The Commonwealth Games (CWG) about to begin in New Delhi in the next couple of days have received plenty of bad press, and most of it quite rightly so. From scandals about massive organizational corruption to poor construction and hygiene standards, the negative media reports have really tarnished the 'Shining India' image that the Indian government was hoping to send out to the world. And as several Indian commentators and social activists have pointed out, there is something intrinsically problematic about spending 2.5 - 6.5 Billion US dollars (estimates vary) on a media spectacle in a country beset by dire poverty and a host of other basic issues. As we know all too well in Pakistan, governments obsessed about projecting positive images of the country to the global media often do it at the cost of what should be real priorities.
But not all of the scandals around the Delhi Commonwealth Games are self-inflicted.
Remember that shocking story about an Australian Channel 7 reporter smuggling explosives into the CGW athlete's village to show the laxity of security standards at the venue? It reverberated across the world, and added to the chorus of voices demanding that the Games be cancelled. Well, as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's well-respected MediaWatch programme reveals, the story was not all it was cracked up to be. (Thanks to @alexlobov for guiding me to it.)
If you watch /read no other media takedown this week, do watch this to understand how media reports can be manipulated, to devastating effect. And also to understand why the Pakistani media is not the only one sometimes guilty of gross sensationalism. Incidentally the full transcript of the segment can be found here.
Don't you just wish there was an equivalent programme on our television screens? Until that time comes, however, you'll have to do with the net. In any case, I just loved MediaWatch's tagline, which I thought could have been written for us at Cafe Pyala too: "Everyone loves it, until they're on it."