Swimming, nearly sinking: Journalists' day out reporting on Cyclone Yaas

It was a scary situation but there was still no dearth of the usual theatrics.

ByTanishka Sodhi
Swimming, nearly sinking: Journalists' day out reporting on Cyclone Yaas
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As Cyclone Yaas hit the eastern coastal states of Odisha and Bengal on Wednesday, bringing high winds of 130-145 kmph, journalists put their lives at risk to report from the ground. A few turned the disaster into a reality show, however.

It may not have been as bad as the journalist who reported on a flood while sitting on a man’s shoulders, the question still is: why are media houses making them do so?

A Kolkata TV journalist went live on Facebook narrating how she and her coworkers almost died earlier in the day while reporting on the cyclone from near Vishwa Bangla Park in Bengal’s Digha. They were packing up, Suchandrima Paul said, when the water began to rise. “Within a minute or two,” she added, “the situation got very bad.”

Soon, the Kolkata TV car started to go under, as did the motorbike of a journalist from a news website.

“We pulled out the driver as he wasn’t able to come out on his own,” she said. “I tried to remove some important things from the car, but couldn’t remove it all.” In the live video, Suchandrima and people around her were in tears. They were all safe now, she told Newslaundry, though the driver was still traumatised.

“You are a journalist, right?” she asked. “You would know that journalists have to take risks in such matters. If your colleague was on the verge of drowning in a car, close to death, you wouldn’t just stand there, right?”

On News18 Bangla, an “exclusive” report showed a reporter standing on higher ground while interviewing a man and a woman “swimming” in the floodwaters. The swimmers were described as civil defence officials who were headed to rescue people from their homes.

But as the camera panned, several people could be seen standing in ankle-deep water, including possibly the same man who was “swimming” earlier in the clip, indicating that the video was perhaps theatrics for TV.

News18 Bangla also aired another report of its journalist standing in waist-deep water.

An “exclusive” broadcast on Zee 24 Ghanta had a reporter explaining how bad the situation was in Digha. She was hit by a wave and nearly fell over.

None of these thetrics come close to an exchange involving a reporter for Naxatra News in Odisha. The reporter asked a citizen why he had stepped out despite the strong winds and impending cyclone. The man said, quite simply, that he came out seeing the reporter.

The reporter said he was there to show the news. The man said that if he hadn’t come out, who would the reporter show in the news? “Didn’t you come out to show me?” he asked.

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