Monday, November 20, 2006

News Television: Too many dumb pilots

I’ve discussed this angst of mine with many senior executives from news television channels in India.
I probably did it for the first time about five years ago, and I’ve kept at it to absolutely no avail.
And by now I think I must be the dumbest of the too many dumb pilots that Richard Bach wrote about in A Gift of Wings.
For the benefit of those who haven’t read the short story or don’t remember it too well, here’s the story in a nutshell:
Pilot lands north-south, sees all other pilots landing south-north, and says to himself, “there are too many dumb pilots.” Moral of the story, protagonist was wrong, the other pilots were right.
And here’s why the time has come to declare myself the enlightened pilot who finds that, in actuality, he’s the master dumbo.
I’m a glutton for news television, and the more I watch it, the more I wonder why.
News television has proven, time and again in the past few years in India, that it is virtually the Fourth Estate by itself. Whether it’s the stings, whether it’s the Mattoo case, whether it’s catching a napping Chief Minister on camera, whether it raises the issue of the correctness of allowing Budhia to run. News television has done it all.
And news products, especially television in this age, have a decided role to play in shaping the future of the country.
And news television works in 22 –25 minute segments.
So we have 22 minutes to solve a problem that grips the nation. A problem like reservation.
So we have 22 minutes to discuss an issue that impacts the future. Like, should we trust China?
So we have 22 minutes to discuss whether India’s youth is beyond redemption.
So we have 22 minutes to debate female infanticide.

So I can make this list longer by another 100 issues in the next 22 minutes.
And I won’t.
Because I’m the dumb pilot.

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