chapter  3
The fatal snare of proximity: live television, new media and the witnessing of Mumbai attacks
BySangeet Kumar
Pages 17

The attacks in Mumbai on 26 November 2008, while hardly the biggest in terms of loss of life, are a singularly crucial case study for analysing the role of live television in covering a spectacularly violent event in the current era. During the 3-day stand-off between the attackers and the security forces, the Indian and international news media stood witness and transmitted the action live even as the mayhem continued within. The television coverage was as chaotic as the event itself, and with no coherent media strategy in place and little self-regulation by journalists, the live coverage spanning nearly 72 hours descended into a litany of errors, with fatal consequences for the hostages. Driven by the goal of consolidating viewership in a brutally competitive market, television channels vied to outdo each other in the firm belief that their audiences wanted the closest shot of the action (dead bodies and all), detailed testimonies from hapless victims and a minute-by-minute update on the killings.