Friday, March 5, 2010

Newspapers Suck

Why I Wrote This:

Newspapers suck, they are depressing to read and just plain awful by virtual any metric; full of bad grammar, incomplete sentences, rhetoric driven ideas, inane articles and just plain bat shit dribble.

As one can imagine, these traits tend to annoy me. I'm a very understanding fellow, but even I have my limits with regards to partisanship, stupidity and the promulgation of inferiority in a mediocre business.

The facts been made clear to me that Newspapers have a tough time making ends meet with the meteoric rise of the Internet, increasing number of news media channels and heavily slashed corporate advertising budgets.....MAN THE FUCK UP!

Excuses are useless, what solutions does the industry have? Are they really that devoid of ideas that these self proclaimed protectors of freedom, democracy and a good cup of tea really need to whine....all the time. What's next a subsidy on printing paper? 

Everyone ought to be allowed to whine for about two minutes, then you have to be a grown up and find solutions, or deservedly get fired.

Here are some ideas for this retarded segment of the media industry; I figured I ought to help out......after all, I write for some publications free lance and feel humiliated whenever I find misspellings, faulty analysis and terrible fact checking glorified on the front and back pages (those morons are super consistent, I'll give them that).

1. Fire the Editorial Morons: Fire the Editors and Hire high school level English grammar teachers; at the very least they'll sort out the awful grammatical mistakes these guys take for granted, (Note: unless you are as famous as an American Rapper you are not allowed to misspell words and expect it to be okay); Currently, the readers simply assume that the writers can't write, and the editors can't edit. The best newspaper award is a celebration of mediocrity, the bar ought to be raised.  

In the midst of this ethnic cleansing style gutting of newspaper head honchos, I'd humbly suggest that they eradicate the self proclaimed master word smiths who like to glorify themselves with their all encompassing 'Queens English' vocabulary....remember, this is Pakistan, not every one has a SAT vocab you freaking snobs! and most of the Pakistanis that do, don't actually live here.

These newly converted editors will also give the articles some flow and make them easier to understand....also threaten to fire them every 3 months....just in case some of them get lazy and start getting comfortable with the perks of a Press card.

2. Stop with the Conspiracy theories....Seriously: These have gotten very old. Report news, Newspapers are not a glorified gossip column. Get over the whole 'the Government is oppressing the media drama by not letting us go into a War zone crap'...It's a fucking War Zone you cluster fucking idiots!...if you go and die, it doesn't make you idiots look any better, though it would be a what up! to evolution if the Government did decide allow unfettered access.

Basically, this perpetual soap opera is getting boring, it's old, it's expected, its not shocking. Oh and quit blaming the Jews for everything, we mess up things fine ourselves and we ought to freaking learn the word 'accountability'...and so should you. If you are going to publish these idiotic conjectures, at least have the decency the name your sources. Man Up!

3. They are Newspapers, not Hate-papers: The Newspaper shouldn't be cited as the leading cause for suicide. Stop making reading the morning newspaper so damn depressing. Yes things in Pakistan are not perfect, but reading any paper cover to cover on a daily basis just makes me ashamed to be a Pakistani and I really don't need that on a daily basis.

Where is the hope? In some glib one liner at the end of a critical piece hoping that the powers that be pay attention? Newspapers in Pakistan make it's reader pessimistic about the future of Pakistan. Assholes, we don't need your help with that. Try to find something about Pakistan that even skeptics can take pride in and promote that. This is the only country we have, fingers crossed we have more going on than yet another political rally.

4. Comics are Amazing: I want more cartoons, comics are the things that got me to read the news paper in the first place. I find them interesting, and today's kids are tomorrows readers. Oh and cartoons are supposed to be entertaining, quit with the education oriented bullshit scripts. Comics make people smile, and eager to check out the days newspaper. That's the attitude that one needs to promulgate. 

