Sridevi and Syria: How Indian media ‘killed’ news

The TV media’s frantic reporting on veteran actress Sridevi’s death has angered many people in the country. While the veteran actress passed away late Saturday night, the sudden death of Sridevi Kapoor was in itself a shocking but what was insensitive of the TV media the coverage veered into a gossip.

The TV media skipped the news of Syria bombing and gave an entire prime-time slot for creating conspiracy theories as in how the 54-year-old actress died in the bathtub of her Dubai hotel room. While the theories of Sridevi’s death had no substantial proofs, the theories were based on entirely unsubstantiated conjecture.

The UNSC on Saturday unanimously backed a 30-day ceasefire resolution in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations. But fighting continued in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area of Syria during the first daily five-hour “pause” ordered by the government’s ally Russia.

But the media had no time to even mention this as it was busy it was busy creating baseless theories. Well, all lines were crossed when a Hindi TV news channel dedicated a entire episode naming it as “Maut ka Bathtub”, while most of the news channel were running their own version of their conspiracy theories, how can Arnab Goswami not dedicate an entire prime time for his take on the incident? It took no time for him to draw parallels with Sunanda Pushkar’s death.

While the Syria war continued on Tuesday, regime airstrikes and shell-firing continued in Eastern Ghouta in Syria with no signs of stoppage despite United Nations Security Council’s call for a 30-day ceasefire, according to Syrian civil defence sources. As a result, there were no UN aid deliveries or medical evacuations. Medics say more than 500 people have been killed since the government intensified its bombardment nine days ago in an attempt to retake the enclave.


What exactly happened in siege of Eastern Ghouta, Fighting was reported by monitors including the UN after the Russian-ordered pause began on Tuesday. The situation meant that humanitarian convoys could not go in, and medical evacuees could not come out, UN officials said. The World Health Organisation said it had a list of more than 1,000 critically sick and wounded people who urgently needed to be evacuated. The situation in the Eastern Ghouta was comparatively calm early on Tuesday. However, a man was killed by shellfire in the rebel-held town of Douma before the pause started.


The monitoring group also reported a number of violations in the five hours that followed, including air strikes by government planes and helicopters, and artillery shelling was continued. The Syrian state news agency, Sana, reported that “terrorists” had shelled the route of the humanitarian corridor leading to the government-controlled al-Wafideen checkpoint, which is north-east of Douma, and were using “human shields”. Russian media said not a single civilian had left the besieged area as a result.

In the past eight months, regime forces have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment. Since February 19, escalating hostilities have resulted in 500 deaths and some 1,500 injuries in Eastern Ghouta, with 24 health facilities impacted by shelling and airstrikes, according to UN officials.

But all the siege that went in Syria, was not important to Indian TV news channels, and Sridevi’s death brought the worst out of the Indian media, and crossed the line between journalism and exploitation. After which it became impossible to turn on TV news without witnessing conspiracy theories. The Indian TV news channels for past two days used Sridevi’s demise to gain higher TRPs. And ignored what happened in Syria, which was based on facts and figures.

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