A paper on the performance of foreign media during Nepal Quake

Abstract:

In spite of huge coverage of the post earthquake scenario of Nepal, many Indian Television channels were criticized by large media literate audiences. Their contents were mainly related with overwhelming their government aid by making it sensationalize and they were also dramatizing the grief of the victims as they were making the disaster coverage, the spicy story. Moreover, their coverage had been jingoistic and insensitive. These all had provoked Nepalese living worldwide to speak up in their protest. And the social media had played a significant role in breaking the spiral of silence in this regard which had contributed a lot in chasing the Indian media away from Nepal finally. The main reason behind this seemed to be intercultural sensitivity that the Indian media failed to realize or feel and they also became unable to make Nepalese audiences to feel their presence. If they wanted, it was the best time or opportunity for them to show the fraternity and neighborhood between the two countries not only from the government side but also through the fourth estate of the government. Instead of being a public relation tool of the government if they had showed the best performance realizing the power of media and their role in the time of disaster, then it would rock in the international arena of media. It would also have a good image among South Asian countries as well.

Background:

It was Saturday, April 25, 2015. The day was supposed to be as usual. Everyone was in holiday mood and utilizing the time in their own way. But the nature might have been planning another ways of celebrating the holiday. So, it was thinking to add some twist in that day. As a result, it gave tremendous shocks just before the noon at 11:56 AM.

The Conversation (How the media struggled in Nepal’s earthquake rescue?, May 5) says “The media in Nepal has been instrumental in keeping people connected and updated about the recent magnitude 7.8 Gorkha earthquake that hit the country on Saturday April 25. However, initially the quake did not create a major reaction, as small scale tremors are not uncommon in the country. The Nepalese people were also unclear about the extent of the disaster as local media struggled to react to the earthquake. The reality of the scale of the disaster began to sink in when heartbreaking pictures of the damage started emerging. Live footage and pictures from the international media gave some insight into the extent of the devastation in the earthquake ravaged nation. The time taken by the Nepalese media to respond is not surprising because Nepalese media had categorized disasters as current affairs, without a specific accountability for disaster reporting. ”

There was also the heavy flow of international media at the time of this disaster in the influenced areas. Many had come here along with the rescue teams of the regarded country and many renowned international media showed their presence with their popular reporters and journalists. While taking the names of some BBC, CNN, Australia’s ABC, India’s Aaj Tak, Zee TV, India TV were in centre. All of them were in Nepal together to cover the disaster and to inform among the world that ‘the world is with you in this hard time’. This could be the objective of those media who had sent their representatives in Nepal but unfortunately our wish gets just opposite in some cases. The massive coverage of the Nepal earthquake by the international media has been instrumental in generating help and resources. People world-wide have been exposed to the crisis. However, the extent of international interest has its downside, as it creates expectations that may be unrealizable.

Well while talking about this heartbreaking acts and behaviors of the foreign media, Indian media ranks in top position as it had created a kind of national and international discourses. In other words, it can be said that they contributed to make Nepalese hopeless and also compelled to hate the Indian media during those days.

Appearance of Indian TV channels in Nepal Quake:

It is true that within six hours of the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, India sent men and materiel to aid in rescue efforts. By the next day, huge rescue teams had arrived, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an emergency cabinet meeting to plan India’s response. Indian media outlets were bullish about promoting New Delhi’s efforts. Nepali journalists also wrote favorably about India’s decisive response in the beginning and people were also considering their help positively. But just over a week later, the narrative has changed. There are murmurs of discontent in the Nepali media about India’s role in the rescue mission. People are also upset about the conduct of the Indian media in covering the worst natural disaster to ever hit Nepal. As a whole, Nepal is not happy with the way the Indian media conducted itself in the wake of the great earthquake. (Sanjay Kumar, The India Media’s PR Disaster in Nepal)

According to Sanjay Kumar, (The India Media’s PR Disaster in Nepal), “The hash tag #GoHomeIndianMedia began trending on Twitter, with thousands haranguing the Indian media over perceptions that its coverage had been jingoistic and insensitive. Critics back in India are also questioning the coverage, which has centered on New Delhi’s magnanimity toward Nepal in the wake of the disaster.”

