A holiday in other people’s misery | Pakistan Today

A holiday in other people’s misery

  • And why journalism needs a thorough overhaul the world over

I, like a million other journalists, enjoy my brief forays into other people’s misery. Also, I am in the business of making you miserable under the guise of informing, updating and telling you about the world. Although I just told you the truth and nothing but the truth and it won’t change a single thing. You will be hooked on the never-ending sham novelty me and my brothers feed you. You are addicts. We are the producers, paddlers and dealers. We both are dependent on each other.

We, the ‘journos’ are little better than thieves, slightly reliable than con men, marginally good than propagandists, and utterly unreliable if you count us as your friend. We deeply seek our satisfaction in all things gory, all happenings bloody, all events that are exceptions and never the norm. We loathe dull, drab, routine, day-to-day lives that billions of people live. Our motto is; it isn’t news if it is about something good. Inversely, we tell you all that is bad for the greater good of God-knows-whom-where-and-what.

We, dear reader, were storytellers who have turned into heralds of anarchy. We pick and choose, edit and alter, deface and mar, cut and taint the world as we want you to see it and never as it actually is. Fear of the unknown, of untold, of something terribly wrong is our weapon of choice.

We’ll tell you that economy is in shambles, God has forsaken mankind in entirety, the world is at the brink of a complete collapse, two global powers will lock horns and once they are done fighting nothing will remain, there isn’t enough food to feed us, there aren’t enough resources to go around, and society is nothing but a den of evil inundated sad, depraved individuals who do infernal things like rape, murder, slaughter, corruption, nepotism and hundred other pathetic deeds to others who are weak and powerless.

We, the journalists are trained to highlight what is neither normal nor regular. We thrive on scandals, scams, irregularities, corruption, abuse of power, illegalities, murder, gore, filth, and sensationalism.

You, dear reader, should pay us heed but not your whole head. You must know the demands of our job. And please, as clichéd as it may sound should read good books and watch well-researched documentaries and seek solace in words of ancient sages.

We, the journalists are trained to highlight what is neither normal nor regular. We thrive on scandals, scams, irregularities, corruption, abuse of power, illegalities, murder, gore, filth, and sensationalism

And for those who really want to know what media is all about, the following dialogue from the film Network (1976) may be of some help.

Arthur Jensen: You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr Beale, and I won’t have it! Is that clear? You think you’ve merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case! The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and now they must put it back! It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity! It is ecological balance! You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians. There are no Arabs. There are no third worlds. There is no West. There is only one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars; Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, reichsmarks, rins, rubles, pounds, and shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU… WILL… ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one-inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians talk about in their councils of state, Karl Marx? They get out their linear programming charts, statistical decision theories, minimax solutions, and compute the price-cost probabilities of their transactions and investments, just like we do. We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr Beale. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable bylaws of business. The world is a business, Mr Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime. And our children will live, Mr Beale, to see that… perfect world… in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilised, all boredom amused. And I have chosen you, Mr Beale, to preach this evangel.

Howard Beale: Why me?

Arthur Jensen: Because you’re on television, dummy. Sixty million people watch you every night of the week, Monday through Friday.

After Apocalypse Now, Enlightenment Now, what is direly needed is to cultivate a little bit of Anti-Journalism Now in our worldviews.



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