New Delhi/Mumbai: In the wake of the terror attacks in Mumbai, several newspapers, television channels, and radio stations have launched initiatives that aim to channel the anger and frustration being expressed by people into a movement for better crisis management and governance.
Hindustan Times has joined hands with news channel CNN IBN to launch an initiative titled Citizens Against Terror. The initiative has invited suggestions from citizens, which will later be vetted by an expert committee that will pick the best suggestions. The initiative will then submit the suggestions to the government as a citizens’ charter and will culminate with a television show where readers will get to question politicians. “We have received an overwhelming response on day one itself,” said Sanjoy Narayan, editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times. “We could feel the amount of anger and outrage among our readers and thought it would be good if we could channel this into something constructive.”
Many of the initiatives would appear to be driven by a desire among the publications and channels involved to connect better with their readers and viewers and offer them a forum to air their views.
Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, publisher of The Times of India, is launching an initiative titled Mumbai Cares. “It’s a small initiative specifically aimed to benefit those 400 or 500 families that were directly impacted by the events in Mumbai. We got a phenomenal response when we put a front-page pointer on Wednesday asking people to write in if they would like to help in any way,” said Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer, BCCL. Kansal said his firm will use its newspapers and Times Now news channel and also set up a website for this initiative. “The idea is to see how this anger can be channeled productively.”
Mint, which, like Hindustan Times is published by HT Media Ltd launched an initiative titled “If I were PM” on Sunday. The paper asked concerned citizens to write in with concrete suggestions on how they would make India safer for its citizens. The suggestions have been published in the paper every day since Monday, and on a blog (http://blogs.livemint.com/blogs/if_i_were_pm/default.aspx).
The India Today Group has launched an initiative titled ‘Declare War On Terror’. “The mission of the Movement is to bring all Indians together to fight and counter terrorism in all forms,” the company said in a statement. And India TV Mission, a registered charity partly supported by India TV, plans to undertake several initiatives to support the families of army and police personnel who died in the Mumbai attacks.
Meanwhile, in a show of solidarity with the city’s terror victims, all seven private radio stations in Mumbai came together between 7 and 8 in the evening Wednesday. Radio jockeys from the stations called each other up and discussed, live and on air, the issues facing the city. At 8, all stations played music composer A R Rahman’s version of Vande Mataram. And many set aside their trademark hit playlist format to focus on phone-ins, on ground interactions with Mumbaikars and discussions with special guests. Most stations also opted for more somber music with patriotic undertones as compared to loud hit music.
And many stations have also been encouraging their listeners to call in and talk about how they feel about the terror attacks. “While television supplied viewers with live feed from various points, radio really emerged as a forum for the people. It gave them an opportunity to vent, to express themselves and put forth their views,” said Gaurav Sharma, group-programming director, HT Music and Entertainment Company Ltd, a subsidiary of HT Media Ltd that runs Fever 104 FM.
“Obviously there is a limitation on content as we can’t do news, what we can do is be a medium that supports virtual communities, which is a very powerful thing,” added Apurva Purohit, chief executive officer, Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd. which runs Radio City 91.1FM.