Manufacturing News

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 PMNov (Activism, Friends, Media, Slice Of Life)

Its a month since i quit The Hindu. When i look back at my days as a journalist, there are so many memories that come to me. Govind Sir, Sudipto, Kamila, Eshwar Raj were my colleagues whom i remember the most when i think of The Hindu.

But that was the center and in the circumference there were many, one of them being Praveen (Name changed) who was a reporter with an local evening newspaper, who in Mangalore was one of my closest friends other than Sudipto, Govind Sir, Shrinidhi, Satya, Naveen, Pushparaj, Sibanthi, Venkatesh and Vinobha, among the journalists.

No journalist in Mangalore, i guess, had their ears planted to the ground the way Praveen did. It took some time for me to know this man and for us to become good friends. But once we became friends we were together most of the times breaking same stories for our newspaper. During these days what fascinated me the most was the way in which Praveen would manufacture news, during certain occasions. Manufacturing consent, to speak in Chomskian terms, is different. Here was a man who could manufacture news. Here i quote a couple of examples:

1- Praveen called me up and said, “The students of St. Anns college are protesting against the management. I am on my way to the spot. Come.” I started off and when i reached the college i saw the entire college standing in the college ground and crying slogans, holding placards and crying for “justice.” I thought the matter must be serious. As i was thinking about it i was looking for Praveen, who was near the college gate laughing. I went to him and asked what the matter was with the students. “I don’t know exactly. I was waiting for you to come,” he said and continued to laugh, which i was unable to decipher and so i asked him why he was laughing.

“When i arrived these students were sitting n a corner of the ground. They had boycotted the class but were not so violent,” he said and continued to say that looking at the “dry” protest he went and asked the students if they were protesting. The students in return asked him who he was and he took the name of his newspaper and said that he was a journalist.The students now got excited and asked him if he would write about the “torture” they are facing for which they boycotted the class. To this Praveen said, “If you are so silent i can’t write as there is nothing to write. You must cry slogans and shout loudly saying you need justice. Only then there is some news element to it.” And that was it!!! The students immediately went to the nearby stationary shop got some huge sheets of thick paper turned them into placards and started shouting slogans. By the time this happened some other journalists and i reached the spot. The students went so violent that even the police, who arrived to the spot, were unsuccessful in taming the students. Finally the students also made the principal to apologies to them, before the media. That evening Praveen had this story as the lead story in his paper.

2- It was a meeting at Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industries regarding the rail roko that was to be held in in a weeks time. The meeting was opened by the president of KCCI reading out a letter written by the MP to KCCI asking them to withdraw their decision of rail roko in association with various other organizations in Mangalore. The president of KCCI was speaking in English which Praveen did not understand. Immediately i see Praveen messaging just one word “Kannada” to Annayya Kulaal of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike. Within no time Mr. Kulaal got up and asked the KCCI president to speak in Kannada and requested everyone in the hall to do the same. Making this announcement Mr. Kulaal looked at the press people who were, like always, sitting separately. With a smile on his face, which reelected that he was sure of being noted by the press, Mr. Kulaal sat down.

The entire meeting later took place in Kannada and as it moved further there was a split. Some organizations, realizing the benefits of listening to the MP decided to drop the plan of rail roko and started convincing the other organizations who stood their ground. Some did bend some did not. At one point the “capitalist” organizations started picking up organizations individually and started convincing them. The possible “revolution” was becoming impossible. Realising this Praveen messaged Hanumanth Kamath, president of an organization for civil rights. “Don’t bend” read the message. In two minutes we see Mr. Kamath getting up and announcing “If you all are not for rail roko, then i am not with you.” Saying so Mr. Kamath walked out from the meeting. This walk-out by Mr. Kamath was lead for every newspaper in the town, for the next day. The news was manufactured by Praveen.

In both the cases i have referred to, Praveen believed that what he suggested was necessary to create ripples. Or else the “boycotting” and “meeting” would fetch no results. Speaking from a journalistic ethics point of view, what Praveen did can be debated. But knowing Praveen closely i must say that the man has his heart in the right place

A friend of mine recently said: “One can break rules but one cant break principles.”

31 August 2009

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