Letter to the Hoot: By splashing gore on their front pages newspapers have shown a penchant for sensationalizing.
SHEREIN BANSAL feels victimized
Friday, Jul 15 23:12:45, 2011
Since this terror act in Mumbai, everything has plummeted- people’s sense of security and stability, their respect and trust in the government, and oddly, even the newspaper ethics. There’s a growing sense among newspapers that readers are stupid and need gory details. Splashing pictures of mutilated bodies after the blast is dehumanising. What was the thinking behind such gross displays?
At least in the series of attacks in November 2008 they had the decency to keep the visuals factual but non-revolting, but this time all hell seems to have broken loose, not just in the streets of Mumbai, but also in the offices of Hindustan Times, Dainik Bhaskar, Times of India, and even The Hindu - a newspaper so revered and trusted that it was horrifying for loyal readers to see the upper half of the front page screaming in red. To be fair, they did have a warning for the weak-hearted but where had it been placed: at the bottom half of the page, saying that these pictures could be disturbing. The warning was a stroke of genius indeed. The placement relative to the picture was nothing more than a formality. It’s like dangling a piece of meat in front of a vegetarian and saying - Please avert your eyes, this might disturb you.
Just because you have a lot of photos for the occasion, doesn’t mean you use them to scare people into not reading about the event. This time every picture spoke a thousand words about the need of the newspapers to sensationalise every event. Do they think readers are so dumb that they cannot imagine the outcome of a bomb blast? Many of us weren’t able to look at the pictures for more than a few seconds, let alone read the report. It was the day when pictures came in the way of content.
Newspapers need to revise their ‘code of ethics’. What our early morning friends have done is nothing short of terrorizing their unsuspecting readers. We need someone on our side; someone who acts as a practical friend and tells us facts and leaves the visualizing to our imagination. We don’t need terror visiting our homes when we are already so insecure.
July 15, 2011