Professionally journalists are supposed to strive for collecting information. However, that does not mean being inhuman, media observers pointed out. They added that while live telecast from the site of the Savar tragedy has kept viewers updated about the rescue operation in real time, the desperate bid of media personnel to gather footage deserves flak.
The media’s zeal on reporting the incident has been deemed insensitive by many. One such incident involved a television reporter taking advantage of a small hole created by the rescue team to provide air for the trapped.
He allegedly stuck his microphone down the hole and asked the victims to describe the “real picture.” One of the trapped, a woman, could only respond with a plea to be rescued. “Save me first. Please brother save me first.”
The reporter’s actions have brought under question the ethics of the profession. Critics have claimed that his actions cannot be let off citing professionalism; it was inhuman.
Geeti Ara Nasreen, a professor of mass communication and journalism at Dhaka University, told the Dhaka tribune: “Quite a few TV reporters have played an utterly insensitive role not only in this case, but also when covering other similar incidents.”
More than 300 people were killed and over thousands injured in what is easily one of the worst incidents of building collapse in Bangladesh. As the condition of many of the survivors being treated in local hospitals and clinics is critical, doctors say that the death toll could rise further. Locals said around 6,000 workers used to work in the five factories located in the building.
“It often seems that in their race for highest TRP [TV ratings], journalists treat the tragedy as a mere commodity to be sold to the audience. Ideally, the journalists should learn that they are not salespeople, their duty is to inform the audience,” the journalism professor said.
“Professionally, I insist that media houses should provide their journalists with intensive training and guidance on covering trauma and tragedy-related news,” she added.
Under present circumstances, the public has been relying on the media for information about ongoing rescue efforts. However, users of social media have questioned the practices of those providing the news from the site. They claimed that the reporters are hampering rescue efforts by distracting involved personnel, whose time would be better spent focusing on rescue of those trapped.
Activist and anthropologist Saydia Gulrukh rushed to the spot after the collapse and was there the whole day. She alleged that not only did the media personnel not aid the rescue efforts, instead they hounded those who were being rescued for statements and visuals despite the fact that those rescued were in dire need of medical attention. “They are so inhuman.”
The incident saw an overwhelming response from users of social media. Starting around noon on Wednesday, only three hours into the collapse, the websites were awash with offers to donate blood and information on how people could contribute to rescue efforts.
When asked about the actions of the traditional media with regard to the rescue effort, the individuals, who were following the media coverage pointed out that in some cases, the journalists showed an utter lack of common sense and humanity.
One Mouli Parvin asserted: “They [media personnel] are not human beings, they do not [know] how to dedicate themselves to others, they claim to be acting ‘professionally’ but they do not know what professionalism is.”