Usually media posts reports which are typically titled “How Twitter reacted to XYZ”, today let us play the same game on media and let us see how Media reacted to#ChennaiFloods.
In the past 24 hours, Chennai, one of the four metropolitan cities of India has been struck with severe rains which have thrown normal life out of gear. Reports suggest that the rains in Chennai have broken a 100 year record and the result is there for all to be seen. Roads and streets are flooded with water levels reaching heights which are enough to submerge vehicles.
In such a grave scenario, many individuals from social media formed coordination groups to provide any sort of help possible to the flood affected in Chennai. A group of driven social media users, have launched a site called chennairains.org. Beside a list of shelters and useful contact details, the website even has a ‘Rescue Form,’ which asks for your contact details, number of people, type of emergency and other details, which is then forwarded to the authorities.
While Social media was trying its best, Mainstream media was once again found sleeping. Users woke up to abysmal coverage of the deluge in Indian newspapers:
— Trendulkar (@Trendulkar) December 2, 2015
— Shilpa Rathnam (@shilparathnam) December 2, 2015
While papers like Times of India and Hindustan Times had reserved a small corner on the front page, Indian Express did not consider it fit to carry anything related to it on the front page.
Meanwhile social media was carrying on all possible efforts to help the people in Chennai. Probably this forced Mainstream Media to start covering this issue, but again, the efforts were not up to the mark. The hashtag #ChennaiRainsHelp for designed specifically for tweets which offered or asked for help, but MSM began abusing this:
— k (@krazyfrog) December 2, 2015
And CNN IBN could not stop itself from boasting, even when misusing this hashtag.
Again, misuse of a hashtag created by Twitter India specifically for help. pic.twitter.com/PhYOQFhsMT
— Karthik Srinivasan (@beastoftraal) December 2, 2015
If that was not enough, The Hindu, which is head quartered in Chennai itself began spreading misinformation in the form of outdated pictures. It tweeted pictures of 2013, when Delhi had face flood like situation and tried to pass them off as pictures of #ChennaiFloods.
Not only the official handle, but even Editor of The Hindu also joined in, tweeting some pictures, in the hope of getting a few quick Retweets possibly. These tweets were later deleted when users pointed out the obvious.
The problem with such misrepresentation is that people can be misled into believing that such a situation actually exists in their locality and this may cause panic.