Alive, But Not Kicking

Videos of murder, suicide, a funeral wake. TOI’s new Alive app hits new lows of sensationalism and insensitivity.

ByRajyasree Sen
Alive, But Not Kicking
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You have to hand it to The Times Of India. They’re always the first movers on the media block. First to sell editorial space to the highest bidder. First to get rid of an editor-in-chief for a mainline newspaper. And just when you thought there could be no more firsts – it’s now the first newspaper to announce a new app which allows you to see videos of select news items on your mobile. All you have to do is download the app on your phone and then hold the phone over the news reports which have been cherry-picked by TOI, and you’ll get to see videos related to the news report. Revolutionary.

The app is innovatively called Alive. How apt, since you’re going to get to see news reports come “Alive”.  Get it? It’s just that the app seems to thrive on mainly showing videos related to death. So, in the last few days, TOI has asked readers to download the app and see:

  • A video of Jacintha’s family’s private moments of mourning. “To get an exclusive video of the Saldanha family coping with the fallout of a prank gone wrong”
  • A video of the Connecticut shootout
  • Obama’s tearful condolence of the school shooting
  • Salman Khan talking about having the “suicide disease” or his facial nerve disorder

The least offensive of the lot, and thankfully not related to death or suicide, were these three asking us to watch:

  • Ranbir-Anushka’s playful moment
  • Hafiz Saeed’s provocative speech
  • Rehman Mallik’s diplomatic gaffes on sensitive issues

While I understand that these do seem to be the worst of times, surely there must be some less morbid news and equally eyeball-grabbing videos to show readers. Just off the top of my head – Sachin getting struck out for 6 runs, the many Modis in his 3-D avatar, Mamata Banerjee donning her Taekwondo belt, the Queen’s corgis attacking Princess Beatrice’s terrier. The list is endless.

But no such luck. TOI has decided that nothing sells as well as death. I’m almost afraid to open the newspaper tomorrow and see what new horror TOI is offering to show me a video of. Bhagirath Palace going up in flames? The helper at the Connaught Place restaurant being shot at by the disgruntled client? Or maybe they’ve got a video of that chap who hacked off his sister’s head and carried it into a police station in Kolkata? If not, I’d send my reporters to Kolkata on the double and get a hold of it.

Thankfully for TOI, the bottom of the editorial barrel is dark and deep. And we can only wait and watch what new memento mori TOI will serve up to us for breakfast tomorrow.

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