Cyclone coverage by our media
A thousand people dead in the cyclone probably does not sound like a big number to a lot of Bangladeshis. After all, no politics is involved in these deaths. Why would a TV station or a newspaper bother to send their crew to the remote village of far south to see whether people are prepared? There is no political party quarrel involved in that news. Why would the media bother to analyse whether the government can evacuate so many people in time, whether it is 30 lakh or 15 lakh?
There is no industry adviser making erroneous remarks about media in that story. Why would the newspapers bother to go and check out what is a cyclone shelter and how people can be safe there? There is no party office (same party that looted the country in the recent past) being opened in these stories.
I called my family in Bagerhat, which was in the direct path of the cyclone. They did not sound very concerned. How would they? Their media is still showing political news and drama serials and songs. Their government has not called on people to help prepare for the worst. Their newspaper editorials are busy criticising government policies, political parties, and even analysing the Pakistan crisis! Everybody knew a disaster was coming - but there was just not enough urgency in it. And that is what our message is to the thousand lost souls. "Sorry - we could not do much for you. You were just not interesting story."
I am appalled by the coverage (or the lack of it) of the cyclone by the Bangladeshi media. As an expatriate, I watched ntv, Channel-i, ATN, eagerly to see the latest update on the cyclone - where it is, when it is likely to strike, how are people preparing etc. Bangladeshis should have been glued to the TV to see the latest developments.
The media should have even suspended some of the TV serials or songs for a couple of days. There should have been updates every few minutes on TV. After all, this was about a category 10 cyclone - one that would soon claim a thousand non-party affiliated lives. There should have been special programmes on TV and special articles in newspapers on the last big cyclone and what went wrong back then.
Alas! How soon we have forgotten those one lakh lives!