Published in Hindustan Times LIVE, Chandigarh on 1 feb, 2010
The frenzied manner in which television channels rush to beat the competition nowadays is a hilarious experience for some and a nerve wracking one for others. Insiders insist that poor TV reporters are given a royal firing when they miss an incident that is perceived to be of the Breaking News variety; especially when rival channels have got wind of the happening in question, and have covered it live or otherwise.
This breaking-news-syndrome has, of late, afflicted even the seemingly more professional news channels on view. TV editors are extremely demanding people, by all accounts. They are said to desire nothing but scandal, gossip or sensation. In other words they need ‘clutter breakers’ day in and day out. Resultantly, many reporters in the field apparently suffer nightmares about missing an occurrence of ‘significance’.
The most successful, most dynamic TV reporter is evidently the sort who makes sure that he or she is on the spot and on the ball whenever something is about to ‘make’ news.
Better still; a reporter who can ‘create’ news is much sought after by such channels. Thus there have been instances of people protesting in a democratic manner, who have been told to deliberately raise a ruckus for the benefit of TV viewers.
Even ‘scandals’ have at times been created and telecast purely for the purpose of enhancing T.R.P. ratings. Old-fashioned sting operations have also retained their ‘byte’, it is learnt.
Such is the potency of this sort of ‘faking news’ that it can break all records when it comes to garnering viewer-interest. Real life incidents may never be able to compete.
What took the cake, however, was an incident wherein a channel announced that a local celebrity would soon be exposed ‘live’ on TV as he was in the habit of visiting his ‘mistress’ every evening and that a trap had been laid for him!
We gathered around the idiot box at the anointed time and waited with bated breath. Sure enough, when the live visuals started, the famous man was seen emerging from his car and walking up to a house. The reporter, who was trying to whisper into his mike (without much success), and who was looking extremely agitated, was seen running after the ‘culprit’ to accost him on camera.
The following events were seen happening thereupon- the reporter collided with the target in his excitement, a comely lady ran out of the house and bolted quickly back inside, the reporter and the celebrity then grappled on the floor, the former finally managed to get a ‘bite’ in his ear, and the latter was seen running helter-skelter into the wilderness beyond!
The extent of our mirth at the scene can only be imagined, and also the resultant jump in the TRP ratings of the channel, even if inadvertent!