Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black & White Matters

If you don’t know what you are saying; the safer bet is in not saying it. The rattle and hum an empty tin can makes is more tolerable and forgivable for it’s a tin can dancing the Tango with the wind. What is not done is writing an editorial that pretends to say something substantial minus the substance. This little bit of commentary will mean nothing if I’m clueless about the message I wanna get across.

Such a state is at best delusional and at worst, unbearable. This is in reference to the recent strain of dead editorials readers have had to put up with and specifically the 21.11.11 Edition of THE JOURNALIST; which featured a front page headlining act with the presumptuous tag "2013: Who's Got What It Takes?" What's the hurry? We are still Novembering 2011. Such insensitive and blatant politicking should not be entertained. If the owners/editorial rooms of the paper have an insatiable urge and an obsessive need to suck up to the powers that be, then do so in your private domains but spare us your bloody infatuation and naked backsliding presented with genuine gumption bordering on the retarded as news. The Ten Ngultrums I pay to to read that and other papers is not to be informed of your backdoor dealings or baseless politicking. It is essentially to be informed.

As a reader, I’d rather read something inconsequential but well intended and honest than go through an article trying to find a thread of sense in what is basically a nonsensical and inconsequential bit of baloney pretending to sound a cause and an alarm that is fundamentally absent.

And where did you get those figures, numbers and percentages? Lemme guess... That conniving head of yours crowned with two quotation marks and occasionally, the exclamation! Remember your infatuation with the DPT party in 2008 and the gloating conclusion which ended with the banner headline "THE JYT PHENOMENON?" Wake up man, or go take your mistress and chill out awhile on a beach in some tropical climes.
Life is also beautiful you know and that thing in your head will definitely develop into a tumor at the rate you present the rumor as NEWS.

This is not a judgment, it’s a plea. If the week has been a slow one in terms of its relevancy, than talk about the weather, or the birds and the bees, or better yet, recount something preferably positive. God knows there are enough bombs going off, enough violent eruptions, murders, rape, theft, TREACHERY, tyranny and the sort bombarding the senses. Normalcy today amounts to an averted genocide. Our skins have gone so thick that they’ve become hides. I’ll be disturbed if a whole country vanishes or a nuke goes off somewhere in paradise.

Even magic mushrooms have become passé. Think of that infamous footage of the Twin Towers crashing down like a sack of sands. I didn’t even blink; not even when reports surfaced within minutes of that tragedy about a couple of gigantic planes heading for strategic targets with hundreds of people aboard the ill-fated planes.

That’s how thick the human hide has become. That imagery will remain etched forever in our psyche for that heralded a whole new world order. The price has been a decade of war and probably the tragedy of the twin towers multiplied by a whole lotta zeros.
That is the state of the news and woe be the station that hath no coverage of such eruptions. And shame on the lavish coverage meted out by generous media houses.

And here we are; practically living in a country that probably covers more positive news as opposed to the media at large. Yet we have issues, for this is no Shangri La and the stories do not begin with Once Upon a Time concluding with “And they lived happily ever after.” No. There are issues at stake and it is only natural that we cover them – health, the economy, education, employment, the youth are some of the themes pregnant with abortions. And the editorials are fixated on an election that is still a jolly good two years hence!

This and other redundant topics beset with confusion and lack of clarity are beginning to pop up regularly in certain newspapers. It is a sad and disturbing trend – of subjective reportage fueled by an acute dosage of myopia bordering on the gibberish. Concise and clear objective arguments triggering healthy debates and discussions are a rarity an occasional treat. When an earthquake strikes, it’s generally bad. But one can make it unnecessarily excruciating, as in, ‘a nice earthquake struck…’ No one ever recalls earthquakes being nice or floods becoming beautiful.

The urge to exaggerate is as bad as underplaying a certain issue pertaining to the public domain. The PM is the PM; I don’t need your condescending need to describe him as ‘a true son of Pemagatshel’. What about the rest of the Pemagatshelpas? Does that make them false sons of whoring bitches?

