Wednesday, May 17, 2006

WHAT A CROC!

No, I am not talking about the salt water crocodiles that inhabit the northern part of Australia and I wish this article was about them. Oh, no. This is not even about aviation or my travels-now how weird is that?

For those who read my previous item, I went on a tirade against the top official of the tourism department for making statements that I termed outlandish. She had reportedly made a statement to the press that Mysore Airport was going to be made into an International Airport. A journalist friend Mr. Vijendra Rao who has his own blog on mymysore.com was also at the Tourism event in Mysore. He wrote me an e-mail saying that he was at the venue when such a statement was purported to have been made by the officer, but he had not heard it.

It all started when I read the online edition of Star of Mysore, like many Mysoreans outside Mysore tend to do. The headline screamed that Mysore was going to get an International Airport. Now, yours truly has been reporting through this blog, about the need for an Airport in Mysore, the delays that are taking place regarding the project and how officials have made plans (or have they?) to build a domestic Airport that can connect with other regional Airports and so on. Now to read that a non-starter as yet, has been “upgraded” from domestic to International, got me rattled enough to write an article on the subject.

Readers of my last piece will see in the latest comment from Mr. Vijendra Rao, where he has been kind enough to make inquiries with the concerned official and has come back saying that the lady was misquoted by the paper. It seems that the reference was made about Mangalore Airport becoming International and not Mysore. Now that’s a big difference and a snafu like this should have been corrected by the paper in its next issue. The statement was made by the officer on 15th of May and as of now, there has been no retraction published by the paper (at least not online) and there has been no “corrigendum” published either. Let’s see if one appears sometime soon and in the meantime, I wrote off a nasty one to “voice of the reader”. I won’t hold my breath to see that one published, especially if the concerned official never really made such a remark.

I have a grouse against the official, though, assuming that she was alerted about this piece of news published in the newspaper. Why has she kept quiet and why has she not asked for retraction of the story from the newspaper? The least they owe her, for misquoting her, is an apology. News reporters seem to have a license to write whatever they want and their higher ups don’t deem it necessary to verify anything with anybody. And it wasn’t All Fools Day, either.

I hope other Mysoreans were not overly excited about the news that was never the news, hoping that their next trip back home, they could have skipped the mosquito riddled trap called Bangalore Airport.

16 comments:

Athul said...

yes , the things r getting clearer now .

Lets see what mr gvk has to say about this incident regarding the media .


i cant stop wondering , after reading the blog , r they officials not at all concerned about how media r treating what they have said ??

Secondly r those media not at all concerend of putting blunders as headlines and not retracting it once they have known the truth .

have they lost what they call as media ethics ??

is there no one in the media to atleast verify or trace the story .

Till sometime ago , i thought media people where the most knowledgeable people with all the events updated in their mind , atleast there were someone who would see or observe such things before such things came onto the public .


Lets see what other bloggers have to say ,,

GVK said...

I wasn’t inclined to comment, till I read Mr Athul’s. As for the news that never was, the reporter,we know, didn’t make it up. He or she misheard Mangalore as Mysore; the news desk passed it, and the editor splashed it (was it Page One?). For the benefit of those who don’t know how it works, it must be said here that anything written for a newspaper goes through at least three persons. And none of them, apparently, was moved enough to suspect the veracity of the story. Real ‘cool’, as they say, here in the US.

Experienced reporters have horse sense to cross-check when they sense something tricky. The standard operating procedure adopted in my media days was compare notes with one another on the scene (even borrow carbon copy from our so-called rivals).

An alert copy desk ought to have checked the agency copy (story filed by PTI, UNI) to ascertain if they had covered this point in their reports. If the agencies didn’t mention anything about Mysore airport going international, the SoM reporter should have been queried as to how he got such ‘exclusive’ info that the others apparently missed.

I suppose in SoM no important story gets published without the editor being informed about it. And the buck stops with the editor.

Despite such checks and balances mistakes do occur. And an editor is the first one to admit it. If SoM hasn’t yet published a correction, it may be because its news editor/editor hasn’t been informed about the error. Maybe no one accesses mymysore.com at SoM.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

For the info of all readers, the news was on front page, headline news! Here is the link, you may see the second title that says "Tourism Principal Secy promises International Airport for Mysore"

http://starofmysore.com/index.asp?type=archives4

The editor may not be reading mymysore.com but I did write a letter to the editor by e-mail asking how the official could have made such a mistake and promise an International Airport when we don't even have a domestic one. I have put pointed questions in that letter. Af of now, my letter has not been published. While publishing my letter may not be necessary, I would have thought that the editorial staff would at least take a re-look on the matter or get a clarification from the concerned officer.

