What’s in a name? A life

29 June 2012 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


No excuses, no nitpicking. The entire media got the ‘Sarabjit to be released’ story wrong — including The Hindu, in its early editions before we stopped press at midnight to make the correction. If anything, the Sarabjit/Surjeet Singh mix-up has held a mirror to the beast that the media has become easily excitable, know-it-all and supremely confident to the extent of being stone deaf even when Pakistan’s Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar was clearly saying on Indian television channels — and by extension to the tuned-in print media — that “Surjeet Singh” was entitled to be released. The media stands exposed but still does not have the grace to admit it was wrong, let alone introspect or apologise for giving false hope to the family of a condemned man. Worse, a section of the media has topped it all up with theories galore on why Islamabad made the “midnight switch”. Ironically, because of the nature of the story and how it unfolded, Sarabjit’s family at least got to air its disappointment. But what of all those mistakes that are being made by the media in the rush to be first with the news? The insensitive line of questioning to bring out raw emotion on camera, the crowding around rescue operations for a “quote”, or ruining investigations by breezing into crime scenes? In this particular case, there is the fig leaf of an excuse in the two names sounding similar but the media was clearly not listening and kept repeating ‘Sarabjit’ so often that on at least one TV show, Mr. Babar himself got confused and used that name for the man he had referred to only seconds earlier as ‘Surjeet.’
The Hindu

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