Wednesday, June 28, 2006

BMP on love-hate relationship with media

BMP on love-hate relationship with media
New Indian Express

BANGALORE: The public relations officer of Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) was shunted out last month apparently for not "ensuring" that critical news stories were not written.

And in last two months, the top officials were busy seeking media support by holding the elected body at BMP responsible for all the ills.

Interestingly, in the last two months, the mayor’s office did not send even a single press release but the “media savvy” commissioner was in limelight. And suddenly, the BMP press releases have become unusually witty.

"The flood photograph shows ankle-deep water, not neck-deep trouble," one release stated after the civic body was taken to task for its unpreparedness to handle rain damage.

Curiously even councillors fear to talk critically of BMP officials now. "Whenever we were quoted in the media for criticising Jairaj or his decisions, there were efforts to silence us," said a councillor.

But has Jairaj been busy getting the media in his favour? Has there been an attempt to malign the elected body? Former mayor M Ramachandrappa, who was a mayor during Jairaj’s previous tenure at BMP says that it is the media that should exercise care in such matters.

"While it is not advisable for any official to be hungry for publicity, the media should also be cautious. Publicity gained on the basis of fabricated facts without good performance would soon backfire," he cautioned.

Publicity-mongers are extremely happy with BMP these days - what with closed-door meetings at Urban Health Research Centre and exclusive one-to-one meetings with the top brass of the civic body.

But, Mayor Mumtaz Begum has her reservations. She said: "Going all out to block critical reporting is not done even by the politicians. It is not papers that make or break you, it is your work that matters," she said.


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