What’s the Point of News?

big-news

It was Wednesday, the middle of a wet, clammy, and death-filled week. The sun had almost set outside my window at work and I was too bored to continue. I opened a new tab and typed, “F” — the first letter that came to my mind. And trusty Safari pre-filled my most-visited website, Facebook. Scrolling through weather forecasts, sneaky confessions, Netflix trailers, and random acts of kindness, I paused at one peculiar post.

A news item about the chief minister of my home state. She died a couple of days ago, and ever since, people talk about nothing else, whether at work or at dinner. This post, an opinion piece judging by its title, suggested a conspiracy against the dead CM. And it had appeared on my feed, courtesy of my cousin. I stopped to read the headline; the author believed that one of the CM’s closest allies—we’ll call her S—had turned against her and taken over the party’s reins.

It’s absurd, I know. But for years, our media celebrated their friendship. The friend, S, was the CM’s trusted advisor and remained so until, one fine day, a news channel reported that S was corrupt.

The party’s tables turned too soon for their liking, and the CM cut all ties with her friend. The media went crazy and people wrote articles about how the CM’s decision favoured her in the next election. It was all about winning the election. The friend never came into the spotlight until at the CM’s funeral, where she redefined the word, “weepy.” Sound like House of Cards? Welcome to its creepy Indian version.

All these details rushed into my head as I looked at the article’s headline.

I remember thinking we’d never know the truth about the CM and S. Their friendship was a mystery to everyone outside their circle. Nevertheless, we had news pieces and opinions about them, we heard from young college girls who wanted to be BFFs like the CM and S. And now, a few years later, we have wild theories and 12 things we never knew about the CM’s death.

I felt repulsed. I understand the media’s uncontrollable urge to print sensational news, and yet, I can’t accept their proof-less allegations. All these newspapers flew around me hoping I’d buy the one that features the most exciting gossip.

And that’s why I couldn’t digest the article my cousin shared. My cousin doesn’t understand political talks. I know she shared it only because it has an exciting new thing to talk about over dinner. And that only strengthened my waning interest in politics.

I don’t care who killed whom or who’s conspiring against whom. Because at the end of the day, who knows what’s true? We all live in a society that thinks it knows the truth but knows only what others think is the truth. We may guess, but we’ll never know. There are more than 20 television channels in my state that political parties own. Whichever party (or individual) owns the channel has all the power to create, warp, or kill a news item.

And I don’t see the point of revelling in other people’s convoluted version of reality.

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