In two newspapers…

Being more used to writing for the newspapers, it was nice to be featured in two newspapers today; but I have an observation to make about that….

Today’s “Mint” newspaper carried an article by carries an article Kirti Pandey, in the “Life” section, about birdwatching in Bangalore. I have been quoted in the article, as have the two other youngsters who went with me for the associated shoot at Lalbagh.

It’s here

There’s a photograph of the three of us, though it does not show up in the online version.

Also, today’s Economic Times carried an article called “Bird Whisperers”, carries an article Kirti Pandey, about a birdwatching trip that I had organized in Lalbagh a few days ago.

It’s here

(Click on “Live it up” in the list on the left-hand side, and the article will appear.)

The photographs, for which proper credit has been given, were all taken by me during the course of that morning.

But…the thing is…both these articles, are, in a sense, not “real”.

I have neither seen Archana or Kirti face to face: they did not come for the Lalbagh shoot or the birdwatching outing, respectively. Kirti was supposed to come along with us, but was not there. Archana did speak to me at least, but Kirti never did.

For the Mint photoshoot for Lalbagh, instead of having a photographer follow us as we actually birded one morning, was scheduled for late afternoon in Lalbagh, when most of us would not go birding as a primary choice. And, instead of following us around as we looked at birds, and taking shots, the photographer made us pose and in fact prevented any of the three of us from actually looking at any birds (“don’t move your head! it will spoil the shot!) …so we were photographed looking into the empty sky, the bare trees…in fact, everywhere BUT at the birds.

Kirti, not having come along for the Lalbagh birding outing as was planned, did not speak to me. As I had organized the outing as a JLRNTP (Jungle Lodges and Resorts Naturalists’ Training Program) outing, for those who had taken the course, she should have mentioned, if not my name, at least that of S. Karthikeyan, the Chief Naturalist of JLR, who guided us throughout that morning. And there is a clear implication in the article that she was there at Lalbagh!

I suppose this is the way it is with journalism; reporters seem to write without necessarily taking part in the activity/watching the play/attending the concert. I once attended a music concert, and later, read the review. It was quite obvious that the reporter had stayed for only the first half an hour.

This was also forcibly brought home to me when, once, at Ranga Shankara, I did not like a play at all, and decided to walk out. On the stairs, a Ranga Shankara staffer noticed my camera, and said, “Oh, Press-na? Hogi!(go)” The understanding seems to be that journalists will not stay for the entire program.

….But could we not have more honest journalism than this? If the Mint photographer had come with us for a morning’s birding, and got his shots as we went around; if the journalist had come along with us for the outing, and met Karthik and the others instead of speaking only to one person…would the articles not have been truer and better?

A point to ponder…

1 Comment so far

  1. ahumanbean on April 11th, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

    "Real" in today’s journalism is not to be expected. Sad but true. I’ve been interviewed, and have learnt the hard way why it pays to have Your Own Audio.Video Tape Recording, to supplement the interviewers!

    (an aside: read Andrew "The Cult of The Amateur" – food for thought. Most of what you read on wikipedia is not true/accurate! And yet ppl refer to as as the ultimate know-it-all).

    My opnion of Mint is muchly coloured by the ghastly pandering to a fake luxury by Shoba Narayan, and the truely un-cultured presentation of Vir Sanghvi. Nails on a blackboard.

    Vatodo about this?
    a) Speak up

    b) Don’t participate in such photo shoots. I’ve been known to register my protests :)

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