What is this WhatsApp Journalism?

Respected Sir/Madam/Others

I already told you that I don’t like Dr. Shankaramenon. And today evening that fellow came running to my house and was jumping up and down and saying that we have to go to the registrar’s office right now. After drinking a sip of filter coffee from my pithalai lota (for a doctor, he has no idea of hygiene), he showed me a WhatsApp forward which had an official document saying that everyone should link their Aadhaar number with all the property transactions they did from 1950, or it will be attached under the benami act.

And very soon some more websites and channels were saying the same thing and how this can eliminate fakery and corruption etc. etc. until the govt. itself said the news is fake. Did I tell you that I worked in the tamilnadu state govt. before? In those days we never denied news we leaked because the press knew that if we said no, it is a yes. And in those days, they used to work very hard for finding news as they had to press the news in a paper to print it. But nowadays they behave like Dr.Shankaramenon.

He not only forwards all rubbish he gets from someone else, but also adds his own rubbish on top of it. I can understand that jobless old nut bolt doing it, but cannot understand why even the press is doing it, including your esteemed paper.

Ever since one Mr.Nilekani convinced our govt. that there are plenty of fake people in the country, I only hear about fake fellows in ration cards, pan cards, school lunch, job cards, gas cards and so on. I mean if there are really so many fake fellows in our country, how come no one tells me, why I see so many real people wherever I go?

Sir/Madam/others, one thing i did learn in all my years of govt. service is that we are really good in one thing, where no one beats us, is the business of producing real people. My computer educated son tells me that the machine Mr.Nilekani invented can tell apart real people from fake people and is a technological marvel. I wonder now, if the hospital did a switche-roo in the birth ward. Can my idiot son, not understand that if a person presses his/her finger in that machine and the machine says he is not that person once in ten times, the machine is fake, but not the human?

Coming back to your paper, a May 2017 (written by a special correspondent it seems) article says that this fake remover technology removed 60 Lakhs bogus ration cards out of 1.95 Crore cards, meaning fake:real is 1:3. But sir/madam/others, since I am old, I actually watch Loksabha news a lot and there is this thing called question hour, where any MP can ask questions and on 22.11.2016, starred question 93, govt. says, it is only 7 lakhs and sundry including all reasons.

In our days, if we had claimed that a scheme generated 53 Lakh fake cards in 6 months, no newspaper would have believed us. Sir/Madam/others, What do they teach journalists you hire these days? Is it that hard for them to understand that fake it since you can’t make it is not only how Meg Ryan does it (Don’t tell I watched that film to Mrs.Mathrubootham), but also all governments? Reporting harry meets sally story as it is and reporting govt. number story as it is means, movie beat journalist is now doing economic stories.

I heard that a young chap called zoe-berg has a site called book face or something, which is eating newspapers, and no one reads them anymore and all that, but surely it can’t be this bad? or is it?

And then my very learned, harvard educated daughter-in-law tells me that almost every one reads only headlines nowadays because attention span is becoming less due to overload of brains. I kept my mouth shut because the less attention I pay to her, the happier my life is. But seriously this is idiotic.

In our times also, there were more news sources than your esteemed news paper including my gossipy neighbour one Mrs. Ambujam, whose husband by the way was deaf and who always inflated her filter coffee making skills but we learned to ignore her. Coming back to headlines, I recently saw this on your paper:

Sir/Madam/Others, since I am retired and jobless except reading all newspapers on the association library, I asked the fellows who wrote this on twitter to correct it and one person oddly called teekkhai said:

May I ask how is this teek hai? Don’t all the millennials (new name for teenagers with attention disorder deficit created by harmonal imbalance) read nothing but the headlines? Since your esteemed magazine already reported way back on August 2016, that more than half of this number is blatantly false?

I know that in govt. not only right hand does not know what left hand does. But Sir/Madam/others, your esteemed news paper does not even seem to know how many hands it has because that teekkhai fellow does not know that your esteemed newspaper already covered it and hence has somewhere (hidden) institutional memory about that topic.

And finally this WhatsApp journalism excuse. We are just repeating what the government says. Sir/Madam/Others, we already have All India Radio, Doordarshan, TV channels, Press information Bureau for that and Dr.Shankaramenon, Mrs.Ambujam for adding their own chicory on top of the chicanery they get from others.

And then yesterday, your esteemed paper’s reader’s editor says we need meticulous reporting and should examine in depth. I doubt if people listen to him in your news paper.

But like I promised, I am sending this to the reader’s editor. When the government says, we don’t have body rights and SC sits on the Article 21 challenge for years, thus effectively suspending it, like it did in the times of emergency, a bit of institutional memory on this important topic is really required.

After all unlike my idiot son, who keeps trying to authenticate himself using his fingerprint to enter his own bedroom and fails 10% of the time, or like my harvard educated learned daughter-in-law who claims that the IRIS scanner in the kitchen does not authenticate her eyes during week ends and uses that as an excuse, not to help Mrs.Mathrubootham, your esteemed paper is 127 years old.

You have seen everything: Rajas, Ranis, Nizams, Wazirs, Divans, Democracy, Mobocracy, Crazy, Very Crazy and probably even the remnants of the East India Company.

It is time you stop doing Dr.Shankaramenon and Mrs.Ambujam type of reporting on the Aadhaar India Company.

Yours Truly Exasperated
J. Mathrubootham