The team which led this effort includes Anjali Sharma, Amritika Phool, Smita Joshi, Varsha, Amit Chaudhary, Elizabeth Zurl & others (The Team).
On 6th April 2011 The Team heard of a program on air on RedFM 93.5. The program was on ‘Delhi’s Dangerous Stray Dogs’ and was asking people to call in and share their ‘experiences’ with stray dogs and asking for ‘solutions’ to handle the ‘stray dog problem in Delhi’.
- The ‘solutions’ from the callers ranged from ‘eliminating stray dogs’ to ‘moving stray dogs to shelters outside the city’ to ‘relocating stray dogs’.
- Many callers objected to dogs being fed in their localities.
By the time this information got passed around and more sympathetic voices from Delhi started calling in, RedFM 93.5 stopped taking calls ‘as the program was over for the day’.
The team then started calling in RedFM 93.5’s management team. Anjali called Rohit Lal, General Manager RedFM 93.5’s, and gave him some background about community dogs, how to control their numbers, the law, court orders etc. Rohit Lall got Pallavi Gupta, programming head, to call back. The same information was given to Pallavi but Pallavi was very persistent about the continuation of the program, and defensive about the ‘solutions’ pouring in, including that all community dogs should be in shelters. She confirmed that the program will be on air for 3 days.
The team spearheaded the awareness of this programming in a wider population. More and more people started calling, wrote and sms’d about this objectionable programming to RedFM 93.5. Many altered their Facebook status to ‘Boycott Red FM’. Rana Barua, CEO RedFM 93.5’s got a call from Mrs Menaka Gandhi calling in protest. With this vociferous protest the tide turned. Callers later in the day were told that the program has been taken off the air.
This event goes on to show that concerted effort can manage the misinformed reporting from some sections. But it throws up interesting questions too:
- Is there a correlation between effectiveness of this approach and the type of media?
- Was this more effective because this was electronic media, and perhaps more sensitive to a push back from the stray dog community since the event is unfolding from all sides simultaneously (calls, social networking). The print media many times carries a worse bias and is impervious to relevant data and reason.
Feel free to comment on (the web page) on managing similar disinformation in the print media.