BENGALURU: I studied journalism in my Masters, and began my career by writing articles for a newspaper. I have been running this column for five years, and begin every day by reading the newspaper. When we finished our courses, there was also the option of joining a TV news channel. I gave it a shot, and attended a few interviews with news scrolling up the anxietyinducing teleprompter. It didn’t take me long to realise that I wasn’t cut out for TV journalism.
The constant panic, the lights and cameras – were too much for my old soul to take. In the end, I am glad I decided to stick to print journalism. Getting your news off a newspaper might seem redundant in today’s times - with social media and news apps dripping news into your system like shots of dopamine. But in my proud opinion, there are a number of benefits to getting news from a newspaper. For one, the newspaper is not trying to arouse passions and stoke fires. The editor of a newspaper isn’t shouting in your face. Head journalists aren’t dealing in petty accusations and insinuations.
You’ll never find yourself reading a newspaper and your BP shooting up. The humble newspaper delivers your news to you, and then is willing to be used as a wrapper for pakodi. As a print journalist, I have to admit my general disappointment with the TV news industry. If you’re a youngster, you should know it wasn’t always like this. Back in the days of Doordarshan, news was rationed out - three times a day, like capsules ordered by the friendly, neighbourhood doctor. All the news of the world was summarised into 15-minute slots, neatly divided into politics, world, economics and sports.
Back in the days of Doordarshan, there was no ‘breaking’ news. News didn’t ‘break’ - it gently floated through the airwaves, travelled through the antennae installed on top of houses, and reached audiences in a civilised manner. The news readers of Doordarshan had the calmness of Buddhist monks. They could sit in the middle of a cyclone and update you on the latest happenings in the Rajya Sabha. The 2000s weren't too bad either. Debates did not resemble rugby matches, and anchors did not need to roar like Prakash Raj in a commercial potboiler. The prime minister would give interviews to news channels, and they would be conducted with grace, incisiveness and dignity.
It was sometime in the previous decade that things began to look bleak. With the abundance of platforms, and news being available on the internet and on social media, we imported western notions of news like paparazzi. We all got to witness the ugly face of TV news last year, with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Conspiracy theories, mud-slinging, accusations – it was an all-time low.
The tragic part of it all was that we were in the midst of a global pandemic. Reports were flowing in of daily deaths, and there was an air of panic. We used the lockdown to become Sherlock Holmes! With the recent death of a TV star, it is a repeat of the same motions – journalists outside funerals, and conspiracies flying like kites, and a star-struck nation lapping it all up. It does make me ashamed to call myself a journalist. I have no message to deliver, dear reader. All I mean to say is congratulations on picking up a newspaper today. You might not have news bytes darting at you from the stratosphere – but you’re guaranteed more peace of mind when compared to those who get news delivered as dopamine shots! (The writer’s opinions are his own)