The ‘Dirty Picture' running on TV, print, Twitter and inside the House

BY T S Sudhir| IN Media Practice | 09/02/2012
An excited media forgot the ABC of ethical journalism while questioning the lack of moral and ethical behaviour of the ministers.
T S SUDHIR’s take on on the Karnataka-related shenanigans. Pix:
At the entrance to the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore is inscribed `Government's work is God's work'. On Monday evening, two ministers of the Sadananda Gowda cabinet decided God's work could wait and decided to indulge in some voyeurism. God-sent was a 4 min 10 seconds video on a fellow minister's mobile and the duo indulged in some Ooo La la watching the dirty picture. Till an hour or so later, when they found all of Karnataka could watch them in the act on telly. At least two Kannada channels - TV9 and Suvarna - had recorded them from the vantage top angle of the press gallery.  
From a media point of view, this was like the kiss of life. A masala,  sensational story. The porn video included a striptease, dance and a sexual act. An excited media forgot the ABC of ethical journalism while questioning the lack of moral and ethical behaviour of the ministers. The pornographic pictures ran on Kannada regional TV channels without being morphed and in some cases, were inadequately pixellated, a clear violation of broadcasting guidelines.
But while the watchdogs of the news broadcast industry fretted and fumed, one of the three ministers, Cooperation minister Laxman Savadi knew how to deal with this, better. In Savadi's Athani constituency in Belgaum district, 500 km from Bangalore, power tripped leading many to believe that Savadi most likely had the linemen in Athani on speed dial. A few hours into the night when the power supply was restored, none of the TV channels were available because now the cable operators were playing truant. The icing on the cake was on Wednesday morning, when Savadi's men reportedly bought all the newspapers that Athani would usually have access to, as a result of which the region went without newspapers.
Something for Justice Katju to note.
With the video going viral, soon the national electronic media also got into the act. The various natakas in Karnataka are always providing juicy fodder for the media but this one was like the sizzling item number, after all the Yeddyurappa tearjerker scenes. As `Munna badnaam huwa', women activists were out in force, objecting to the VIPs doing inside the House, what they probably would have been better off doing in the privacy of their homes.
And almost as if to give colourful expression to the VIP misdemeanour inside Karnataka Vidhan Sabha, activist and feminist Madhu Kishwar used the word `masturbation' during a discussion on CNN-IBN on Wednesday night. Equally colourful with language Suhel Seth, first exclaimed ``Oh my God'' and then went to on describe the usage of the M-word ``a first on Indian news television''. Clearly, journalism was discovering new ground 24 hours after ``exposing'' an act of indecent exposure.
Meanwhile, the real battlelines were being drawn on Twitter. A virtual world, where tweeples wear their party loyalties and affiliations on their handles, the pro-saffronites initially on the backfoot, soon started attacking the pro-Congresswallahs making comparisons to a Congress minister's act in Rajasthan and N D Tiwari's orgy in Hyderabad's Raj Bhavan. Media wasn't spared as it was accused of reporting `porngate' with ``glee''. Conspiracy theories were thrown about, wondering how it is it that `porngate' had emerged just a day before UP went to vote in the first phase.
The last 48 hours have been a lot of noise over `Pornataka'. Politically it caused tremors in Karnataka and the media gained precious eyeballs. But in terms of what was acceptable and what wasn't, clearly the jury is still out.


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