May 29, 2008

Pisa's leaning tower 'stabilized'

And How!

While at Pisa in Italy, I did my own thing and tried my hand at stabilizing the Leaning Tower of Pisa… only for the sake of this Kodak moment that you see above. I am happy that it has finally stopped moving for the first time in its 800-year-history - and of course - not due to my efforts, but, because of those engineers who have worked on it for years.

Reports say, that the man in charge of the team monitoring the 26m euros (£20m; $40m) project has confirmed that the tower should remain stable for at least another 200 years. It took the team more than 10 years to stabilize the tower. The work involved extracting some 70 tonnes of earth from the northern side to encourage the tower to right itself. The tower continued to move towards a more upright position when the work finished. Now, though - seven years later and 48cm (19in) straighter - hi-tech monitors embedded in the soil beneath its foundations and in the tower itself show that it has stopped moving completely. Even while it was being built, in the late 12th Century, workers noticed that it was starting to tilt. Their attempts to compensate resulted in the completed tower, being very slightly bent. As if to underline the success of the project, the leaning tower recently lost its title as the world's wonkiest piece of architecture to the steeple of a small church in Germany.

May 26, 2008

Shooting under Fire

May 25, 2008

I am a hardcore news journalist who loves to report in 90 seconds – a documentary and the likes of news have never been my forte. But a day spent at the Reuter's headquarters in Canary Wharf, London sometime in August, last year – changed my perception on documentary making. My friend Pawan Bali loves documentaries and will eventually venture into it sometime in the future. Her stern interest in this subject always befuddled me but I was in for a revelation. A screening of a 72 minute documentary on Reuters's cameramen and photographers in the war torn Gaza strip made me sit upright and understand the nuances of what a good documentary is and what it can do, unlike those shown in the name of documentaries on the Indian news channels.

Would like to share some part of this very interesting and must watch documentary. From its story to its camera work and for its climax – Every single nuance is so beautiful; dipped in the essence of pain.

SHOOTING UNDER FIRE – is the story where Reinhard Krause, the German head of the Reuters Israeli photo bureau is up against a deadline and facing a moral dilemma. He's looking at a photo that shows the head of the female suicide bomber still perfectly in tact lying on the ground, severed cleanly from her body without a blemish on her face and with no blood to be seen. Does he decide to show this to the world or keep it hidden? "Every picture must tell a story" Reinhard says and it's clear what happened with this frame, but is the world ready for this kind of image? He needs to decide within minutes. Welcome to the everyday difficulties of depicting a story that keeps rolling on with new horrors. This film joins Reinhard during the last few weeks of his 4 year placement in Israel and unveils the people and the pressured process of a news agency producing the photos we see in papers around the world. Reinhard single-handedly revolutionized how photos are taken and reported upon in Israel and is now working with a well-oiled team made up of both Palestinians and Israelis, many of whom still have never met, as freedom of movement is restricted for everyone. Both sides of the war report to the same person. Reinhard's team reports on atrocities most days and each of them has found different ways to cope with the stress of what they are witnessing. Gil, an Israeli photographer breaks down on camera after covering an emotional funeral saying that sometimes he feels like an animal chasing after the shots. Ahmed, a Palestinian who was nearly killed when on the job knows that it's his duty to show the world what is really going on in Gaza and lives and breathes his job. Nir, a young talented photographer in Tel Aviv has learnt to separate the day job and his leisure time and blocks off what he doesn't want to think about. Abed, a resident in the anarchic West Bank town of Nablus has become a spokesman for local journalists even though he's had to endure 90 days of curfew before. All of them won't change their job for love nor money. This film gets behind the world's oldest news agency to show how the news is made and reported on, from the first ambulance text of an accident in Jerusalem to the front page of the papers the next morning. Few of us stop to think how our stories and pictures come to us. With unprecedented access Shooting under Fire shows us the full process, highlighting the staggeringly fast digital technology, the difficult morals that await even the toughest of snappers, and the extreme lives that people lead in a land in war.

May 23, 2008

Breaking News: Exclusive!

“Media... - They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent...”

The question always seems to be - What is our jurisdiction and who is it that sets the limit for media to report a crime story? Broadcast Journalists from News Channel in India seem to have lost all restraint… as there are no set guidelines. The ‘Breaking News’ phenomenon has clutched the Indian media’s throat and doesn't look likes its going to let go soon enough. My short stint with BBC in Bristol showed me a different side of media… I had to go through 50 pages of offcom regulations and guidelines on what to do and what not to do while reporting crime stories. Once the police take over the crime scene – the media is set off limits and is not allowed to probe or investigate into the matter on its own. It could and would report only what police confirms.

Whereas in India; it’s been the other way around. News channels go ahead and report, investigate and cook up their own analysis behind the facade of social justice. The most ‘happening’ (pun intended) and recent story that’s been manhandled by the media is the Arushi murder case in Delhi... Media played a major role in exposing police in-competency but while doing so, it crossed all boundaries of investigation. Personal detectives were bought on to the scene – Courtesy News channels who conducted a probe into the murder mystery. Was it justified? I really appreciate what NDTV did. - It issued a statement saying it will report only what the police confirms and would not station reporters in front of the crime scene in respect of the privacy of the victim’s family. It’s been a high profile case no doubt, but is high time the Channels understand their role. Being a Broadcast Journalist myself, I understand the circumstances given to which reports are made, nevertheless the Big Bosses need to realize that reporters on field are not experts in reporting crime stories and floating out speculations don’t do good. They just hamper the investigation and unnecessarily pressurize the investigating team and the viewers, derailing and confusing them with the different versions of the same case on different channels.

If, the so called National News Channels claim that their strategy is correct; then who is it that should be held responsible for ‘wrong’ reporting? - For example; in the Jaipur serial blasts case; where one channel claimed that it had exclusive reports of RDX being used in the explosion, the reports that have emerged now say that no RDX was found. Funny? There’s more! Similarly while one channel was showing a video of the cycle being used in the case as genuine, at the same time… another top news channel was reporting as fake. Whom to believe? Its time to stop fooling and drilling people’s minds with ‘Exclusives” and “Breaking News” Its time to showcase News with sincerity and faith; keeping in mind… Our responsibility towards society...