Lessons from the terror front

It's the festival of lights. And for many the festival of noise courtesy exploding fireworks. In the hope of reducing the number of those belonging to the latter tribe, we, at, decided to put a display of firecracker articles for visitors this Diwali. We have had many top journalists reporting, analysing, over the many years of's existence. The articles we are presenting are representative of some of the best writing on the business of cable and satellite television and media for which we have gained renown. Read on to get a flavour and taste of over the years from some of its finest writers. And have a Happy and Safe Diwali!

Written By Anil Wanvari

 Posted on : 29 Nov 2008 01:02 pm

They came to terrify. And in many ways they have succeeded, if, only, for a while. The memories of a gun- and grenade-toting killer army, spraying hundreds of innocents with bullets, lobbing grenades at will, will probably never leave us. Thanks to news television.

I believe that the efforts of the army, the commandos, the NSG and the police to flush out the Taj Hotel, the Trident/Oberoi Hotels, and Nariman House offered to TV viewers images that will also stay embedded for a long, long time. Mumbaikars, nay Indians, were concerned, and in some cases affected by the terrorist strike, and wanted to know what is happening to those caught up in the mayhem.

News channels offered them updates, took them to the scene of the dastardly acts. And they also exposed the government‘s, the administration‘s, the army‘s, the police‘s and their own lack of preparedness to handle the crises.

India is a complex country. We have scores of news channels, probably more than any other nation in the world. Hence, our country requires unique treatment.

While reporters on the field of all the channels need to be lauded for staying on for hours together, reporting on developments even as shrapnel was streaking around and bombs were exploding, the key issue is could the coverage of the carnage have been managed better? And the answer is yes. The fault does not lie solely with the news channels. The fault lies with systemic failure and understanding of crisis media management by the folks who took up the rescue act, whether it is the government or the administration or the commandos or the police or the media which reported on it.

The lack of planning showed. Did anyone have a strategy – how to combat the terrorists or how to handle and manage media? It was alarming to see that no press briefing room was set up by the government or the administration or the police or the army and sound bytes were given by senior army officials and police out in the open. No protection was provided to either. Stray bullets, exploding window panes and shrapnel could have hit any one of them.

TV cameramen followed almost every move that the commandos made. News editors carried those images, but could they have been done so in a delayed manner, say with a 5-10 minute time lag right from day one so that terrorists may have not been able to keep a tab on what was being planned as has been alleged?

Could the reporters have asked more pertinent questions? Is there enough training being given to them on how to cover crises such as war or terror attacks? Most news stations internationally have war correspondents, who know how to handle themselves in demanding environments.

Could there have been more analysis – with crisis and terror management experts being brought in - from reputed studio anchors rather than playing the blame game with celebs who spouted venom against the system? Could they instead have offered solutions?

Indeed. News channels have been hard pressed for experienced journalistic talent, and hence have been putting relatively inexperienced journos on the field to handle tough situations. That is permissible if enough training is given to them.

A lot more homework could have been done by the news channels, an understanding provided of similar terrorists attacks the world over, and how they were handled. In the process, they could have eased the panic and sense of hopelessness that they instilled in viewers and all of us.

The news channels behaved like little boys in a school race all wanting to come first. Each one of them wanted to flash that exclusive. And that sometimes came in the form of canards, wild flights of imagination being flashed as insights and breaking news. Some of the Hindi channels really led in this with a sensationalist tone.

Not that the English channels were far behind. The itch to be seen as the leader forced one of the leading English anchors to voice again and again that they heard the breaking news first on his channel. It was as insensitive as you can get when almost the entire nation was quavering with fear and anger.

Clearly, a code of ethics and policies need to be put in place. Because going by the lack of focus of the government on anti-terrorism measures, a terrorist strike in another city may not be too far away. We are living in dangerous times. Hopefully, we will not see a repeat of the media management exercise we witnessed in Mumbai.

The news channels would do well to live up to their raison d‘etre well, that is, to inform, analyse, and investigate. Even if the government and administration are not doing their jobs well enough.

(Anil Wanvari is CEO and editor-in-chief of Indiantelevision Dot Com. He wrote this comment piece following the terrorist attacks on the Taj Mahal Hotel, The Oberoi Hotel in 2008 in Mumbai)

Latest Reads
Disney makes $70.3 billion counterbid for Twenty-First Century Fox

21st Century Fox has announced that it has entered into an amended and restated merger agreement with The Walt Disney Company pursuant to which Disney has agreed to acquire for a price of $38 per 21CF share the same businesses. Disney agreed to acquire under the previously announced merger...

Television Production House Post Production


Television TV Channels Sports
&pictures to air the World Television Premiere of the critically acclaimed Mukkabaaz on Saturday, 23rd June at 8pm

In a love story of a sportsman set in Bareilly, Vineet Kuma Singh plays a Kshatriya boxer who falls in love with a deaf-mute Brahmin woman. Co-produced and directed by National Film Award winner Anurag Kashyap, Mukkabaaz was screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2017...

Television TV Channels GECs
Disney appoints new creative officers for animation division

Jennifer Lee and Pete Docter have been named as new chief creative officers (CCOs) for Disney’s animation division. While Docter will handle the Pixar Animation Studios, Lee will head the Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Television Production House Post Production
Epic TV appoints Rajiee Shinde as president

Infotainment channel EPIC TV has announced the appointment of Rajiee M Shinde as president. In her new role at EPIC, she has been entrusted with the responsibility of expanding the business and building the EPIC network.

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
Endemol Shine hires banks for a possible sale

Netherlands-based TV production company, Endemol Shine Group, has hired Deutsche Bank and Liontree to explore a potential sale that could be valued between $2- $4 billion including debt.

Television Production House Post Production
Leap into the world of robots and cyber terrorists as &flix brings the premiere of ‘Ghost in the Shell’

&flix, the all-new destination for the most-awaited Hollywood hits, is all set to bring the Indian television premiere of the 2017 American sci-fi action film ‘Ghost in the Shell’, this Sunday, June 24 at 1 PM & 9 PM. The movie, which is part of the channel’s ‘Flix First Premiere’ property...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
CNBC-TV18 announces the 8th edition of the india healthcare and wellness awards

CNBC-TV18, India’s leading English business news channel along with ICICI Lombard, announces the 8th edition of the‘Indian Healthcare and Wellness Awards.’ The awards will acknowledge and felicitate the best of medical and wellness service providers in the industry. The event will also serve as a...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Times Network appoints Mihir Bhatt as chief editor - IPs

MUMBAI: Times Network, part of India’s largest media conglomerate, The Times Group, today announced the appointment of Mihir Bhatt as chief editor – IPs. In his new role, Mihir will spearhead efforts to create unique and content-rich offerings on all IPs of the network, in addition to his...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories