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How ‘news’ became ‘interesting’

March 6, 2009

Our friend, like all stringers, would send Lucknow a lot of stories but all would go waste. A story a month, at the most, just a thousand bucks. Something interesting, get something interesting, the input editor on the other side of the mobile phone would say.

And the politician would say, you never get me air time. So one day he went to the politician and offered him a deal. Look, he said, you don’t get air time because you say boring things like jihad is not the same as terrorism. Why don’t you say something interesting for a change, so it gets aired and I make money!

Like what, asked the politician.

Just say that that Danish cartoonist who has made drawings of the Prophet, you will reward with Rs. 1 crore anyone who gets you his head.

But why will anyone bring the head all the way to UP, asked the politician.

For Rs. one crore, replied the stringer.

But where will I get a crore from?

But you don’t have to! See, nobody’s going to get you his head and you are not giving anyone a rupee. So what goes of your father to announce the award? It will make a big story. International media will pick it up. “Indian politician announces award for Danish cartoonist’s head”. Then Lucknow will ask me to do follow-up.

And so the politician did.

Our friend was richer by a thousand bucks, and so were all the other stringers who had to do follow-ups on their smart colleague’s exclusive. That day, they all drank without guilt and praised Allah.

[This is a fictional anecdote and any resemblance to any person, alive or beheaded, is purely co-incidental.]

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Anant M permalink
    March 6, 2009 10:05 AM

    Sequel: While the stringers were praising Allah, the special correspondents of four English newspapers in Lucknow were driving down in a cab. Only one of them could read Hindi and speak Avadhi and knew one of the local stringers personally. The stringers got to drink and praise allah once again the next day at noon. At around the same time, the German TV began making enquiries of an English journalist who recently lost his job for having filed only one story in the previous six months, if he could help them make a 3 minute story on madrasas in rural UP. Somewhere, an intelligence SI was mopping his brow and kicking the cowdung off his hard brown shoes while trudging up the stairs to the muffasil daily and elsewhere, a balding South Indian kingmaker was about to reach for the phone to tap into his network of Hindi journalists … akhand bharat babua, dhire dhire aayee..

  2. ranju radha permalink
    March 6, 2009 12:58 PM

    nice take shivam
    indeed reflecting the core of journalistic pracitces in the subcontinent.
    also throws light (though sarcastically) on the pathetic state of the moffussil reporters who report India inch by inch in column centimetres and visually documnts it in mini DV formats.
    newspaper and cable revolution comes with a new caste/class of babus

  3. ipsita permalink
    March 9, 2009 3:44 PM

    but there was a UP politician who offered one crore for the danish cartoonists head.I remember.

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