08 March, 2021

Idiot Sheets?

Does the media still offer a moral principle —the sense of a society talking to itself — or has it completed the descent to pure commerce? The captains of Fleet Street introspect on the consecration of trivia.

The Hindu
Idiot Sheets?

Truth poses a problem. "Can you switch off the recorder for a moment?" The off-the-record moment has arrived. Even top editors, publishers, channel heads and proprietors of media organisations have something to say off the record. "Don’t quote me on this one, but..."

It’s a difficult time to be a journalist in India. The "hit-and-run media", as the PM recently said, is tripping on its own speed. Some stories are reported even when they don’t happen while others must never be told. News must be both event and spectacle. True but not necessarily honest. Fearless but funny. Cutting edge but glamorous. Equalising but leaning towards the privileged. Nationwide is Delhi and Mumbai. Be balanced, don’t get ideologically involved.Even if that means being neutral between the arsonist and the firefighter.

As journalists and proprietors search for what lies betwixt good news is news and bad news is no news, casualties have begun mounting in Indian newsrooms. Truth, as the cliche asserts, is the first. But the list of injuries is...

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