Breaking News, literally: Sensational and shocking. These are words by which some channels and web magazines swear. There is nothing sensational or shocking about what they report.
However the other day I watched news actually breaking. Yes, spokesmen of two rival parties during a live TV debate found hot words not getting them anywhere.
Logic demanded that where words failed, action should follow. One hit the other on the head while the latter tried to duck and give it back even as the anchor/ moderator watched helplessly. When emotion gets the better of one’s self, one does not gently pat the other; one tries to break the head. This is what might have happened, justifying ‘breaking news’.
Politicians are not alone in displaying raw emotions. Among our journalistic fraternity, we do have some non-Gandhians who strongly believe ‘fist is mightier than pen’. Here are some of the episodes for the younger lot who had not been around at the time.
This was at the Fateh Maidan Club during 1969-70. The boss and a junior reporter of a top English daily were not in the best of terms; the former worked his way up through the mill and the latter emerged from the portals of the OU Journalism department. It was nothing short of a drunken brawl where the youngster found that other was not a ‘push-over.’
The second one was at a star hotel in Visakhapatnam in 1980-81 where I was an observer, not a referee. Some of our friends from Hyderabad, pretty high as the party peaked, made a nasty comment about the quality of food and service, which did not go down too well with the servers. What began as a one-to-one soon turned into a fight between hotel staff and the journalists. The night’s honours went to the hotel workers while our side finished with black eyes and a bleeding nose.
An agency reporter, worked up by the humiliation, vowed to get the hotel closed ‘by tomorrow.’ He dragged me along to the nearest police station and shocked the lone constable, half asleep, by screaming ‘edi raa nee SI. Pilu?’ My friend managed to disturb the Home Minister, Prabhakar Reddy, to complain. A seasoned politician who knew the reporter well, he assured ‘Don’t worry. I am anyway coming in the morning.’ The Minister did not come, he was not scheduled to. We were ‘kicked out’ of the hotel. All was forgotten in the right spirit.
Drama 3 was staged in the Secretariat press room during the mid-80s. A senior journalist with a trade union background was knocked unconscious with a single left-hander by a newcomer working for Newstime. The victim was rushed to the Secretariat dispensary. Provocation unknown.
Incident 4: Legislative Council hall entrance. Press boycott was in ‘force’ and journalists were persuaded/ coerced not to enter. The representative of Andhra Bhoomi with the build of a boxer felled a ‘pro-boycotter’ with a blow and made his way in.
There may be many such encounters I have not known.