26th November — The day the news died

My dad and I, we have had a ritual ever since a LCD screen came into our home, watching news. This was uncanny for someone who is pursuing engineering to see business news along with national news. What could I comprehend of business news? Never understood stocks or mergers or economic progress or the lack of it and using all these jargon of parameters, but it was fun. National news would take up most part of the hour. It would just mean catching up with stupid politicians, some corrupt businessman, a calamity somewhere, just the usual stuff.

Then came the worst day humanity had faced since 11th September, the 26th November. The Gateway of India wouldn’t have seen such a crowd after its inaugural, swarm of reporters, uniformed men from all walks of the military and police standing outside. Back home we were glued to the television like never before, our eyes were popping out. My mom had just wished that let it be two rich kids shooting each other.

A lot of things changed that night and the news was among them. A debate that night changed it all. There was Suhel Seth ripping apart the politicians with one vicious line after the other, mouthing the perfect sentences laced with our sentiments and anger and then that day on wards, debate had captured the eye of the nation. “The nation demands an answer” was the premiering statement every 10 PM or was it 9. It was fun for a while, the whole shebang of Arnab screaming and politicians faltering. It was great to see people in power faltering to answer some tough questions. Soon the questions started faltering and the ratings went up, that’s when shit hit the fan.

Every news channel now has a debate show, hosted by their Prima donna who is in charge of two things, shouting and asking questions that increase the shouting. Sense is out, sensational is in. The debate broils down into a shouting match about who is right and not what is the truth. More often than not people deviate from the point and end up bashing each other on some irrelevant thing.

What’s wrong with a little debate?

The whole concept of debate isn’t what is right, it is about who can assert himself better than the other. What’s your takeaway from a debate, the facts or the arguments? Mostly the latter wins and remains in the putrid brain of ours. In this society where the sources for information are many, but mostly each source tries to boil down complex news/issues into a “meme format”. Something that is entertaining and “shareworthy”. In this information age the democracy is now getting dumber than smarter. News websites are not better than listicle propelling-shit for brains- re-purposing websites that simply cut-copy-paste someone else’s thought/work. But at least they don’t market themselves as a news portal.

The strength of a democracy depends on the informed voters and the fourth estate of democracy is doing a disservice to the people.

Can we just get back to news and bring facts to the table?

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