The tragedy that unfolded in Bihar, over the last 48 hours, brought the vultures of TV journalists out again. Over 100 kids lost their lives to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. The Delhi media smelled a story, journalists were airlifted when the number crossed a significant 100.
In at least two news reports that emerged, journalists barged into the ICU- Intensive Care Unit of the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital. If that wasn’t disrespectful enough, they called on serving doctor and nurses, heckled and belittled them.
One such video that is now viral, features the Executive Editor of Aaj Tak, Anjana Om Kashyap.
Aaj Tak news anchor Anjana Om Kashyap recently visited the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur to report about the death of children due to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. She, along with the cameraman, reported from the ICU were several critical patients were being treated.Anjana Om Kashyap was soon called out on social media for interrupting the doctors and the on-going process of treatment, while others questioned how media could enter the ICU.Video Courtesy: BIHAR तक
The Logical Indian ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಬುಧವಾರ, ಜೂನ್ 19, 2019
Kashyap gets hold of a doctor on-duty and shouts, “if I didn’t switch on my mic then you wouldn’t have turned around.”
“Am I not on a round? Or am I just resting?” the doctor replies nervously.
She questions him about the condition of the hospital and the treatment being provided to the children, the arrangements and why a new patient is not being attended to.
She then asks the doctor how many children have died so far on that day and when he is unable to answer, lets him off by telling him to do his job. (Chaliye ilaj kijiye doctor sahab).
Another video that floated on social media, saw a journalist harassing another doctor on similar lines.
দেখুন বিজেপি শাসিত বিহারে ১৩০ শিশুমৃত্যুর আসল সত্যশুনুন সত্য SKMCH ডাক্তারদের মুখেধিক্কার বিজেপি#FAM4TMC
All India Trinamool Congress – AITC Supporters ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಜೂನ್ 18, 2019
The social media saw through the attempt at publicity. They were called out and admonished for the attempt to lunge at doctors, who were doing their duty. Those few precious minutes lost, could mean life and death for someone at the hospital.
It’s possible that the journalists in question cared for the lives lost, like the rest of us. However, their actions, of entering the hospital ward unattended, go poking around the corridor with a live reporting setup and in the process disturb the children and the families, defeats the purpose. It’s unethical and irresponsible.
The arguments that were floated for the voyeuristic behaviour is the need to show the real picture, raise questions and press the government to act.
Those that use these arguments to justify the hyperbole miss out on who and when to ask those questions. Does heckling a doctor, attending to his patients, solves the problem? Are the overworked doctors who attend to 28,000 each in Bihar, to be blamed for the abysmal infrastructure?
These very over-enthusiastic media persons often bite their tongue in the presence of authority, such as the state government, health department officials or the Chief Minister. Doctors and nurses become easy targets.
It is important for journalists to pin the blame, identify the loopholes, and hold the system accountable, not at the cost of common decency and respect for human life. Journalism- when done right can bring about a change. In cases such as these, it’s reduced to zealous attempts at grabbing eyeballs.