I won’t say I don’t read newspapers at all. When I put the toothbrush in my mouth, I don’t start brushing right away. I keep it jammed between my right molars, and open the newspaper, toothpaste dribbling over my chin. And I keep examining those crisp pages of print, reading the black, dull words, till my lips dry up because of that toothpaste. I rush to the bathroom to spit before I choke, marking the end of my newspaper reading session.
I’m not disinterested in knowing the affairs of the world. I don’t dislike reading. I live in a house full of book, shelves always running out of space. I live in a global nation, and a rising economy. I was the most awarded student in the MUN society of my school.
However, newspapers aren’t exactly ‘news distributors’. The headlines are written by humans, men in offices, women trying to meet deadlines. Humans on a payroll. Those very humans, who churn out an, if not heavily, opinionated gist of the happenings in the city, in the country, in the world. I would rather have that very news from live people, however much opinionated. At least their words would be colourful.
I don’t hate newspapers, nor do I dislike them. And I would never say the world doesn’t need newspapers. However, reading a book is so much different than reading a newspaper. A book is richer, livelier, and spawns creativity even in the reader’s mind. I would rather read the ‘Schindler’s List’, than read a one page special issue of the Holocaust. I would rather read ‘In the skin of a jihadist’ than the newspaper listing of bombings in Syria. I would rather read climate change book than reports of global warming in Finland.
Newspapers are a gift to humanity, they are the ideals of social service, of bringing right of information to the masses. But the words they use are dry, and so devoid of emotion. They speak of child labours in child trafficking place, rape victims in Syria, helpless girl children in India through the medium of numbers, facts, charts, and statements. Where is the pity, where is the antagonism? Why are there no words of strength, or no message of support? If the bringers of news don’t instigate the masses against the evils of the society, then who will? Why is the news always open to interpretations and misinterpretations alike?
My general aversion to newspapers however always remained broadly unjustified. Reporters, who dish out the articles for newspapers, aren’t writers. They are machines. For how can one not weep while typing the sins committed by Taliban, or not cheer up while writing about a successful surgical strike? And when that tear falls on the keyboard, or when that sense of patriotism governs that fingers, an article ought to be a myriad of emotions. But as that article moves upward to higher authorities for editing and scrutiny, those little escapes from the robotic style of writing get washed off, and the mechanic print gloats over its victory.
This was particularly why I was a little sceptical when I was offered the position of a page editor of our school newspaper. I didn’t want to suffocate when the chains of non-emotion that would erase my style of writing. However, as I was the only student in my class to be offered the role of a writer and a page editor, I accepted it for the sake of a different experience. Little did I know, that it would open a new window, a new lens to look at the word ‘newspaper’ in a different synonym.
Thus began my avid writing phase. I found myself eagerly looking forward to newspaper meetings, discussing ideas with my peers. Tangibility of world peace, crumbling of ancient English, and even debating the reality of pokemon were the ideas, bursting like cheese on a pizza fresh from the oven. We had combined the essence of a newspaper with snazzy individuality to truly change the conventional newspaper.
My ideas, being impressive and original bore me fruit after all those years criticising newspapers. I was made the front page editor, and was also given the privilege of writing the cover story, with another classmate who matched my potential. That year, we planned crazy schemes, scrapped one article after another, raced to deadlines, burst into fits of laughter over what we had written. After numerous revisions, we finally submitted the newspaper, and held our breath from November to April, waiting for the ‘GT awards’ ceremony, felicitating the best writers from Amity schools and colleges.
And yes, all our efforts did pay off, the cover story won the ‘Most Outstanding Story’, and in all that excitement we nearly drop our trophies. But that was a year to remember.
I still just skim through the newspaper.