Saturday, 17 April 2010

An Open Letter to the Editor's Guild - Coverage of a Natural Disaster

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Anand Bala balasubramanyan [at]
Date: Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 9:43 PM
Subject: An Open Letter to the Editor's Guild - Coverage of a Natural Disaster
To: rajdeep.sardesai [at], rajdeep.sardesai [at]
Cc: editor [at]

Dear Rajdeep

I write to you in your capacity as an office bearer of the Editor’s Guild.

Has there been a collective decision by the mainstream media to ignore the devastation that killed 120 people in West Bengal? Over 100,000 people are left homeless and the coverage is conspicuous by it’s absence. Even the BBC devoted more space and time to it than our national dailies and news channels.

Do the lives of the victims of the storm not merit a report from the ground, or a question to a spokesperson of a national party or even an update on the number of homeless, missing and dead?

I am not asking you to stop covering the skeletons of the IPL and entertainment. I am asking why a natural disaster of such magnitude cannot get a fraction of the same bandwidth.

Citizens have been let down completely by the media. We don’t even know the status of rescue operations and what relief is required and how much has reached citizens. As a reader and a viewer I am pained but not surprised. This must be a new low. 

I don’t know if the Editor’s Guild has the will to do something about it. I hope they do. Your readers and viewers deserve better.

Anand Bala
तूने बोया पेड़ बबूल का, फिर आम कहाँ से खाए?
- Sant Kabir

UPDATE 1: A rather candid and short response received from Rajdeep

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rajdeep Sardesai
Date: Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 11:38 PM
Subject: RE: An Open Letter to the Editor's Guild - Coverage of a Natural D isaster
To: Anand Bala
Cc: editor - The Hoot

U raise an issue of impt and national interest. I agree we have failed. Will definitely try and stir some consciousness on it within the editor community. Tks


UPDATE 2: This letter and it's response is all available on the website here. Please post any comments that you may have over there


  1. What are you talking about? Don't you think there is much more important stuff that needs to be covered like Sania's wedding, their reception, the wedding culinary report and then biggest fights on whether to dethrone Mr. Tharoor or not... Why the hell should they cover the pity 120 souls? after all there are more than 1 billion people to be fed with the junk journalism.

  2. Hi Mohan

    Thanks for the comment.

    I admit I am a harsh critic of the media. That said, it is for **the first time** since I started writing this blog that I feel so offended by their lack of empathy with a tragedy.

  3. Excellent point. I was thinking the exact same thing yesterday as I happened to watch the full news bulletin for once and only later when I logged into my comp did I find out about the cyclone via Google News. I felt let down.

  4. Hi Pramod

    I tried hard and desisted from making it into a rant.

    PS- Waiting for your post on the UID meeting.

  5. Does the onus always lie on the media ?

  6. @gyanban

    Err...when you talk about news coverage of a natural disaster...yes.
    BUT it need not be mainstream media. It can be alternative media as well (and by alternative I don't mean twitter ;-)

  7. "Death of a person is a tragedy, death of many is statistics"

  8. @Tarun
    Well said.
    It's also about the profile of the people dying and where they are dying.
    For e.g 120 people dying in a cloudburst over Mumbai may have elicited a different response.