Reporter Fired for Covering Flood Atop Victim’s Shoulders in India

Seeking a better angle to show the disaster in Uttarakhand state, he took journalism to perilous new heights

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Television reporter Narayan Pargaien is defending his decision to mount a flood victim and report a live story atop his shoulders, but his employer, News Express, is not letting him off that easy. The reporter was fired Tuesday after footage of him in the unlikely position went viral on YouTube, the Washington Post reports.

The veteran reporter told the Indian media website News Laundry that the man carrying him had asked him to report on the damage his home suffered in Uttarakhand state, northeast of New Delhi. What’s more, Pargaien blamed his cameraman both for shooting at an angle that revealed his perch as well as for uploading the footage in the first place. The story did not appear on News Express.

“I have no problem getting my feet wet. But I was offered help and he was quite insistent so I complied,” he told the site. While he faults his cameraman for uploading the story, Pargaien also shoulders some responsibility. “See, I do agree I was wrong as well,” he said. “That was the wrong thing to do, and the wrong time to have shot that sequence.”

The reporter’s former employer is not as forgiving. After firing him, the television outfit issued a statement that said what Pargaien had done was “not just inhuman but was also against the culture” of the organization.

The footage may have been a lapse in judgement, but it underscores a greater disparity of income inequality and class division in India. Meanwhile, more than 800 people have died in the harrowing floods, which swept parts of northern India 10 days ago.