OPINION

Anatomy of a Page One Story

April 08, 2007
GV Krishnan

Those in the media know of what is called silly season when hard news is hard to come by and reporters contrive news stories to keep themselves in print. A 'media gupshup' blog I am persuading Anand Balaji and his bunch of Bangalore media youngsters to set up, would hopefully run a column on how reporters learn to survive silly season, sensibly. I suggest they sponsor an award for the silliest story of the season, comprising a citation plus a basket of Ooty carrots.

The thought came during a leisurely Sunday morning read of a page one story in The Hindu (Bangalore), with the headline - 'How safe are IT professionals working in booming Silicon City?' Isn't that a mouthful for a newspaper headline? The lead paragraph, taking off from the headline, observes that the recent murder of software engineer Manoj Kumar has thrown up this all-important question. The poser is backed up with statistics, saying there have been three murders of software engineers in town during the last two years.

A police spokesman, refuting the reporter's conclusion (justifiably, for a change), points out that Bangalore registered, in any given year, murders of more auto-drivers and building workers than IT professionals. The police spokesman makes a point that, based on a stray incident of murder, it is wrong to draw the conclusion, as the media report does, that IT professionals are not safe in Bangalore. They are just as safe or threatened as people in any other profession.

The Hindu report speaks of "a notion that professionals from (IT) companies are increasingly becoming soft targets for criminals." This is bit of a stretch because the suspects in all the three murders of software engineers are said to be first-time offenders, not hardcore criminals.

The story carries the byline of the reporter. But it would be unfair to lay all the blame on the reporter. Others have to share responsibility for allowing the story to be published. The sub-editor (do they still have one?) who is accountable to the published text has evidently not exercised his news judgment. The guy who gave the headline must have been particularly blank-headed to have come with something so bland as the 'how-safe-is-it' headline. And then the late-night editor, or whoever decides on page one stories, must have been hard put to it to find anything better for a Sunday edition bottom-spread on page one.

Retired Times of India correspondent, based in Mysore.; hosts MysoreBlogPark, a parking lot for a bunch of Mysore-connected bloggers; writes a Monday column for www.zine5.com
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#1
Tanay
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April 8, 2007
05:01 AM

GVK: I had read the same in the newspaper early morning today, but don't you feel the same post has the question as well as the answer.

How safe are IT professionals in Silicon City is the question?

I can't quantify that, lets assume 5% of the IT professionals are unsafe. But the reasons for those are often, self created by the IT employees.

the showbazi and ....often flashy lifestyle of the software professionals and BPO executives are the major causes for the crimes. is one of the targeted reasons and this is valid to a greater extent.

#2
GVK
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April 8, 2007
08:29 AM

Tanay, The headline I quote appears in The Hindu copies distributed in Mysore. It reads,

How safe are IT professionals
working in booming Silicon City?

The story carries a two-column picture of the suspects in the Manoj Kumar murder case. And also a box item quoting joint commissiner of police.

Quite a play for a relative non-story?

#3
GVK
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April 8, 2007
09:30 AM

Tanay, I don't suppose I answered your query in my earlier post. I did quite get you when i read you before rushing to respond.
You are right, the question raised in the story has factored in answer. Phrasing the question, as the newspaper has done, it would elicit an answer to the effect that Bangalore is not safe for the IT guys.
As for their lifestyle making them vulnerable to attack by criminals (as the report suggest), it is a matter of one's perception. Anyway, none of the suspects three cases cited in the report are criminals. They are said to be first timer, and in the case of Manoj Kumar, someone working in his own outfit.

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