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06/24/2013

Indian journalist sits on shoulders of villager during flood coverage, draws criticism

 India's fast-growing media sector has been a force for positive change in so many instances.

In 1991, India had just one TV channel - state-owned Doordarshan.

Today, there are literally hundreds of all-news channels broadcasting in dozens of local languages and dialects and as media companies mature, the sector is seeing its share of growing pains.

But then, growing pains aside, there are just plain screw-ups, like a recent one that has much of India talking.

A reporter for New Express TV channel. perhaps looking for a way to spice up his broadcast while covering flooding in Uttarakhand region, where more than 1,000 have died, coaxed a local villager to stand in a flooded street with the reporter high and dry, sitting atop his shoulders.

Screen shot 2013-06-23 at 7.03.49 PM

The clip has gone viral and provoked an outpouring of criticism aimed at the journalist.

On a Facebook page made to highlight and discuss the controversy, a reader named Sandeep Goel wrote: "This guy should be barred from reporting. the Channel should throw him out of the job immediately if they think they are sensitive to humans..."

Not everyone was quick to judge the reporter.

Another reader, using the nickname DefinedPerception wrote: "You must admire his dedication. News reporters in the US would never go to these extreme and admirable lengths to report life or death news in real time."

Right.

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead

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