When bad press is good news
THE WEEK|October 31, 2021
The media are as good or as bad today as they were 130 years ago, or even earlier
R.PRASANNAN

The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.”

Most people—those who read papers or watch TV news or scroll news portals, and those who think they are wiser by doing nothing of the kind—would agree. That today’s media are pandering to the base instincts of the public, dishing out what the masses ask for, and are being led by TRP ratings or circulation figures. That serious journalism is dead.

When did serious journalism die? Over that, there is no consensus. It was alive when some of the critics were in school, when some others were in college, when they were working, or before they retired. A few would say, it was alive during the freedom movement, till the end of the Nehru years, during and against the Emergency, post-Emergency, in the 1980s, when all the news was on DD, till the TV boom, before the corporates bought up papers and TV stations, before the internet age and so on.

The fact is, every generation has been saying this ever since news began to be printed on paper and sold to the public—that the media used to be good earlier, and that they are bad now. How else did Oscar Wilde write the line quoted above in an essay 130 years ago?

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