The journey of News telecast from fifteen minutes to 24 hours has seen a lot of transformation in terms of the content and pattern of news delivery. There was a time when 'News time' was limited to fifteen minutes in a day on the state controlled television broadcaster 'Doordarshan'. With the privatization of television broadcasting, the News channels have turned the 'idiot box' into the form of entertainment that, at times, burst the viewers into peals of laughter. The TRP chasers have designed news rooms into circuses and news anchors have vaguely been converted into chatty clowns tasked out for interminable blabber. From the stiff necked News anchor, delivering News without even a blink, to the marching newscaster on ramp like floors, to PowerPoint News presentations, to shouting of abuses on panelists in News room discussions, the News presentation and panel discussions have seen a denigrated relegation in terms of the merit they carried.
It was chilly morning, Sir John, Jani, was going to fetch 'morning bread' from the nearby baker. His eyes suddenly caught sight of a dog with spiked out legs ready to jump, waging his tail, mouth wide open with long flagellated tongue dripping droplets of saliva out of hunger. Jani stopped for a while and with small steps swayed carefully himself to the edge of the street and tiptoed cautiously trying not to disturb the monster. The dog observing Jani's trembling steps and his sneaking glances through the eye corners, shouted out a soft bark initially. Petrified Jani pulled his Pheran on the shoulder, hurled his firepot (kangri) on the dog and ran like a mad horse. The dog chased him, roaring insistently. It was the matter of life and death. Jani dashed across the walls, trees, electric poles and everything coming on his way. He jumped over the barbed wire of his neighbors compound, running relentlessly without looking back at the trailing dog. Jani just turned his neck to look behind when suddenly he knocked into the old muddy well. After half an hour of shouting, Jani succeeded in gathering people to rescue him. Before anybody could drop a rope to pull Jani out, he saw a mike and camera dropping into the well and somebody asking, Jani how are you feeling there? Does it smell bad in there? Was it the dog who was after you or you were hunting him?
Dripping muddy water all through his face over the body, Jani was pulled out with great efforts. He found himself swarmed with cameras and sleekly dressed trendy boys and girls with mikes in their hands. For the mud over his face Jani was lucky not to show his abashed red cheeks to these smart girls. Jani was looking like a wet crow painted with murky muddy paste. Since Jani was stinking, he could easily push himself through the crowd while people around pinched their nostrils together making way for him.
Actually, there had been a rumor in the night about some unusual movement in the area. The journalistic fraternity, having got the whiff, lined up outside the house of 'Jani' hoping him to throw some light on the issue. Jani, after having taken good hot shower, draped in his favorite dress, curling his moustaches came out to face the media. There was a nonstop volley of questions without seeking a reply in actual sense. Jani, we heard you have tried to chase out thieves in the night who instead let a dog loose on you and you had a fall in the muddy waters. What were the thieves looking like? Did they carry the guns or knives? If with Guns, do you think they have come from the neighboring country? Where do you think they had come from? Do you think they were planning to rob the area or fire in the air to scare the residents?
In the evening, Jani received a call from one of the leading News channels with an invitation to speak in an all important discussion at 9 p.m. With the self satisfying smirk Jani braced himself for the show. He invited all his neighbors and friends to watch him live on television. He was fitted with mike on the collar, placed straight on a steady background showing 'book racks'. And the Anchor started. Hello and welcome to 'News Nine Special'. Welcome to the show. Mr. Jani tonight the nation is watching you and I am sure you will answer my questions straight. You have to tell the nation tonight what exactly you were doing in the well. Mr. Jani nation wants to see the face you were hiding behind your dark muddy mask. Jani tried to reply. I wazzz… You can't hide yourself anymore. Why don't you accept you have nothing to say. Why don't you confess before the nation tonight and accept your guilt. You have jumped over the barbed wire of your neighbor and I have the proof tonight that you have learnt the art of jumping over the barbed wires on the border. You tell us tonight as to how many times have you crossed the international border over the barbed wires and tell us who are the people who have taught you this art across the border. Jani, trying to reply.. Sirrrr, should I say something… and the volume was decreased. Jani could be seen moving his lips and the anchor continued with his 'Jani bashing'.
(The writer is a post-graduate in Management Studies from the University of Kashmir)