Daily Archives: 5 June 2007

Why Google can’t find Dr K. Haminahamina

As if bitten by a rampaging mad dog, outsourcing journalism work to India has become a bit of an epidemic in America. It all passes in the name of cost-cutting, to offset falling circulation and advertising revenues. Indian reporters are to view proceedings over the internet and report on the event.

What if the tables were turned?

What if Indian newspapers were to outsource their work to Americans?

The Washington Post‘s Gene Weingarten decides to check it out. After viewing a webcast of “a recent meeting of the local legislature of Tamil Nadu”, he writes up an account of it and offers it to “India’s 50,000 newspapers at the surprisingly affordable price of 80 rupees, or about two bucks, apiece”.

CHENNAI, INDIA — A man whose name is, I swear, “Somnath Chatterjee,” addressed the state legislature here today. Mr. Chatterjee was introduced as the leader of the “Lok Sabha,” which is evidently some sort of important national lawmaking body about which few details are available at this time.

Mr. Chatterjee is apparently in ill health, as he arrived surrounded by attendants in white hospital garb. However, he proved hale enough to mount the podium, where he delivered a lengthy speech in praise of an elderly, revered local government official whose name sounds something like “Dr. K. Haminahamina,” a name that, unfortunately, didn’t get any Google hits. But it’s got to be pretty close.

Mr. Chatterjee’s speech was interrupted many times by the sound of antelopes thundering by, which turned out to be people thumping their palms on their desks. This seems to be a local version of applause, a fact that became apparent as the camera panned the audience, and HOLY COW, wait a minute—everybody’s wearing all white, head to toe! This is like a convention of Good Humour men. So, Mr. Chatterjee might not be that sick, after all…

Read the full story here: Hack for hire

Illustration courtesy The Washington Post


‘Do not turn journalism into entertainment’

The dumbing down of the news—the McDonalds-ification and the Murodch-isation of the media—to appeal to the lowest common denominator, in the mad rash for numbers, has been the pavlovian response of publishers and editors to readership and advertising declines.

But the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has served a timely warning. Making journalism interesting may be a prerequisite to keep readers interested, but making journalism entertainment, he has told the World Editors’ Forum, is a pure recipe for disaster.

In a video address to the WEF in Cape Town, Llasa said journalism was facing difficult challenges, which some have attempted to conquer by “banalisation or frivolisation of journalism”. He said people looking for entertainment rather than “true information” had caused some degradation of journalism. He said this was “very dangerous” and that a transformation of journalism into entertainment would abdicate what has been its most important function.

Good journalism, according to Llosa, “conveys an objective vision of what is going on in the world.” He said the best way to overcome bad journalism was to do what good newspapers, radio and television have been doing: “Telling the truth and trying to convey good information.”

Read the full story: Mario Vargas Llosa on the future of journalism