Bangalore's population is larger than Atlanta, London and Washington D.C. yet it only started broadcasting news on TV airwaves in 1983.
The city is better known for its temples, ritual, culture... but the first thing I did there was geek out over their news coverage. I have a good excuse. The story of the day came to me, outside my hotel not long after check-in. On my first walkabout around the block I saw the familiar sight of a live truck. It was more rugged, with a fluid-dropping generator hanging out the side, but it was beaming back a sat signal and a live report.
These are my first snapshots from India:
Within two hours at least a half dozen other crews joined the swarm of Indian journalists. A former prime minister was scheduled to make an appearance and everyone was waiting to hear from him. It was something surprisingly familiar in a very foreign land. But it wasn't exactly American TV news.
Take a look at the footage I shot of the Indian news crews in action:
By the way even during breaking news the morning meditation continues (perhaps the story is he just reached nirvana?)
Obviously a few things are very different from American TV news. From a news gathering standpoint the first thing that stands out is crew size - FOUR people teams! That's right: a reporter (1), photographer (2), a technician (3) and a truck driver (4)! I saw no MMJs or one person crews in India.
In a typical day I work as a one person show and front my story live from the studio, or meet a photographer in the field thirty minutes before air after I've shot and edited my daily story. So the idea of four person teams is very different. There were a lot of people just sitting around (don't tell their news director).
I could have easily described them as "four man teams" because I saw no females working this story. Not a single one. That's another major difference. Also there were very few, if any, media relations "handlers." The event was for the most part a free-for-all, which would never be the case at a similar large scale American news event.
What I did see that's exactly the same as in America was the use of TVU, a cell-signal powered backpack that beams live video to the control room and eventually living rooms (and meditation rooms) everywhere. This is the same device we use almost daily to go live in the U.S.
They had the same mic flag. The same stance. The same general shots typical of American TV news. I wish I could comment on their coverage, but none were reporting in English.
One more similarity... all the journalists seemed to be in a mood somewhere between stressed out and bored. It's a combo I've seen on the faces of my competitors as we all gather at American "news events" like this one.
As for the Indian public's opinion of journalists, the reporters I spoke with all had one word to describe how they were perceived: "Respected."
Jeremy Campbell is an ATLien, storyteller, traveler... & often all three at once.