Modi and the Media
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ensuring that he keeps the media on his side as he tackles the enormous challenge posed by the coronavirus outbreak. In two separate video conferences, he interacted with media representatives from TV and print where he said: “The tireless efforts of the reporters, camerapersons and technicians are a great service to the nation. The media should counter pessimism and panic through positive communication.”
The media representatives included Subhash Chandra of the Essel Group, Rajat Sharma of India TV, Kalli Purie of India Today Group, Smita Prakash of ANI, and Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, among others while the print media included editors and publishers of national and regional media representing 11 languages, and included Hindustan Times boss Shobhana Bhartia, Viveck Goenka of The Indian Express, Ramoji Rao of the Eenadu group, Mammen Mathew from Malayalam Manorama and The Times of India’s executive editor, Jaideep Bose.
The sole message was to convey positive news and counter rumours and fake news regarding the coronavirus. The participants unanimously pledged to support the government in its battle against the virus, heeding Modi’s remark that “COVID-19 is a lifetime challenge and it needs to be tackled through new and innovative solutions”.
Sanitising the News
Dainik Bhaskar, the country’s leading Hindi language daily, is now posting video clips on social media which show newspaper sheets being sprayed with sanitisers before they are distributed. The Chennai-based The Hindu is doing something similar, informing readers that the company has installed compressed sanitiser dispensers that spray a mist on the newspapers when they are coming out of the printing machines.
This is in response to the panic surrounding the coronavirus which has prompted many individuals and housing societies to ban newspaper vendors from entry and distribution.
BCCL, the company that publishes national dailies like The Times of India and The Economic Times, issued a press release which says: “Let’s not go by rumour mills and fear mongers. The newspaper delivered to your home is safe. The newspaper printing, folding and bundling are all done without touch. The bundles are loaded on to fumigated trucks by gloved and face-masked handlers.”
Ads released by the Hindu Group say: “In these trying times… we and others in the newspaper industry are working to bring to the people accurate information that crusades against fake news.”
Hindustan Times Media group also said it is sanitising all its plants regularly and “attempts are being made to avoid manual intervention”. Despite such efforts and an assurance from the World Health Organisation that newspapers carry a very low risk of infection, most subscribers in India have taken panic to a new level by literally forgoing their daily habit.
One of India’s finest news photographers is no more. Bhawan Singh, who earned fame and international recognition for his heart-rending photos of the Nellie massacre, passed away last week. Low-profile and humble, he avoided the limelight but his work lives on as a legacy of a master lensman.
He had retired after a long and illustrious career at India Today magazine where he covered natural and human tragedies and celebrations and celebrities with the same empathy and eye for perfection. One of his most memorable photos is the one he took of gangster Dawood Ibrahim at Sharjah, The image of the don, now among India’s most wanted, talking on the phone and smoking, is still the defining image of Dawood, one that everyone uses but few give credit to Bhawan Singh, a true diamond in the rough.
Lead picture: YouTube