“Uttarakhand: Rain, floods and landslides hit rescue operations, thousands still stranded”, read the headline in a popular go-to-for-everything website, I have trusted all along my academic life.
Little did I know that the devastation of the floods and the heart breaking visuals of falling buildings and faces of the miserable trapped and desperate faces would soon give way to something I wasn’t really expecting. Another one of those viral-yet-comical, brave-yet-insensitive amusing little guilty pleasures we all crave for came in a time like this.
This morning, Youtube, the boiling pot for all the good, the bad, and the funny on the Internet gave me just what I needed- a dismissal of almost everything that I learnt in undergrad level Journalism. If not everything, well at least this was a clear dismissal of lessons in Journalistic Ethics-101.
Recent Internet sensation, Narayan Pargaien, is a man of high stature. Well, at least that’s what he apparently likes to portray. The video of his report on the Uttarakhand flood is now viral on the Internet, not because he did a remarkable job of it, rather because he did what most politicians and self-righteous moral police would kill to achieve- deviating from the main issue.
Not only was his report a wee bit of an exaggeration, it was also a wee bit distracting, and a wee bit annoying, and a wee bit comical, okay fine, it was certainly more than just a wee bit comical. What do you expect out of a flood report video, which is high on ‘video’ but has little or no ‘flood’. And ‘reporting’? Now that’s just asking for too much. If you haven’t seen it yet, the video is of reporter Narayan Pargaien, doing his job (which as much as I’d like to disagree, is ‘reporting’), atop the shoulder of a man, presumably a flood victim in Uttarakhand. The flood and victims, government support and rescue operations are just the few things he said that most people who’ve seen the video just once have conveniently overlooked. Because well, you cannot blame the man on the shoulder to not get through to you, he tried his best on his part… It is all your fault you person with a short attention span!
Okay now I sense too much bashing happening here. Let’s cut him some slack and give the poor man the benefit of doubt (I was talking about the man who’s carrying him, who did you think? I said poor).
Anyway, so why do you think the man resorted to what the Internet has termed as ‘inhuman journalism’? Who knows? Maybe Mr. Pargaien was ahead of our time or a literary genius for all you know, metaphorically depicting the ‘burden on the shoulder’ of the man via journo… ahem… floods, yes floods, that took away everything from him. Poetic isn’t he? Or maybe it was just humour he (unintentionally I suppose?) wanted us all to see in a situation where that is the last thing one can offer. Well, whatever floats your boat Mr. Pargaien, or rather, whatever ensures you float.
Now, time to cut Mr. Pargaien some slack, after all everyone does not have the luxury of a Yellow Submarine, like the Beatles. The man did do whatever he could to save himself from the still unpredictable flood. Of course, it would’ve been an ounce better if our shoulder man could’ve also saved Mr. Pargaien from the flood of Internet commenters. But you can’t have everything you know.
All said and done, we are still in a deep, dark, dingy place where the country’s media is concerned. There is still an enormous amount of growing up that the media needs to do. And when it comes to a tiny droplet of a mishap like this one, the Internet will make sure the ghost of your mistakes shadow you forever.
I just hope that journalism one day becomes what it’s supposed to (wishful thinking, I know). Fair, and free, and ethical and all that jazz.