In those days, there had been one viral news report going on where a reporter presented how people were fighting for food and one woman got injured badly.  The coverage was done by reporter of News X of India. The reporter was giving more emphasis on the term ‘Khane ke liye ladai’ and blaming the Nepalese government for not managing the food on time on one hand.  And on the other the reporter was saying the camera person to bring the camera near to show the victim hurt badly on her head. But it was a surprise that he even did not have a minute to grab a piece of cloth to stop bleeding. That reporter did not have a minute to grab the wrist of that person who was beating others with helmet. There was of course a cameraman who does not want to miss a second so that dramatic news could be presented. In that context, in spite of satirizing the government or making the live drama of the incident it would be better if he helped the injured woman being human and responsible person. It seemed so insensitive capturing that frame into his camera. Similarly, other Indian channels also framed that moment on their camera and expose Nepal as the country where people fight even for food. In fact, they might have forgotten that that was the moment of devastating disaster and government might had not been able to provide all the needs all over the country in time.

Similarly another evidence, there was another reporter who was so much disturbing the rescue workers on asking about technology. It looks as if the reporter is new to the world of technology. So, he was feeling good in bothering the rescuers in the time of disaster. Likewise another case was the reporter were asking rubbish, insensitive and irrelevant questions like ‘Aapko kesa lagraha hey’ (How are you feeling) to the victims who were rescued after many hours of the Quake.

As already said, the hash tag #GohomeIndianmedia had brought a big splash throughout the social media during that time. It was a great challenge to the spiral of silence theory through the social sites. The editorial of The Kathmandu Post (Taking a hit published on May 5) writes ‘It was used for criticizing Indian media coverage of the earthquake. The anger was primarily an outcome of sensationalized reports by Indian television channels. Many of them also got their facts grossly wrong. A news channel, for instance, reported that all malls in Kathmandu had collapsed, showing a video clip of a building supposedly in Surat, India collapsing.’ Indian audiences were also supporting Nepal’s twitter trending, and in return they also started another new trend with hash tag #DontComeBackIndianMedia. One of the tweets said, “Please don’t send them back to India, send them to Mars.”

It further adds ‘Many Nepalese have noted that the insensitivity of the media had undone the good work of the Indian government in helping earthquake victims in Nepal. Indians soon joined in the conversation, asking Nepalese not to send the media back to India as they were tired of these journalists too. Ranjona Banerji, an Indian journalist based in Dehradun, wrote on Scroll. In, a website, “As soon as the Indian media heard of the earthquake, bad journalism began. It started on Saturday morning with many anchors finding it difficult to fathom that an earthquake cannot be covered like a cricket match or a film release.” Media coverage made it seem as though Indian aid to Nepal was part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promotional campaign.’

Other related evidences:

On April 26, ABP News presented a story with a headline ‘Rakshyak’ which included Modi’s image/photo. The lead was ‘Nepal mein hui tabahike liye ab har taraphese haat uthe hain, lekin sabse pahele haat uthaye hamari paradhanmantri Modi ne’. Their coverage was more based on publicity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government rather than sharing human grief. Likewise, another Indian national television named Aaj Tak said ‘Prime Minister Modi ne diya Nepal ko hausalla’, ‘Malbeme badla mini India’, ‘Bukampake bad mahamari, ‘Rata rat seher se bhagte log’, ‘Nepal per dusari mushibat aanewali hey’ like those type of news were broadcasted.  Similarly, ‘Na maami bachi’,‘na baba bachey masum tanmha rahegaye’ related news was broadcasted by India TV with a fiction story was also broadcasted. It was totally fiction news using one heart touching picture of a child latter on which was claimed by Nother Vietnam taken before eight years. It was proved that that image is not from Nepal. In a way it can be said that they tried to over sensationalize and manipulate the news.

Meanwhile, mentioning Thamel as ‘Mini India’ they made attack on National sovereignty which was the most significant culture of Nepal that was prevented since the expansion of British expansion and till yet on which Nepalese feel proud of.  Not only this, they had also called Thamel as Gaun (village) as if they had forgotten or didn’t have known it is a popular tourist hub of the world till the date. That was so shameful matter for the national level media.

Other international media in Nepal:

Similarly, not only Indian TV channels but also one of the renowned international media broke our heart following the unethical way to cover the issue. It is none other than CNN, world’s one of the top media and the reporter who attempted to break the ethics of journalism was also a popular reporter of CNN, namely Dr. Sanjay Gupta who claimed himself as a neurosurgeon. According to the Guardian (CNN investigates claims Sanjay Gupta misled viewers in Nepal report, published on 8th July), ‘He had taken the video without having the forma permission of the concerned authority in the very sensitive area, i.e. hospital and showed it to the world through TV that the doctor were asking for his help in operation as he was doctor too but the Nepalese doctor head involving in that operation refused his statement and was shocked after watching the coverage in TV because in spite of not giving permission how he captured it.’ This is so unethical practice by the highly reputed and believed international media. Others like BBC, were doing somehow good talking with people and understanding them, making friendly environment.

