During the Mumbai attacks we tried to highlight resources for journalists and others. Our goal now is to look at some of the coverage itself. We asked a few questions of Madhulika Sikka, the Deputy Executive Producer of NPR's Morning Edition (see below). The show (independent of other NPR programming) has an audience of about 13 million people, making it the most listened-to radio program in America, after the Rush Limbaugh show.
NPR's coverage was anchored by Philip Reeves, its New Delhi correspondent. Here are some of his reports from Mumbai and its aftermath (full list here), ending with his earliest reports:
- In India, Anger Grows At Response To Attacks (Dec. 2)
- India, Pakistan Relations Hurt By Mumbai Attack
- Security In Mumbai: An Impossible Task?
- India Reeling From Mumbai Rampage
- Mumbai Siege Ends With Gunmen's Deaths (Nov. 29)
- In Mumbai, Militant Violence Not Quelled
- Indian Commandos Try To Oust Gunmen
- Indian Forces Continue Battle With Mumbai Gunmen
- Toll In Mumbai Attacks Expected To Rise (Nov. 26)
But NPR also turned to a number of Mumbai writers and other commentators to round out its coverage:
- Suketu Mehta: "Mumbai is India's New York"
- Filmmaker Smriti Mundra & Journalist Sara Rajan: "Witnesses describe attacks on Mumbai"
- Sandip Roy: "Mumbai Attacker's photo haunts commentator"
- Sree Sreenivasan: "Technology helps speed Mumbai web call-in show" (ie., SAJAforum's webcasts)
- Shobhaa De: "Columnist: Mumbai bigger than terror attack"
- Vikram Chandra "Mumbai terrorist attacks echo an Indian novel"
- Shashi Tharoor "Mumbai stands out from other terror attacks"
- Madhulika Sikka's written piece: "Why the location of the Mumbai attacks matters"
In response to a few of our questions, Madhulika gave us a window into NPR's work, in coordinating its reporters and commentators from around the world:
On the overall coverage:
We approached this as we would any breaking news story, try and provide the most up-to-date information we could (on a major holiday I might add), but also provide some context. This was complicated by the fact that it was an ongoing story that lasted three days and obviously it was
Morning Edition was fortunate to have access to our Delhi-based reporter, Phil Reeves who was on the scene by Thursday morning in time for our air. In addition (compared to many other broadcast outlets) we cover South Asia fairly extensively on a regular basis which gives us an advantage in terms of having hosts and a staff with some basic knowledge and understanding of the region.
On combining reportage with commentary:
Over the course of several days we thought some context became increasingly important, hence the outreach to people like Suketu Mehta and Shobhaa De, Bombayites who could give us some sense of place. Shashi Tharoor provided a perspective beyond just Bombay/Mumbai. And of course Vikram Chandra, who we had interviewed 2 years ago when "Sacred Games" was published, was a wonderful voice to go to and discuss the intersection of art and real life.
On the medium:
Radio has some huge advantages over television of course, most especially the fact that we move quickly to get something on the air without pictures! There is often an intimacy that radio can provide to a story that television misses. I'm quite proud of the range of voices on our air. We had lots of South Asian voices on, something many people have commented on.
SAJAforum is in touch with other media outlets as well, in hopes of getting more accounts from producers, editors and reporters who were on the ground. Let us know if you'd be willing to share your story.
[For the record, I do some freelance for NPR, including one report on the Muslim response to the attacks in New York, but I am employed by WNYC, which is often considered part of NPR but is in fact a separate entity]