Was the media harassed just to gain some publicity?
There’s been quite a lot of hullabaloo of late over the misplacement of two phones belonging to a member from the entertainment industry. Reportedly, the phone sets could not be found and then the security accompanying the celebrity locked the gate and searched the journalists present.
It is believed that the behaviour meted out to the media present was impolite, with an insinuation that they had something to do with the lost phones. Anyway, as per reports, video footage analysis later showed that someone from outside who had come to arrange the lights was the thief.
But the damage had already been done because the media people who were there had felt a sense of humiliation. The door-locking was clearly insulting to everyone, while the security guards treating everyone with thinly veiled suspicion added to the anger.
Obviously, we all become a bit paranoid when we lose our phones because, in today’s world, everything is kept inside a person’s phone, which is not just for talking but for storing a wide variety of information -- many of which is private.
Anyway, since I was not there to witness the drama first hand, I will not make any comments but only write some of the thoughts that came to mind as I read several reports on the matter in a variety of newspapers and online portals.
Goes to show that all of us, myself included, savour contretemps involving people from the glamour world.
Why weren’t the phones secured?
The first question is, why weren’t the phone sets kept in a bag or someplace safe?
In a public place, no matter how secured it may appear to be, a bag containing personal items should always be kept close. I am reminded of an international development summit held at the Radisson around four years ago. At the program, one of my former colleagues from the IFC lost her bag as she left it unattended inside the main conference hall.
She lost everything: Her phone, credit cards, cash, and other items. Who took it? No one knew, because the conference room had journalists, foreign dignitaries, government officials, hotel staff, development people, and security.
No search was arranged and no one closed the door. They could have shut the door but that would have been highly embarrassing.
I am not wrong in stating that if someone is carrying a phone, or phones, it’s that person’s responsibility to ensure that the devices are secured. In case of a celebrity or a socialite, the phone can easily be given to the security person(s) accompanying him or her.
Who oversees security at the Press Club?
The second issue is about the security of the press club. As per reports, the people accompanying the actor closed the doors and “confined” the media. Why people from outside were allowed to take over security at the National Press Club is puzzling.
Within the press club, the complete jurisdiction for safety should be upon the security personnel who are employed by the club and not by outsiders.
Therefore, this searching of journalists by outsiders is in complete violation of the code of an institution. If this event had happened in any hotel of the city, the hotel security would have taken over immediately.
The threat to divulge secrets
Soon after the incident, a letter was seen circulating in social media which contained the line saying that, unless the actor apologized, the media would not only boycott her programs but would also make diligent efforts to bring out in the open embarrassing details about her private life.
This line, in my opinion, could have been deleted.
This only portrays the media as being vengeful, which is not true in most cases. Many of the known and established faces in the glamour world have a lot of skeletons in the cupboard which the media knows about but tries to ignore.
Actors who had their recorded intimate moments released to the internet are given due respect, while their transgressions of the past are mostly sidelined. Many acclaimed female faces in the glamour world have murky pasts, and while the media is aware of the antecedents, it prefers to keep quiet even when the actor delivers blatant lies on TV chat shows and other programs about their lives before becoming famous.
A few years ago, a popular film actress from the early part of the millennium was found to be working as an escort at a flat in Niketan. The story only came out when she was caught in a police sting operation, though no follow-up news was done, saving her unnecessary humiliation.
There are countless such episodes.
So, saying that the media will hit back with a vengeance is not the proper way. Instead, it should have been mentioned how many times the media has remained mum while possessing enough implicating knowledge to destroy a person from the glamour world.
The conspiracy approach
The third thought that came to mind: Was this all part of a plan to raise pandemonium and bring the actor to the centre of gossip/attention?
Admittedly, any publicity is actually positive because, whether the reason for crowd interest was negative or not, people will be searching for that one name for a few days. In an age when the average lifespan of a story is less than a day, getting coverage for three to four days can work wonders to rejuvenate a career.
See, even I am writing about it.
Putting aside the theories, the prudent approach would be for the actor to apologize and for the media to discard the line which threatens the divulgence of secrets.
Let’s all be civilized.
Lastly, please look after your phone(s), whoever you are. In case you lose it in a crowd, try to deal with it smartly. After all, smartphones should be used by intelligent people and not by those who go berserk if they can’t find them.
Towheed Feroze is News Editor for Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.