The national media’s coverage of disasters that have caused great damage to the country has drawn a lot of criticism from the affected people who allege the media only discusses trivial issues and ignores the plight of people on the ground.
During the recent floods in Chennai, the media’s cold shoulder and lackadaisical approach was again in the line of fire. For days, Chennai didn’t make it to the front-pages of the national dailies or a television channel’s prime-time despite being the fourth largest city in the country; for days it drowned and no one paid attention.
So when India Today’s consulting editor and renowned journalist Rajdeep Sardesai finally left his studio and went on ground to report on Chennai, the resentment of people against the media was visible.
He received some hard reactions from the people. A lady told the anchor that media was covering intolerance debate and Paris attacks but nobody was talking about Chennai even when the rains had started in November.
But it was his interaction with Radio Jockey Balaji, who has been using FM to coordinate rescue and relief effort during the deluge, that might have ruffled some feathers in the news industry.
When Rajdeep, unsure about how RJ Balaji looks like, looks around to confirm his identity, the RJ drags mic towards him and says: “First thing I want to say is this is the problem. Like most of you don’t know who’s Balaji, what is Chennai. You don’t how Chennai looks or how Tamil Nadu looks?
Rajdeep concedes that.
After a usual dose of resilience and activeness showered on the people of Chennai by Rajdeep, he asked Balaji if “it required a tragedy and flood waters like this for Chennai to wake up in a sense?”
To which Balaji replies: “Even for you guys [media] to wake up.”
This time again, Rajdeep responded with: “I agree and I have conceded it.”
Watch the video of full conversation here: