A fine satire on Indian News channels

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In today’s Indian Express there is a satirical piece by Saubhik Chakrabarti which is so good, I couldnt resist recommending it to all who might watch Indian news channels. Please do not sue me over cop right, Mr. Saubhik Chakrabarti, for reproducing in toto your excellent satirical piece.

from Indian Express

Yamuna rising in TV studios

ONE of the things about government, it has no sense of fun. No sense at all. This evidently applies to sarkari broadcasters, too. Thus it was that on Thursday evening, a Doordarshan reporter sounded disap ointingly sober while talking to the anchor. The reporter asically said that a rising Yamuna is pretty unlikely to make Delhi look like the sets of Waterworld; private broad asters, the DD journalists concluded, were perhaps over stimating things a bit.

Guys, guys, what about your TRPs, huh? Where’s the un, DD? Yeah, you were right –Delhi will cope with a risng Yamuna just as Mumbai coped with Cyclone Phyan.
But that’s totally not the point -if you want to compete in he news TV market. For that you need this: On Times Now the anchor says the capital is bracing itself for a cata trophy (sic) of sorts. `Catastrophe’ is the word, really. But ook at me, quibbling while I may get washed away.

Times Now says, disapprovingly, the Delhi CM put up a rave front and she called the situation “serious”. What hould the CM have done? She should have looked terriied in front of news cameras and sobbed, my city is facing a atastrophy of sorts. Then, the journalism of sorts that news TV gives us could have really had a go. Still, Times Now idn’t give up. After the catastrophy bit, there was dramatic music -think background score of ’70s Bollywood film as ustful villain approaches unsuspecting, pure heroine–and hen, `Delhi braces for floods’. The anchor said Yamuna water has crossed the 206-metre mark. The reporter said he latest update from Delhi government is that the level is 05.49 metres. Who do I believe? The anchor, of course.
Water levels, temperature levels, political corruption levels, retty much any level, are always higher inside TV studios han outside. That’s why TV studios are such fun places.

That’s why CNN-IBN’s morning news show had `Mon oon Fury’ as its theme, with a photograph of a man and a woman, three-quarters submerged. All sorts of catastrophy n that photo. `Yamuna crosses danger mark’, said the big er on-screen caption, the smaller one, right below, said, River Yamuna flowing at danger mark’. You see the beauty f this, as you brace for the catastrophy? Yamuna is flowing t and over the danger mark at the same time? Take your ick. I think, just as it was in Times Now, Yamuna was flowng higher inside the CNN-IBN studio than outside.

The CNN-IBN reporter said it is very unlikely that Yamuna water will come into residential areas as such. `As uch’? The anchor said that is reassuring, as it comes, at the moment. `As it comes’? This kind of news TV talk, as it omes, is hard to figure out but is quite entertaining, as such.

IBN 7 was clearer: when Yamuna’s water level hits 207 metres, it said, there will be water pretty much everywhere.
This is science, man! 207 metres = Doomed Delhi. So exact.

o confident. Science masquerading as journalism.

I checked out Headlines Today. Headlines Today said Delhi braces for Friday flood fury’. `Fury’? Yes, because it lliterates with `Friday’ and `flood’. That’s crucial when ews TV writes headlines not just for today, but any day.

ome headline suggestions for Headlines Today for other urrent stories: `Ohio & Obama outsourcing outrage’; Dreading Delhi’s Dengue Danger’; `Punished Pak players acked-off’. Hey, this is great fun. But let’s remember the ituation is serious–oh dear, no, no, that makes me sound ike Sheila Dikshit.

The situation is a catastrophy of sorts because Headlines oday said these swirling waters are on their way to Delhi nd could wreak havoc. I had a vision: those nasty, mean wirling waters from Haryana, stopping at a dhaba for a uick snack “on their way” to Delhi, where we wait, for avoc, fury and catastrophy.

Link to the article in Express.

Author’s address: saubhik.chakrabarti@expressindia.com

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