At others editorials sound like the final jury dishing out some favors here and slap there. A lead declares how ‘awed’ civil servants are of the PM and his party honchos. Remember 2008 and that suck up headliner declaring the PM as the ‘Phenomenon’? It’s not the PM’s mistake. It’s the paper’s take and we don’t need your take on how the PM or any other honcho should be addressed. Your job is to report the news and news that concern the Bhutanese and the Kingdom of Bhutan. The date on the calendar is still November, 2011. Gimme a break and when 2013 comes, I’ll not mind news relevant to 2013. For now, report the news instead of dwelling on hypothetical scenarios. The drama, should it come, will come of its own accord. For now I’ve a TV with a big ass remote that can zap a snap as I like it.

Yet the stubbornness goes on. Lessons are obviously ignored for what follows frequently is the complete disregard of the readers’ intellect in a thrust of headlines and so called stories that insult the intellect and render the reports either predisposed or just plain superfluous. One cannot fault the people or the incidents being reported, rather it’s the bigoted fashion in which the reports keep coming.

A newspaper cannot be obsessed with anything, least of all individuals and institutions. If the will to be infatuated is strong, then limit it to the entertainment pages or put the in context but spare me the presumption. Objective reporting should come free of personal agenda. The editorial in a newspaper is its first and final voice. It’s both the sum of the newspaper’s many pages and in the end, its collective whole - the fulcrum from which the spokes of the wheel spiral out. You can’t afford to drive that recklessly; you do not have that license. If this is non-negotiable, then run a goddam grocery or a bar. This gravitas gets heavier when Editorials. Op-Eds and Articles are molded in a fashion that generalizes everything. Where is your bloody fearless neutrality?

The editorial does not demand; it is by nature supposed to be thoughtful, relevant, researched, and topical to the times. That some thought has been invested. That some research has been done and backgrounds checked, facts ascertained, and voices balanced.

If these basic yardsticks (which should come as naturally as a quiet fart to an editor’s pen) are missing in action, then the loss of face and respect from your reader is not only deserved but duly expected. This is the moment of truth: either you honor your trade or bugger off from the pages.

Week after week, this sad episode is played out in the form of quixotic headlines and baby editorial tantrums looking asking for a nipple or a pacifier. The nonsensical note at best and the vindictive venom at worst is the meal of the day. Not all Americans are gun toting racist red necks. There are strong individualistic bent Bhutanese who don’t give a rat’s ass about the herd mentality. Neither are all civil servants lazy apathetic pot-bellied vampires. Not all elected reps are in it for the Patang and the perks.

There is a duty higher than that and that is the primordial urge to live a meaningful life devoid of crap, no matter how viciously we deny, defy or avoid it. Even the rebel without a clue is on the hunt for that meaning. Being positive and painting rainbows where there are none is as bad as convincing a junkie of the pot of hash at the end of the rainbow.
I used to read the papers for the info, now I just grab the inflated print for the baloney. With all the hue and cry writhing around this Medusa’s Head, the media is still a kid with a lollipop in one cheek often caught with a stealing hand in the cookie jar.

Only in Bhutan can a graduate become a journalist and an editor within a span of two years. It’s like putting a gun in a child’s hand and seeing what the little bum will do. Democracy gives media the freedom of expression but in the absence of any precedence of libel, freedom of expression itself is blurred. It is important for journalists to realize this when they approach a story. In a small society like ours, misquotes or misinformation does not simply disappear with the story, it lingers long.

The Sicilians keep it short. They call it ‘Vendetta’. We know. We go “Lock Shoe Lay Pfchay Kay May.”

You see, unlike other professions, over here you get printed in black and white, or as we say “Kap Goo Nap.”
Now try spinning that!


PS: YourLustForLifeStartsRightNow!

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