Just when we thought that we would pick up the pace by tightening our shoe straps and inundate you with crouton-sized news items, we get a reality check. The totally dependable-sounding ethnographic research firm, the Context-Based Research Group, has found that young adults in the age group between 18 and 34 in six cities in India, the United States and Britain are experiencing ‘news fatigue’. That’s not a new ailment caused by the ridiculous frequency of ‘Breaking News’ aired by TV news channels (‘Breaking News: Aishwarya Rai was not found in a compromising position with Michael Douglas at Cannes’). Instead, it’s the more serious matter of young adults getting tired of information overload and constantly updated news stories with no ‘in-depth stories’ to sink one’s teeth into.
While Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and their desi equivalents smile with earned arrogance, let it also be told that ‘in-depth stories’ (read: long items of reportage or opinion) are different things to different journos. If there was one quality control device in place regarding news for the reader or viewer, it was that information was bite-sized and left only small ‘skid-marks’ on the consumer. With every journo thinking that he is a Ryszard Kapuscinski, Robert Frisk or a Khushwant Singh, it could be open season for reams of, well, un-Kapuscinski, un-Frisk, un-Singh prose. Which means finding out accessible means as well as quality control posts for ‘in-depth’ stories that address the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ rather the ‘whats’ and w’assups’.
Lest anyone forgets the golden rule of the human brain, the information gathered and presented has to be pleasurable — intellectually or otherwise — for the consumer. It’s just that the ‘pleasure principle’ in the media has too many theorists — some who would like to go into details in an engaging way for the hungry, discerning reader that isn’t possible in this small piece of printed real estate.