Anant’s blog: One day in a news channel edit meeting

An inside story of how news becomes news

Oct 26, 2010 03:20:00 PM | Article | Anant Rangaswami

Editor-in-Chief: So, what do we have today?

Flunky 1: It’s a very poor day for news. All we have is

a)     Inflation has come down

b)     India is likely to beat Australia in the test match

c)      Today, half-yearly results for Infosys and TCS are due, and both are rumoured to beat street estimates

d)     The rupee has appreciated

e)     The monsoons are above average across the country, no drought expected and no major floods anywhere

f)       The Ministry of Health has announced that India is winning the battle against polio 

Editor-in-Chief: That’s boring. Don’t we have anything exciting? 

Flunky 2: There’s been a 15-year old girl who was molested by a school teacher in a small town in Tamil Nadu 

Editor-in-Chief: Only molested? Not raped?

Flunky 2: No, not raped.

Editor-in-Chief: Was the school teacher a card-carrying member of  any political party?

Flunky 2: No, I’m afraid…

Editor-in-Chief: Were the girl and the teacher from different religions or different castes?

Flunky 2: No, they were both Hindus and both from the same caste…

Editor-in-Chief: Then, where’s the story? Why are we wasting time? Who’s got anything better… 

Flunky 3: This is very small, but…

Editor-in-Chief: Let me decide that! What is it?

Flunky 3: Flights from Bhopal are taking off 3-4 hours late because of bad weather…heavy rain…

Editor-in-Chief: That’s fantastic! Let’s go with that!First, get some vox pops from passengers. Get them to say that there is no water. Get them to say that the bathrooms are filthy, and that there is no water. Find a family, preferably with small kids. Find a kid who is crying. Get them to say that there is no food, and that the authorities are refusing to help with food. Check if there is any place in the airport where it’s leaking. There must be. There always is. Suggest that the construction is slipshod. Find out who won the contract to build the airport. Do they have any Congress connections? BJP connections? Are they Hindu? RSS connections? Can anyone start on that?Find an NRI. There’s always an NRI at an airport. Get him or her to crib about the facilities at the airport. Check if he’s missed his connecting flight. Provoke him to say that he is missing very important meetings.Meanwhile, someone contact the CM. Ask him whether investments in Bhopal airport are not being made just because it is a BJP ruled state.Simultaneously, someone in Delhi track down Praful Patel. Ask him why the investments in Bhopal are not forthcoming. Why is the new airport proposal not cleared? Is it because the Centre does not want progress to come to BJP ruled states?And, for the evening, round up a panel of experts. Get Suhel Seth. Get Medha Patkar. Get Arundhati Roy. Get Ram Guha. Praful Patel. Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Get Gadkari. Get any Congress spokesperson.That’s it. Anyone with anything else?

Flunky 3: But, it’s not such a big issue, it’s just that flights are late because of the rains…. 

Editor-in-Chief: That’s why you haven’t made it yet. You have no perspective. To me, it’s close to the end of the world.And that’s how we’ll play it out.  

And if you think this over the top, watch the news every day, on all the English news channels as I do. There’s no other logic to how headline news and breaking news becomes news… 

And I’ll watch all the channels, again.