My other question goes unanswered anyway, and that was, why did the official not take this up with SOM after she knew (or had been alerted to)that something that she had not said was attributed to her? I wish somehow she had been given the web address of mymysore.com to see whats happening in Mysore and the discussions taking place on this topic.

If I were the official, I'd have refuted the news, if not in SOM, in another paper. How else would one clear one's name from being ridiculed. Many SOM readers would have taken the news as the gospel truth, especially if no other newspaper published anything contrary in nature.

GVK said...

Am thankful to Capt. Murthy for the SoM link. The operative part of the story reads:

Speaking on the potential of tourism in Karnataka, L. Shanthakumari, Principal Secretary, Department of Information, Tourism and Youth Services, remarked that Karnataka could be seen as an expanding tourist destination. A proposal had been made to the Centre for creating an International Airport at Mysore, she disclosed

Maybe she did mean 'Mysore'. To say that the state has sent a proposal to the centre isn't saying much. It's rather odd that the local media couldn't/didn't seek further info from Ms.Shanthakumari, after her speech. When was the proposal made? On what grounds ? Was it backed up with a feasibility report? What has been the Centre's response, if any ? Is Karnataka following it up through their resident commissioner in New Delhi?

It's a case of media muddle, as our friend Mr Vijendra would call it. Had SoM done the duty of a responsive newspaper, it would have got it clarified from the horse's mouth, if she meant Mysore or Mangalore. Either way, the follow-up questions needed asking (even if she had Mangalore in mind). Plainly put, the lady was allowed to get away with hogwash.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mr. GVK, also in the same article the Singapore Airlines manager says its a good idea to have an International Airport in Mysore. Would the reporter have made a mistake twice? Once from the official and once again from Singapore Airline GM in India! Each one of them mention Mysore!

GVK said...

Must check this out, Capt.Murthy. Did the Singapore Airlines official make the comment on the same occasion? Or at a subsequent function.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Mr. GVK, here is the link for the Singapore Airlines GM statement made the next day on SOM. If you go to the SOM website and click on May 16th issue, you'll find an article "MYSORE AIRPORT ROW: FINAL HEARING IN HC ON MAY 30"

SOM published about Mysore international Airport statement the previous day. the next day, the reporter makes a double mistale. The statement made by the GM Sing Airlines is as follows: "Singapore connection:
Declaring that Singapore Airlines was prepared to start daily service to Bangalore the Airlines General Manager in India, B.K. Ong observed that due to lack of facilities Bangalore had less international connectivity as compared to other metros in India.
Remarking that the facilities in Bangalore Airport were not upto the mark, Ong said that 50 international operators were operating from Delhi while only 11 from Bangalore against Mumbai's 42 and Chennai's 30.
He suggested international connectivity to the proposed Mysore Airport which would generate strong economy and employment."

Here's the link: http://starofmysore.com/index.asp?type=archives4

So, the statement was made at the same venue says the reporter. Again he got is wrong from two different people and published the wrong news on two different days!!!

GVK said...

Chances are Sing Airlines GM went by SoM report the previous day to base his statement. Had the newspaper been responsive enough to correct the mistake at the earliest,it could have helped matters.

Gouri Satya said...

Principal Secretary for Tourism L.Shanthakumari made no mention of an international airport for Mysore at the Tourism Expo, which I attended both the days.
On the other hand, she explained the present position relating to upgrading the existing Mandakalli airport.On the second day, perhaps coming to know that some local daily had wrongly reported, clarified that it was not Mysore, but Mangalore which would receive
United Emirates flight and would go international.
The reporter/newspaper should have given a thought to the report sent by the reporter how an airport with
just around 200 acres can go international, when no mention of such a proposal has been made so far by any one, not even by the Airport Authority of India officials, who have inspected the airport a couple of times.
As far as I know even the Singapore delegate made no mention of Mysore as an international airport. He was generally saying that with so many excellent tourist
spots Mysore should have an international-level airport.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thank you Mr. Gouri Satya for the clarification. The official stands vindicated it seems. The newspaper should have published a retraction but they have not done it. Perhaps they don't think it is that important an issue to issue a clarification or they don't think it is their responsibility, I don't know which.

