I am sure reading the papers for my own knowledge or more like “to be in the know” is vital especially in the field of communications that I am in. It’s oh so important to know about that merger, that acquisition, that new launch, that new regulation passed, the new budget, the state of the economy the person who… and blablabla.
Yet each morning when the pile of newspapers land on my desk I feel sick to my stomach and I dread flipping its dirty gritty pages. Why this sick feeling you wonder? Why is she being such a drama queen? It’s after all just a paper which provides you information about the world and the country you live in and everything else in between right?
Wrong. The newspaper I believe is full of crap! Yes crap! The kind that you can find at the bottom of the dustbin. The kind that you can find growing in your drain. The kind of things you can find collecting underneath your shoes. Now if you take some time and flip through the grimy papers, you will note that every other page has columns or full pages or shudder, even creative buys like blurbs, stickers or callouts offering you to purchase something or other. Ads ads ads! The very things that drives the newspapers to its mammoth growth. *Note: I admire the creativity of certain ads but really, who needs so many ads in their face each day?
Now besides this sickening ads that yell at you to purchase a product that will make you look slim and beautiful with a whole head of hair in 10 sessions so that you become the object of everyone’s desire, or the dream driving machine with some super duper technology that will instantly alleviate your status amongst your peers and make you the envy of your neighbors and nosy competitive relatives or the latest mobile phone plan for your favourite people which could save you heaps of cash monthly, you would expect to at least get some brilliant piece of journalism right? The kind of article so well written you would sit up and take notice. The kind of article with a call to action so strong you automatically feel that you should do something that can change the world or make a difference. The kind of article that informs you and makes you more knowledgeable, that increases your intellect. The kind of article that makes you take a step back to think. Well, sorry to disappoint folks. You will be hard pressed to find an article of such caliber or perhaps it is me again with my high lofty expectations.
Before I continue my tirade about the deplorable state of the newspaper sans the advisements which are merely marketing tools sadly driven by our own needs and insecurities which are also needed to bring down the costs of the printing of the grubby papers, there are a handful of decent articles in the papers albeit more often then not, syndicated articles or weekly columns which do pique my interest and who entertains me to a certain extent. Perhaps I am being too harsh and judgmental about this, viewing things through my own narrow viewpoint, but really when was the last time you read an article which has changed your life or propelled you to greater heights? More often then not, you will find articles that are just what I would like to call “so what?” articles. The kind that you just read so that you are “in the know” or which you can make a half baked comment about but which generally adds no value to your life.
Moving along to the deplorable bit of print called the newspaper. With each page that I turn, starting with the cover story with its big bold headlines that scream something new and “wow”, to the next few bits of news about the country, government, latest collaborations, politics, business, world, sports and features about the latest it girls/guys, hit movies, singing sensations, over exaggerated fashion from Europe and the states which no one can even wear let alone afford and blablabla, I feel like ripping the pages to wrap the vegetables my mother bought from the market or to line the cages of some pet or to just toss it in the bin. It’s just so full of crap!
Have you read the kinds of things our people in power say? It will make you laugh and then cry because you realize that these are the people who hold your very welfare in their hands. Who holds the fate of the country in their hands. The half truths, the stupidity, the twisted words, the promises made and then forgotten, the pretty photo op pictures, the beautifully crafted words inserted with the proper key messages by PR people are all there for the world to see in glorious neat columns of black print. So many campaigns are launched with pomp and glamour whilst fueling and lining the pockets of others. I can hear the applause as the speeches are made as these people stand up and deliver speeches crafted by minds and hands of people you will never know. The promises made and the words said will be forgotten, swept away and discarded – the only evidence is the rows of print that will be thrown away and hopefully recycled.
Very few brave people have voiced out and even challenged the things that have been said while most seethe in silence afraid of repercussions. Try writing a letter to the Editor about something which is controversial and you can be sure that the letter will never be printed or if printed, edited to something that is unrecognizable. Oh of course it is edited, they need your article to fit into the “X” amount of space (usually 2 pages) allocated for the ‘readers say’ however, in the process they just might take out the important bits which are usually the crux of the issue. No surprise there really.
Then there is the news about the crime and the evil in this world – the sections that depresses me the most. I read about the horror of gang rapes while people pass by and watch without doing anything to help the victim. I read about fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, neighbors and strangers who rape young children who should be innocently watching Spongebob on TV, who rape unassuming young women or even old women who go about their own lives, who are just there are the wrong place at the wrong time - Keep it in your freaking pants or sarongs man! I read about many women who are raped by people in the villages. I also read about males who are raped. The cases are never reported because, shudder men’s egos are at stake here and whowever heard of this preposterous thing… but it happens.
I read about wars. The numerous people that are displaced, who have no food and who have died. The numbers of the dead or missing printed in huge bold numbers. I read about the starving people in Africa. I read about H1N1, AIDS and cancer. I read about famine. I read about natural disasters. I read about the extinction of certain species of animals and plant life. I read about global warming. I read about racism or perhaps the fact “that there is no such thing as racism”. I read about murders. I read about injustice. I read about terrorism. I read about kidnappings and ransoms. I read about bribery. I read about school shootings. I read them all.
Why do I torture myself with such news when my life is already filled with its own share of drama and misery? Who needs this kind of news really? Sure it makes you reflect and thank your lucky stars that you aren’t them but then really, reading the papers in the morning is so freakingly depressing. How is anyone going to have a good start to the morning with this load of crap in your hands?
Here’s another thing. All the news that you read may not be newsworthy and your wonder… hmmm… “Why is this bit of news included in the line-up of riveting articles today?” Easy! It is paid for or has been paid for with advertising. In my line, I beg for coverage for my organization but it’s hard when your organization seldom has the budgets to buy all that ad space necessary to get the best coverage in the papers. So what if your organization rocks or has achieved something really great, you will just get a small column measuring half a slice of bread for all your troubles. Lo and behold if you should a series of full page full coloured ads… you have prominent coverage with coloured pictures thrown in for extra effectiveness all because your news is “newsworthy”.
Maybe I am jaded, or again overacting. Maybe its just who you know that gets you prominent coverage… oh no… perhaps that’s not it. Maybe just maybe I suck at my job and the news that I generate are just utter nonsense. However, I honestly doubt that is the case simply because of several calls and blatant emails that I have received informing me that the said newspaper would not come to my event or cover my event simply because it has been 6 months since we placed an ad with them. Another newspaper, one of the country’s pioneer paper’s even told me that they had boycotted another organization in my industry several months earlier because they did not advertise and did I want the same fate as them. Besides that, don’t forget that so and so is friends with the big boss at the newspaper… a phone call can easily ensure your news will never see the light of day! Talk about newsworthiness. Don’t give me that feces!
So what’s there to like about the papers? Perhaps the occasional weekend pullouts with feature stories and of course the funnies, the classifieds and the cinema listings page. Other than that, I hate the papers. In the ideal world of which I idealistic hope for and dream about, there will be real feats of journalism that will win awards. There will be justice, there will be hope, there will be truth laced in all articles. There will be no fear in the written word. There will be no hidden agendas. The articles will be featured based on newsworthiness not on dollars spent. It will be about the wants of the everyday people. Reviews will be frank and honest and brutal if necessary regardless if you get a free meal or if they are advertising with that publication or if you know the person who owns the company that you tasked with reviewing. The ads will be minimal and not splashed on every other page.
Yes I am ever hopeful. Yes, I am a dreamer.
I wait for that day with baited breath.