News Scavengers
This article originally appeared in CRI content has now been subsumed in The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of

Some four or five years ago the good people of C*****tore had begun to observe a rather amusing trend on their roads. A number of ‘ambulance’ stations operated by private hospitals had sprouted up every twenty kilometres on the highways approaching the city. As soon as word reached the hospitals about a motor accident ambulances would rush to the spot from multiple operators. At the accident spot a contest would then ensue between the ambulances over the victims. Even as the injured would lie wreathing in pain ambulance drivers would argue as to who gets to transport the ‘patient’ to their respective hospitals.

The ambulance stations originally publicised as a ‘public service’ initiative had become over-eager anticipatory attempts by hospitals to literally grab potential high value clients from off the roads. I now realise these ambulance schemes could have been inspired by our news-media. Victims of violence are good money to both. The excuse of public good could so easily camouflage their base instincts. Both of them could deliver genuinely value adding services but instead chose to stick to scavenging. A flawed parallel maybe but you can’t ignore the similarities of scavenging habits.

Consider the coverage of 10th anniversary of Gujarat riots being aired and published. Every moment of contrived outrage, every drop of tear shed in pretentious emotional break-downs, and every word written in faked earnestness are aimed at the one and only object: competitive news-scavenging by elitist prima-donnas of New Delhi.

Is it the case of any major news-organisation taking part in this combined exercise of lowly opportunism that their coverage is somehow adding value, adding that much needed perspective (as media organisations should) and push towards a genuine reconciliation between communities? Excepting encouraging victims to seek political vengeance instead of justice, excepting providing that much needed oxygen of publicity to patently fraudulent NGO’s and activists, excepting for sustained sly vilification of the political leadership what measurably positive impact can be said to have been produced by our allegedly national media organisations?

Is it for lack of time that news-scavenging habits are employed? Surely, ten years is a lot of time to engage in serious reporting. Is it for lack of resources that news studios have chosen to ignore doing meaningful programmes on finding ways towards reconciliation? Surely, given the horrendous losses that some of these organisations are able to take and considering how much it would cost to do just one or two decent programmes they cannot seek shelter beneath the excuse of resources. How about basic journalistic competence? Is there anyone in the shady world of Delhi media who has suffered from not having had a decent schooling and training in journalism? If they have all had the training and education should they not have done a better job? If they have not had the training or education should they be doing what they have been doing?

It is indeed tempting to label the leading icons of our news-media as inept empty headed beneficiaries of parental influence. But we must remember that in their acts of wilful vilification of the political leadership, and in their willing assistance to a fraudulent NGO-activist cottage industry these eminences have shown great shrewdness, tenacity and nuance. We are therefore left with the original question as to what is it that drives these worthies to stage the theatrics they enact.

It is perhaps possible that irrespective of the subject in question – be it an individual, industry or an organisation the driving forces of behaviour  are either monetary benefits, personal malice or a delusional sense of ‘purpose’. As in the case of the accident-victim scavenging ambulance services the case of news-media scavenging victimhood stories has obvious monetary benefits as such stories are far easier to make and sell. It doesn’t matter if the poor victims are driven to despair already. They can be paraded, motivated towards seeking vengeance and a story is thus made!

Mind you after all the damage news-studios do to communities (and individuals) that have to live together in a post-riot situation it would be the chaps pointing out the ill-effects of studio-activism who would be called out as stone-hearted hatred mongers.

Of personal malice towards the political leadership the less said the better. But why the malice, why one party or one individual when there are so many other? Our news-personalities suffer from the delusion of controlling our national narrative. This makes it easy for some of these narcissists to be offended for the simple crime of not sticking to expected lines in interviews and statements. To the guardians of the Delhi Liberal consensus non-conformance to narrative conventions is a crime in itself. And here we have an individual who neither respects the Delhi consensus nor is the individual bound by those seeking to control the news-narrative. The agony caused to news-folks must be unbearable.

If all these were not enough there is the issue of folks allowing themselves to be deluded into believing that they work for a cause. For all its intellectual glamour the faux idealism that drives our news-folk remains a shockingly hollow establishmentarian elitism. This is best explained here :

“Basically sec-lib establishment is an alien organism within the host body. The establishment predominantly constitutes of the deracinated Indians, intellectually and spiritually Macaulay’s [love] children.

…This threat of being subsumed by something which they consider far inferior to themselves, and the frustration at being unable to convert unwashed heathen masses to their superior and enlightened outlook are what ultimately drives their hostility…”

Finding comfort in the certitude of their (hollow) ideological supremacy news-media are able to manipulate victims, provide publicity to fraudulent activists and generally do everything that a responsible media house shall refrain from doing. Never mind the earnest pursuit of justice to all those affected, never mind the long term rehabilitation of victims, never mind the vitriol and hatred they plant in the minds of young subscribers news-media are bent upon seeking revenge and asserting supremacy. We must stop them.