I am a self-confessed news junkie!!
I started with hating news at a very young age, as news time meant no other TV programs. Dad insisted on watching it from the beginning to the very end, revising the headlines. Those were the days of 20 minutes of structured news bulletin starting and ending with headlines; featuring twice, once in Hindi and the other time in English. The news readers dressed formally, stared into the camera and read from the prompter with a very straight face. Dad as a middle class man with finite means and influence felt the genuine need to know the bigger picture.
Soon his interest and need rubbed on us, me and my sister. Our young minds started finding the news as captivating, intriguing and thought provoking. It was stranger than fiction, the quest for truth and justice, conspiracy theories, corruption, power, politics, foreign policies… we followed Dad's interest in it. People often noticed and complimented our knowledge of news worthy events.
We were very excited at the onset of cable TV as news became more interesting. The monotone was replaced by analysis and discussion and investigative journalism where the quest for truth became a little more intense and a little more dramatic. But it was mainly marked by our new found role models; smart, intelligent, confident TV journalist who oozed passion and conviction …. came across as good Samaritans. The khadi kurta’s, rolled up sleeves of pin striped shirts, the enunciated appeals, the visits to far reaching villages or war zones, the discovery of unknown statistics, the analysis panels and hard hitting questions to and from social activists were embraced by us with awe and love.
But as common wisdom goes, everything is good in moderation.
Soon news channels were 24X7. And many more in number. More reports, more repetition of news, more not-so-true news, more of over the top discussion panels, more non-breaking breaking news, more repeated shots of news crew shoving camera in the face of grieving parent/celebrity/undertrial, more Bollywood gossips.
The Indian news casters and journalists tried to strive for a bigger role, as celebrities and political supporters The discussion panel became more dramatized and chaotic much like facts and news. They try to make fashion statements. Many were seen by rubbing shoulder with politicians while standing with and behind them; making a personal profit from their professional influence.
At this point I moved to US. The media here is sinister in its sincerity.
You can believe in anything and there will be a newspaper/news channel to say how you are right and more importantly those who do not believe in your belief are wrong. You can believe your neighbor is an alien, dinosaurs still exist, bigfoot reads newspapers, unicorns can rap. And there will be a “news” medium to verify and validate it while shaming the non-believers.
Same news and opinions are badgered. Mistakes/gaffes/typos are highlighted till they get set in stone. People with different opinions are showcased so they can be mocked. Attention grabbing headlines are first engineered, then analyzed, then repeated till they provoke a reaction… then the reaction becomes the next headline.
Left, right, center!! All kinds of opinions color the newspapers/podcasts/news sites/new TV channels. They viciously attack and demonize the “others”. The newspapers/channels/website sale has been miraculously revived. I myself read several newspapers but the bigger picture that my dad sought and found is made blurry for me by the large number of sources of constant news, business of profiting from news, propagation of opinions, advice on how I should think and the assurances that “I am right”.