News can't 'break' a week later

IN Media Practice | 27/02/2013
A lathi-charge by Sikkim police gets coverage on TV channels after seven days.
DEEPMONI GOGOI wonders if this is because there is still a psychological distance from the North-east.

The national news channels based in Delhi must be careful while proudly declaring news as ‘Breaking News’. And Especially when the incident is reported as late as seven days after its occurrence. The often-repeated lament of the North-east being underreported, and late reporting of incidents from the region has been proved by the national media time and again. An incident which happened on February 11 in the northeastern state of Sikkim was reported as breaking news only on February 19 in most of English television channels. The national newspapers did not carry it at all.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Akshay Sachdeva of Sikkim’s capital Gangtok allegedly used excessive force on the members of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM). This is a new political party posturing against the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) ahead of the Assembly elections in the state in 2014. In a state where violence is rare, the IGP is shown in a video ordering his police force to lathi-charge over the members of the SKM without discriminating between men and women. He is clearly heard saying women should not be spared.

Times Now, CNN IBN and Headlines Today telecasted the week-old news on February 19 as breaking news.  In a the day and age when technology has advanced so much, a reason could be the psychological distance of the people sitting in newsrooms in Delhi. This particular incident was reported only after the video went viral on the internet.

Can week-old news be called ‘Breaking News’ just because it happens to be from the geographically distant North-east? After the incident of huge exodus of North-easterners from major cities of the country in August 2012, the same media houses admitted the negligence of the national media to the issues of the North-east. They hosted panel discussions and wrote soul-searching editorials, discussing how media should ideally report the North-east. But a year later, they have repeated the same pattern. Most news channels have not even posted a single correspondent in the state of Sikkim and in most parts of the North-east. So many happenings and incidents of prominence in this part of the country goes unreported.

The role of media in a country as diverse as India and as big as India becomes crucial. The national media’s claim to be national is valid only when it acts truly as a national media reporting diverse issues and representing most of its citizenry with fairness. This incident of late telecast of an incident from the region can also be looked at in conjunction with other incidents which took time to get recognised as news. Last year the regional media took almost 10 days to start reporting the Kokrajhar violence in Assam. The incidents of violence started on July 18, 2012 and till July 28 no national news channel had reported the matter. Most of the news channels lacked information. For the first 10 days, the news from Kokrajhar was ignored and then it gained acceptance as news. The national media must act with some amount of promptness and must act in fairness so that the news from the North-east region doesn’t go unnoticed by its viewers.

Deepmoni Gogoi is a research scholar at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Sikkim University, Gangtok

Relevant links of the news being covered:

· (Local daily of sikkim reporting the news on 12th of February )

· (Headline Today’s link telecasting the news on 19th of Feb)

· (CNN IBN link)

· (Times Now video uploaded in

· ( A video link of newslaundry discussing the coverage of Assam violence and Azad maidan violence)

· (again newslaundry link of discussing the Assam riots)

· (Indian express editorial discussing the ignorance of the northeast)

· (Face the nation episode discussing the students of the northeast facing discrimination)


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