Making or Breaking News?

June 28, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Holger Prothmann photo

 

By

Ananya S Guha

 

 

It is ‘fake’ news which is the talk nowadays. What is fake news? Ostensibly it is the kind of news that is doing the rounds, going viral to use a contemporary classic phrase to pan emotions and goad people into a willing suspension of belief into believing something, or some news which is not true. That is, to put it mildly, dangerous and can impact society in the most deleterious ways.

 

But, let us look at news. There is the sender and the receiver. While the sender has a responsibility towards it, so has the one who receives it. And, if the latter without critical thinking or a pause at its implications sends the news to someone else, then is he/she lending it a tangible credibility? Or is it? The person may be forwarding the news to await a response, perforce with a riposte: is it correct? – and wait for a mandate. However the general feeling is forwarding is with the expectation that it will be fast forwarded with an end to bring in the nuisance value.

 

Similarly there is the misrepresentation of facts, to create a fabulous world, such as astrologers’ predictions, enormity of scientific discovery and inroads into personal lives of celebrities.

 

What then is news? Is it akin only to information, just as history is only parallel to facts? Because of information inundation, news is being hurled to everyone every second. How do we then distinguish the bad news from the good, without a stain of prejudice or incitement?

 

That is not to say that stand alone, without the internet there cannot be fake news. Fake news or rumors are as old as man himself, with his innate urgency to tell stories. These stories can become lies, when they cease to edify or highlight a moral or ethical issue. That is the non creative aspect. The creative one is myth making, telling rather than merely stating and drawing parallels with cosmic significance. Unfortunately and, tragically we obfuscate news with the sensational and not through which human sustenance in terms of singular lessons, compassion are drawn.

 

Thus the word ‘fake’ has gained a titillating currency and scourge in the world of news. But again, which news is important? A python consuming a woman in a South Asian country and its bizarre picture of the woman lying in its belly, is it news to critically discuss, or is it simply to cause a perverse excitement? The animal-human world is an enigma and there is discontinuity between the two, can this be a debate- the mysteries of the animal world, their ‘thinking’ of the human, their rationality, their desires or fears? Yet this will be a news item for visual circulation. This is not fake news, this is raking news or to some, ‘breaking’ news.

 

This constant ‘breaking’ has to be braked. It is not only the users of social media sites that are culpable of ‘breaking’ news. Often it is articulated by educated people, the media to create doubts and, as a result, protests. News should be presented in a manner which lends credibility to interrogate. Interrogative news is absent, what is present are raucous political debates on news channels.

 

That then is a death warrant to dispassion and objective, sensible thinking. Taking a strict mono sided view is a water tight compartment bursting at its seams. Then, acrimony, hatred, vicious attacks. Dissent is hardly the word here. One can dissent without acrimony or without being acerbic.

 

We are slowly signing the death warrant of dissent. Even dissent is not possible. What is required is ‘being with us’ or ‘being with them’. It is amazing to see the ingenuity of minds perpetrating falsity and falsification. Speaking out of context, messaging spurious and morphed photos appear now to be the signs of the times. Similarly, the reinventing of history is another fad today, which is no less than fake news or rumor mongering of the highest order to rework passions and spout the culture of hate. Need I say more in the context of India, at least?

 

News and facts. Facts and information. Mythical facts and misinformation, where are the dichotomies? Where are the multi layered possibilities to convert information, or for that matter facts into a high ordered reality of valuable, creative and original news? The fact is that originality has taken an undercover and backseat role to favor the scintillating and the rapacious. Analytical articles are not read, but television channels propagating discord are met with approbation and gleefully viewed. Poets and writers evoking responses to society are tripe. What kind of news do we want, in the pursuance of excitement, which in turn is divisive, what must we write or show to spell accord, rather than the stench and miasma of discord?

 

 

 

 

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha was born and brought up in Shillong, North East India. He has seven collections of poetry and his poems have been published worldwide. They have also been featured in several anthologies. He is also a columnist, critic and editor. He now is a Regional Director at the Indira Gandhi National Open University and holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding.

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