Watch list

I spotted this on Twitter just now:

And I recalled this:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday described as historic the signing of an accord between the government and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM).

Mr. Modi, who was present at the signing of the accord, said the Nagaland political issue had lingered for six decades, taking a huge toll on generations of our people.

The thing is, it is not like the government deceived anyone back in August last year — it was clear at the time that only a Framework Agreement had been signed. Converting that into a full-fledged “accord” was lazy journalistic shorthand.

That said, the Twitter post reminded me how easily important events are overshadowed by more recent ones; how, in this age of information overload, we forget too much, too soon. And how we rarely, if ever, follow up.

The good editors keep ‘watch lists’. Nikhil Lakshman, currently editor in chief of Rediff (and my editor for 20 years, thru Indian Post, Mid Day, Sunday Observer, Rediff and India Abroad) has this habit honed to a T. When he read a story one of us had done, he’d think of logical follow-ups, put appropriate dates against them, and scribble notes to himself on a sheet of paper he kept refreshing daily. We reporters would, more often than not, forget and move on to other things, but not he — you came in to office and no matter how early you were, you found on your desk a series of notes along the lines of ‘Will you be following up on …? When? Please advise.’ Just one more of the best practices we, the media, have moved away from.

For instance, in the furor over JNU, we’ve forgotten the probe into the Rohit Vemula suicide: Has Judge (Retd) Ashok Kumar Roopanwal, the one-man commission appointed last month by the HRD ministry completed its probe into Vemula’s suicide and submitted his report? What does it say?

So: if you guys were editors, what would your list of questions that need to be followed up look like? What do you wish the media had reported on, but hasn’t? Chuck them into the comments field when time permits, and let’s see if we can get someone to pay attention.

 

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