24 September, 2020

A Harvester Of The Objectionable

Scotching the urge to self-censor, the press must report ‘bad news’—to guard the guards, empower the citizen, and usher in change

Illustration by Sorit
A Harvester Of The Objectionable
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

When you open a newspaper, or switch on the television, and there’s nothing but good news, it’s time to start worrying about what they’re not telling you. Nobody likes bad news, but the world is full of it. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise: they want your vote or your money, or for you to look the other way.

Whenever this question comes up, I am reminded of an incident in Tamil Nadu when I was covering the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami for The Independent. I had just emerged from a press conference given by the chief secretary of the state when I saw a small group of demonstrators outside, and sent my translator over to find out what they were protesting about. Just then the chief secretary herself came out, saw my translator and started berating him angrily in Tamil.

In those days I was still fairly new to India, and more used to reporting in places like the Middle East and Pakistan—places where a translator who attracts the ire of a senior government official is in peril of his...

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