Thanks again for the clarification on this matter. Luckily credible people like you and Mr. Vijendra Rao were there at the venue and can refute the SOM news.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Now, here's something interesting that happened. I had mentioned earlier that i wrote to the concerned newspaper about this matter related to the airport and another un-related matter. There were a lot of skeptics, including myself, who thought that my letter to the editor would not see the light of day. Surprise and credit is due here, they published my entire letter, withut editing, even the part that asks the newspaper as to why it's reporters were not up to the mark< although not in those words (perhaps tougher words)!

The link for the my letter on Star of Mysore dated 22nd May 2006 is as follows: http://www.starofmysore.com/main.asp?type=vor

Athul said...

YES sir , u did it .

happy to see that they have put ur mail in site .

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

On mymysore.com, Mr. Vijendra Rao wrote as follows: "Dear Everybody,
I had a chance meeting with friend Rangaraj, the Star of Mysore reporter, who reported on Mysore getting an international report, an issue which triggered a fairly extensive debate and has consumed lot of time of the debators. I asked him whether he was aware that some of us are discussing his report critically. He said he had not visited www.mymysore.com, the forum for our discussion, but heard about our debate. He also maintained that Shanthakumari, then Principal Secretary of Tourism, did mention Mysore as going to get an international airport, but subsequntly denied it. Further, he confirmed having read the same in a booklet distributed at the tourism meet, where she made the announcement. The booklet, he maintained, clearly states that Mysore is going to get an international airport. RR, as the reporter is identified in his SoM reports, has promised to get back to me with the booklet.

I think, Star of Mysore now deserves a clean chit, but it ought to have responded at least when Captain Anup Murthy wrote a letter doubting the veracity of the report. Meanwhile, RR deserves our apologies, thuogh he could have offered his clarification, since he said he heard about our discussion on this forum.

Over to you Captain, to comment on the unreasonableness of the whole idea.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

As a response to SOM reporter clarifying the matter to Mr. Vijendra Rao's querries, I put in a longish reply on mymysore.com issues and ideas board in a forum titled: "Is the media accountable to readers?"

Here is the web link to that forum: http://www.mymysore.com/page3.html

Anonymous said...

Hi Captain

Reckon you are back from your travels ! Interesting exchange on the Mysore International Airport issue.

A few take-aways. First, that one (as a journo) has to be particularly sensitive when reporting on matters that concern communities at large.

I would be pretty upset if someone reported "Bombay Airport to Get A Second Runway". And then I learn that, oh, that's only if it was privatised first. Or actually, only if the slum dwellers accepted the relocation formula. Or, only if the lenders agreed. Or if the Left gave its consent !

On a related note, there is one fundamental problem - that is of recurring and repeated announcements of the same project INTENTIONS over years, because we've never executed the original INTENT. That intent, in most cases, is perhaps a few decades old now.

Mysore Airport, Bangalore second airport (it was discussed for two decades ?), New Bombay airport, Bombay trans harbour sealink, Bangalore metro, Bangalore-Mysore expressway (Kheny still fighting !) et al. The list is endless. These are infrastructure project intents and plans. And we as a country are terrible on execution.

From a media perspective, one problem as I can see is a tendency to report every announcement like this was the first time it was being made ! Month after month, year after year.

Which can be quite frustrating if you and I are the user of a potential service or product and are suffering from the lack of it !

Mysore airport is one such example. A good news system would have, ideally, noted this announcement, studied it, possibly judged it as loose, unsubstantiated or even reckless and blocked it out or suitably amended it.

Or very clearly paraphrased it as an INTENT or DESIRE of ONE official who has no MATERIAL bearing whatsoever on the project's execution !!

For instance, how much credence would I give to a tourism official on an issue that is clearly the aviation ministry's domain. A tourism official may state a desire or an intent but that has ZERO relation to reality, ever !! I would even doubt an aviation official if the statement was made in isolation and not suitably backed by a local political statement - or whatever.

Am not referring to the article in specific though, that would not be fair !

Cheers

GE

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mr. Govind. I am not back from my travels as yet, back in Singapore again and should be here for another week. I have not been bloggin often but when i find time, I have even put up comments on your datelinebombay site. I should resume blogging during lunch time. My US trip is delayed for first week of July and I hope to fly the T-28 then. I appreciate your comments.