The Sure Race to Stupid

Headley, Copenhagen, Liberhan, Telangana have dominated the news for days, weeks interspersed with some impassioned rhetoric on Naxalism, regionalism, and whatever trivial comments Rahul Gandhi makes at some university or about landing his chopper in poor visibility etc. Is it really possible that a country of India’s size, diversity and development challenges, will have such paucity of newsworthy events/issues that we would need to devote primetime news to watching a tour of Headley’s mom’s bar in Philadelphia? No, of course not. Neither is the Indian viewer so obsessed with the above that any addition to the meager portfolio will prompt a mass exodus from the trailblazing news channel. The real reason is that focus on limited topics and their endless regurgitation is the lowest cost business model for all news media.

All news channels do the following: report event; interview main protagonists; discuss event to death with talking heads/public. Given that all news channels will report the same 4-5 events, the first step requires no intellect. The latter two require little money or preparation – generate programming on the fly with precious little waste in editing. News channels like to differentiate themselves on the last two, by calling it “analysis”. And the public is so appallingly ill-informed, that we actually welcome the 101 fresher course with background information and basic interpretation to help talk pseudo-intelligently about reported events. For the idiot savant public, not only will they tell us the topics to think about, they will also tell us what to think about said topics.

Cue the shepherd; the sheep are ready.

Also read: Power and Fluff

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