Importance of Intercultural Sensitivity:

“Intercultural communication is about bringing basic assumptions of our own culture to our awareness and to recognize the basic assumptions of other cultures. This is in order to communicate creatively and more effectively with people from other cultures, to use cultural diversity at work as a source of inspiration and growth, and to achieve cultural synergy Mahadi, Raya Nunez and Popma, Laura (2007:3).

According to Milton Bennett, “In general, the more ethnocentric orientations can be seen as ways of avoiding cultural difference, either by denying its existence, by raising defenses against it, or by minimizing its importance. The more ethno relative worldviews are ways of seeking cultural difference, either by accepting its importance, by adapting perspective to take it into account, or by integrating the whole concept into a definition of identity.” He argues that as people become more and more culturally sensitive, they progress from having an ethnocentric orientation to a more ethno relative worldview. It is equally related in media and for journalist as well.

So, this may be the one of the reason why many of the international media failed to cover the real feelings and pictures of the devastating disaster in their camera. This term is so sensitive part while dealing with the people of other culture, community and nation. And in the time of disaster and emergency, it is very much required to deal with the victim and affected people.

Conclusion:

“We already have enough to deal due to the quakes we don’t need you to terrorize our nation anymore,” This tweet is enough to analyze that how much terrible and horror coverage were broadcasted by the Indian TV channels.

Thus, recent Nepal Quake might be the great lesson to the Indian TV channels regarding other foreign media too. India hopes to become a significant player in the international arena, but its media hasn’t helped. India’s parochialism is its biggest enemy as it vies for greatness. The incident in Nepal is a reminder that it’s really a time to grow up.

The most important thing it has taught the international media that there are many media literate audiences in Nepal. So, they don’t have to ignore in their contents haphazardly assuming that the mass of small country do not care on it. The ethics of journalism should be followed equally worldwide and another important learning the reporters/ journalists of many international including national media should be taught on how to do reporting in disaster. Unless they got prepared and fully ready, they should not be allowed to go in the field. And the media also should not act as a PR tool of the government as there are chances of manipulation. And last but not the least, journalist and media should not ignore intercultural sensitivity at any cost. This is only the way to do international communication.

Similarly, The Kathmandu Post (Taking a hit published on May 6) has provided its editorial with a suggestion that “To remedy this state of affairs, one way could be to train journalists on how to report a disaster, look for and verify facts, talk with a range of survivors and humanize stories—which are, after all, about people. To an extent, they can benefit from training to be mentally prepared to witness devastation and death. Even so, it will be difficult to remain objective and detached amidst unimaginable suffering. But sensitive reporting, with pathos and humanism, will not only save journalists from the wrath of the public in tragic times like these, but also help them document human stories of suffering, resilience, and hope more effectively.”

Media should always keep in mind that “Media is a power, if used carefully. Otherwise it could act like a weapon killing thousands of innocent people.”

References:

Burke, Jason and Gambino Lauren (2015). “CNN investigates claims Sanjay Gupta misled viewers in Nepal report.”The Guardian. Retrieved on July 5, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jul/08/cnn-sanjay-gupta-misled-viewers-nepal

Editorial. “Taking a hit.” Kathmandu Post. Retrieved on July 5, 2015, from http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2015/05/05/editorial/taking-a-hit/275978.html

“How the media struggled in Nepal’s earthquake rescue?” The Conversation. Retrieved on July 5, 2015, from http://theconversation.com/how-the-media-struggled-in-nepals-earthquake-rescue-40970

Kharel, Saroj (2015). “A Letter to Indian Media.” CNN. Retrieved on July 5, 2015, from http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1238314

Kumar, Sanjay (2015). “The India Media’s PR Disaster in Nepal.” The Diplomat. Retrieved on July 5, 2015, from http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/the-india-medias-pr-disaster-in-nepal/

Mahadi, Raya Nunez and Popma, Laura (2007). Intercultural Sensitivity. Uitgeverij Van Gorcum

Pandey,  Avaneesh (2015). #GoHomeIndianMedia: Indian Media Faces Flak For Insensitive Coverage Of Nepal Earthquake. International Business Times. Retrieved on July 5, 2015, fromhttp://www.ibtimes.com/gohomeindianmedia-indian-media-faces-flak-insensitive-coverage-nepal-earthquake-1906699

Red Shoe Movement Blog. “What is cultural sensitivity?” Retrieved on July 5, 2015, from http://redshoemovement.com/what-is-cultural-sensitivity/

The photo showing the two children from Vietnam. The Independent. Retrieved July 3, 2015, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/image-that-symbolised-nepalsdestruction-is-actually-two-vietnamese-children-from-2007-10225112.html

 

 

 

 

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