Wednesday March 21, 2018
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Go Home Indian Media – How we fail people in our never ending quest for TRPs


Powerful earthquake hits Nepal

By Harshmeet Singh

All across the world May 3 is celebrated as the ‘World Press Freedom Day.’ On this day, people pay tribute to the journalists for their courage and commitment towards freedom of speech. But on Sunday, Nepal wasn’t a part of these celebrations. Instead, #GoHomeIndianMedia was the trending hashtag in the country with over 60,000 tweets.

Widely regarded as the ‘fourth pillar’ of the Indian democracy, the Indian media has been slammed for multiple reasons of late. And on all such occasions, Twitterati have been quick to jump on to the media and make their voices heard. Right from the media’s insensitive and sensational coverage of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and Times Now’s #ShamedinSydney campaign aimed at bashing the Indian cricket team to covering the Nepal tragedy as a ‘public relations exercise’ for the Indian Government, the Indian media has done little to enhance its reputation in the past few years.

Nepal has taken to the social media to bash the Indian media for their ‘insensitive and ‘dramatic’ coverage of the natural calamity, which has left over 7,000 dead in the Himalayan nation. Most notable of the criticisms came from one Sunita Shakya, a Nepali origin girl. She published a blog on CNN saying, “Your media and media personnel are acting like they are shooting some kind of family serials.”

Her observation further added, “Thanks to tons of reporters who came to Nepal from those rescue planes of India, you took a seat where a victim could be transported to hospitals/ health camps. Thanks to you all reporters, you took a seat where a bag of food and supplies could be placed to send to those hardly hit places.”

But this was perhaps not the first time that the Indian media has preferred to ask ‘How are you feeling?’ instead of helping a person in need. Questions such as ‘How many people of your family have died in the earthquake?’ were heard by the locals more than once. Some people in Nepal also accused the media of spreading lies and presenting a false picture in front of the world. The locals have accused the Indian media of being excessively self praiseworthy when others were doing just as much to help the needy.

Anything for the TRPs

Corporate takeover of the media has long been happening in India. News which ‘hooks’ the people to their TV screens, irrespective of its authenticity, dominates our news channels. Media’s obsession with presenting the ‘breaking news’ has often forced channels to cross the threshold of fundamentals of journalism.

Last year’s devastating floods in Kashmir saw thousands of people stranded at the rooftops and far off places where no help was available. Instead of carrying the essentials with them or helping the stranded people to reach safe corners, the media preferred pointing their cameras at them and asking them if they think the Government has done enough for them!

The concept of ‘investigative journalism’ has been brutally abused in India. Critical facts have been botched up and presented by the media in a number of high profile cases such as the Arushi Case and the Sunanda Pushkar case. Half-baked and Half-true facts have been put forward by the media in many cases, terming them as ‘Breaking news.’ Even before these matters reached the courts, a number of news channels were running stories such as ‘Why would Shashi Tharoor kill his wife,’ and ‘A dark truth regarding the past of Arushi’s parents.’ Such ‘prime time’ shows were aimed at gaining audience in big number and selling advertisements at a premium price. While the media may argue that they are only presenting an opinion, the fact that such opinions create a certain mood among the public can’t be ignored.

Over the past few years, the Indian media has been increasingly poaching into the turf of judiciary and investigating agencies. An endless search for breaking news has diluted the standards of the Indian media to a great deal and has given rise to multiple errors. In December 2011, Times Now was slapped a 100 crore fine after it had mistakenly shown the photograph of Justice P B Sawant, a former SC judge, in place of an accused in a multi crore Provident Fund case. Such goof-ups are now becoming increasingly common as the media crosses its limits in search of breaking news. In May this year, on the day of the counting of votes of the Lok Sabha elections, many news channels started showing poll results much before the official count even began, just to get the viewers attracted to them and not others!

Not all is lost  

To say that the Indian media is doomed would be going a bit too far. There have been multiple instances in the past when the media has mobilized the public on social issues. The public reactions to the Nirbhaya rape case and Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal agitation were extensively covered by the Indian media, thus shaking the dormant public and pushing them to ask for their rights. Many other such examples can be put forward. But somewhere down the line, the media has tilted the balance towards TRPs and ignored their basic duty of reporting what they see – without any extra added flavors.

In most arguments, the one with the last word has an upper hand. For years, the media sat in a unique position where no one could have argued with its reporting simply because you can’t speak back to the television or the newspaper! But with the advent of social media, the media channels have started to come under fire. They are now being held accountable for their actions. There is now a way to speak back to the television. The Indian media must realize this and mend its ways before people become oblivious to its presence.

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Twitter India steps in to bridge blood donation gap

Twitter said it will also amplify the real-time communication efforts of the handle with verification, promotion on Twitter, and use Twitter Lite to connect the helpline with people across the entire country

Twitter to soon release Snapchat like feature. VOA
Twitter starts the initiative #BloodMatters. VOA
  • Twitter starts a new initiative #BloodMatters
  • This initiative is to create more awareness blood donation and its need in India
  • The step is being applauded and supported by the government as well

Aiming to create more awareness and bridge the demand-supply gap for blood units in India, Twitter India on Tuesday launched a new social initiative called #BloodMatters.

According to a report by the World Health Organisation, only nine million blood units are available annually in India, against a demand of 12 million units. Blood Donors India (@BloodDonorsIN), a voluntary blood donation helpline on Twitter, is the first partner for the Twitter initiative. Through this initiative, Twitter said it seeks to work with more blood donation helplines like @BloodDonorsIN, blood banks, and health institutions across the country to connect and reach a larger audience.

Twitter has launched three types of APIs to facilitate this.
This step will help bridge the blood donation gap in India.

“The platform aims to scale up the volume of blood donation conversation in India, the number of donors, and work with partners that can ensure safe, screened blood can reach those in need in time across India,” Twitter India said in a statement.

With this initiative, people can request for blood donation simply with a tweet to @BloodDonorsIN with their location hashtag, blood type, mobile contact and Twitter handle. People interested to help can follow @BloodDonorsIN and respond or retweet requests for help.

Responding to the initiative in a tweet, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda said: “I am happy to see Twitter take up this cause to strengthen the overall health and well-being of the country with the #BloodMatters initiative. This will play a powerful role in mobilising resources and strengthening the blood donation drive in India.”

blue tick
This will benefit several people and is also supported by the government. Pixabay

With the new initiative, launched ahead of its 12th birth anniversary on Wednesday, Twitter is expanding the reach of the @BloodDonorsIN helpline through Twitter Lite, which provides more data-friendly access to real-time information exchange on blood donations across India.

Twitter will be supporting the implementation of an automated response solution to scale the operations of @BloodDonorsIN, currently run by a group of volunteers.

Twitter said it will also amplify the real-time communication efforts of the handle with verification, promotion on Twitter, and use Twitter Lite to connect the helpline with people across the entire country, from the metros to rural India.

There is a lot of gap between blood demand and supply in India. Pixabay

“Giving back has been a priority for Twitter since its inception and we believe the open exchange of information can be a compelling force for good in the world. #BloodMatters is a step in that direction,” Mahima Kaul, Head Public Policy, Twitter India, said in a statement.

“We are humbled to kickstart the initiative with @BloodDonorsIN, a handle that symbolises our mission of positively impacting the world by harnessing the real-time power of Twitter and hope to make a larger impact by extending its reach through Twitter Lite,” Kaul added. IANS