Sunday, August 03, 2008

Is this our news sense?

I wish to draw your attention to this picture to our left from the world's largest read English daily. (Yes, that is the Times of India, if you didn't know that already).

Something wrong about it? Look at the news item that got pushed down. That is not a day old as I type up this post. 146 human beings with 30 children dead; rather killed by a rumor of a landslide. TOI's editors found it convenient to push it down all the way to the second India item - with a cash sting item preceding it. Of course, this was not terrorism. Neither was it a star couple's marriage. The tragedy was that I didn't find it surprising that this item was pushed all the way down. It seems to me that we have lost even the feeling of wounded surprise as this kind of reporting has become so routine and predictable in India.

146 souls - dead; not naturally; but at a holy place. Is this somehow unimportant in the larger scale of things?

We probably deserve the news we see. After all, the media is pandering to our attention, right? Aarushi and other sensational stuff somehow hogs the limelight, but such items (as about this stampede) of immense magnitude, causing irreparable loss to the families of the living, get overlooked. What if the same people had died in say, an aircrash or a train wreck? (Of course, on Friday more than 30 people got charred in a train and we've already forgotten about it).

Have we become so desensitized to the whole thing that death, if not of a person close to us, is meaningless? Don't these souls deserve at least our moment of concern while reading the news? I feel horrible at this blatant indifference.

Anyway, it looks like our selfish gene is at work while picking up news worthy items too (as in other spheres of human activity as well). Because, terrorism for instance, affects the living people of India "more" than a stampede in a tiny corner of the country. "More" because people want to continue living; because for most people, nothing is higher than the preservation of one's own life.