“We broke the news first”. “We went live first.” “Our correspondent was first to reach there”, the claims are increasingly becoming loud, albeit each one coming from different news channel. Bloody terrorist fiasco’s and the heightened probability of crisis, has led to fierce competition among channels to grab the news first. Why so? ‘Breaking news’ sell for a higher price; and it fuels, intensifies the competition. After which it’s the pick of the media planner.
In a recent incident, which happened on 24th November 2002, the terrorists attacked Hari Nagar market in Jammu, then made way to the Raghunath temple. All the news channels reported the incident, but who was the first one to go live? Again, the number 1 is important. According to the tapes available to exchange4media from Zee News, Zee news went live with the news of the terrorist attack in Hari Nagar market at 7: 17 PM and claimed to be the first one to break the news. After 6-7 minutes, the news broke on Aaj Tak, though efforts of exchange4media for confirmation of exact timing through bulletin tapes from Aaj Tak, met with failure.
Continuing with its ‘Subse Pehle’ theme, and aggressive news strategy, it seems that Zee news is on an upswing. Confident about his efforts at news channel, Laxmi N. Goel, Director-News Group, Zee said, “It was a tragic incident that took place. Our correspondent was alert, he rushed to the spot without the cameraman, and called on his way to inform the crew about the incident.” According to Zee spokesperson, the unique live footage of the Raghunath temple, was shown first by Zee news, at 7: 54 PM, whereas Aaj Tak showed the visuals at 8:38 PM and Star News at 8:12 PM.
Not long ago, on September 24, Zee News had made an impact on the audience with a 4 hour, uninterrupted live covering of military operations to flush out terrorists from a house in Gogjibagh locality in Srinagar. Later on the same day it broke the news of terrorists storming the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat.
The team at Zee News is certainly making some positive visible changes (As reported in previous stories of exchange4media). Reflecting the new mindset, it has started running a channel promo. The latest one is around the stories they have broken recently. The graphics team is busy churning out brighter, 3-D graphics on their Silicon Graphic machines and a new channel ID should be in place soon. And the reporters are keen to break the next news-first.
Clearly, this race for next breaking news is a long way from over. Surely it is time, for the number 1 to look back and take cognizance of competition.
(With additional reporting from Nikhil Gupta, exchange4media News Bureau)