of the event was destroyed in how it was reported - reporters were simply unable to think beyond "sex sells".

Let loose in a news scenario, the media seems to gravitate to first masala - be it bare stomachs at the slutwalk, or detailed descriptions and character judgments of people. This seems more common with print/web than TV. There needs to be some consciousness raised and skills built for identifying when this happens, so that it can be corrected gradually into more real reporting - de-addiction from masala thinking and sensitizing on ethics and social responsibility.

Another point seems to be a problem with the country in general, but the reading media is well placed to lead a change - learning to identify and stop using logical fallacies as a part of the reasoning process. Thoughts can be sharply focused on issues and lead to clearer thinking. Straightforward skill building.

Online social media

A lot seems to be happening and most of it is very democratic and life affirming and very good. There is a possibility for us to use the medium more actively to learn interaction. To learn to manage differences and disagreements. But I see that happening too, and where it doesn't, it seems more a choice than any lack.

Important is that the social media resist attempts at censorship, or breaches of privacy, or if under unavoidable pressure (our government can "charm" the socks of any corporate with its "soft" power), then at least this must be transparent, and known to the netizens.

Actually, I had a few more points, but the electricity went off, and I am not able to remember them well right now, so rather than waste your time, I end here. I will add if I remember. Feel free to contribute your ideas in comments.