Nepal Earthquake: Indian Media Criticized for "Insensitive" Coverage
#GoHomeIndianMedia began trending on Twitter in the wake of an ongoing debate about why Indian anchors "want to be another Bill O'Reilly."
When the devastating earthquake hit Nepal (and parts of India) on April 25, the Indian government swiftly deployed relief efforts, sending in military planes with supplies and personnel.
India is leading the search-and-rescue efforts with over 700 personnel on the ground, followed by China (168), Bangladesh (140) and the U.S. (120). Also landing in Nepal were hordes of Indian journalists offering wall-to-wall coverage of the fatal quake that has so far claimed over 7,300 lives, with hundreds of thousands injured or missing.
But the non-stop Indian coverage has been criticized for being "insensitive," with TV reporters accused of "shoving microphones at suffering victims," according to The Times of India. They have intruded into family cremations, questioned grieving relatives, and generally shown a picture that many have found to be cringe-worthy," added the Times.
With Indian channels also available in Nepal, criticism against Indian media began to surface on social media. #GoHomeIndianMedia was soon trending on Twitter with thousands of scathing tweets from people on both sides of the border.
IndianChannels hav dramatized wholeScene of NepalEarthquake.We're simple ppl not used 2of urAttention seekingPublicity #GoHomeIndianMedia— Niti Shah (@Nitishah45) May 5, 2015
"Your media and media personnel are acting like they are shooting some kind of family serials," Nepalese writer Sunita Shakya wrote in an open letter to the Indian media. "If your media person can reach to the places where the relief supplies have not reached at this time of crisis can't they take a first-aid kit or some food supplies with them as well?"
With competition heating up among rival news television crews, reporters battled it out to embed themselves with Indian Army rescue operations. "There were too many journalists who kept making trips on the Army chopper, and that was not good," one TV reporter told The Hindu newspaper, on condition of anonymity. "I also got the sense last week that because of all this coverage, many Nepalis had started feeling that India is acting like some sort of big brother."
"It is time Indian media stepped back and jettisoned its triumphalist, jingoist tone," the DNA newspaper said Tuesday in an editorial. "Indian media should not intone the tone of superiority that Western media generally adopts in describing developing countries."
The criticism over the quake coverage comes in the wake of an ongoing debate over the "tablodization" of Indian news. Leading news network New Delhi Television (NDTV) head Prannoy Roy raised the issue in a recent speech while accepting a lifetime achievement award from the Mumbai Press Club: "Why has every news channel -- English, Hindi or regional -- turned tabloid? Why are we trying to emulate Fox News? And why does every news anchor want to be another Bill O'Reilly? We have so many Bill O'Reillys. It would make O'Reilly proud...and some have gone so far, it may even make him a trifle jealous."