5. Here We Are now, Entertain Us: Entertaining news articles and comment pieces, and most importantly, they ought to be written in a way that's both funny and compelling. Say what you will about the Onion but it'll always make you laugh with it's ridiculousness. A paper should have sections that make you look forward to reading it, not dreading the stack as a whole.

6. Show me the Pretty: Hire a graphics designer and redo all of the layout, currently, they are ugly, hard to navigate and not exactly intuitive. Make it easy on the eyes without becoming a cheap tabloid. Trust me, it's possible, papers all over the world do it. Please don't defend the layout with tradition, if you think that's a good enough reason to maintain the status quo, then perhaps newspapers do belong in the museums along with the rest of the historical artifacts. 

7. Pictures of Hot women: Men like hot women, I don't care how they incorporate them, but you need hot women. Worked in the UK, and we all know Pakistani's love our colonial roots. Mother's all over are still looking for the fairest dame for their sons and Face Whitening Creams sales are still through the roof. Hot Women + Full Page Layouts = Sales.

8. Wing Down: Stop withs the wings, right wing agenda, left wing agenda, could you please quit it and find a way to present these pesky things call facts, construct a story and actually debate theories on their merits? Try it, it's a unique concept to Pakistani journalism.

9. Politicians Suck...News Flash...We Are Aware: Please realize that the entire readership is aware that all of the Politicians we elect are very corrupt, but we elect them anyway. Beating your chests with grand self importance doesn't change that fact.

It's the price we pay for 'Democracy'. We've already done the math, catch up. 

10. Make Newspapers Shorter: There is no point in publishing 20 pages of 'News' everyday if only 3 are worth reading. People don't have the time to flip through an entire bloody paper, make it concise, and make it memorable. Get rid of the mass volume of space fillers. Quantity should always we sacrificed for quality. 

People don't read the newspaper anymore, they skim through them, the only people who have the time to actually read the entire newspaper are Retirees and House wives, and even they have lives. If Papers want to remain relevant, they had better start catering themselves to their customers, because the truth is that the next generation will just use online sources and quit their subscriptions. 

11. Online is the Future: Build a decent news site that isn't perpetually understaffed and has the capacity to actually delivers real time news, let readers add comments to each news piece published, making it more interactive (everyone has an opinion). Have videos embedded in the articles themselves to play clips of the news, add some commercials and voila; more ad revenue. Oddly enough traffic will increase as how about that?

The Big Idea;

The industry has become a microcosm of whats wrong in Pakistan, widely praised substandard journalism, coupled with shitty editorial work and a pious holier than thou art attitude, all make reading a newspaper in Pakistan to be a completely useless exercises.

We have papers subscriptions out of habit, but at the current rate the Internet and news channels are expanding, we'll stop seeing the point. And then the media industry are the ones who have to pay. I'm not really concerned about the top level guys, competent or not, they'll find gigs, its the rank and file that get to suffer, and journalism as a whole will suffer. 

End of the day, the media industry as a whole needs to strive to be better, make themselves more relevant as opposed to hiding behind their legacies and near monopolies. In the not so distant future, they won't be worth more than a bucket of spit. Show Some Damn Innovation. 

Perhaps Newspapers have to die before Journalism is reborn?


Anonymous said...

Welcome back Murtaza! I missed you but I guess even bankers have to work some time. I like the piece - it fizzed with ideas which could apply to almost anywhere. One or two things I didn't absolutely agree with (you must be losing your touch). I do think it's not good to deny journalists access to anywhere, to war zones for example. So you lose a few! Journalists really like getting all solemn about the loss of brave colleagues. Amazing how much more distinguished and fearless they become when they're dead! Oh, and I wouldn't deny them access to banks either. In fact it's about time you turned your scorching attention to your own area of expertise. As for the whole standards of writing thing, that's not really to be laid at journalism's door. That starts much earlier. But ok, I found myself thinking, yes that's a good point, and that's worth pursuing, eventually having to pull myself up and say. 'Hold on! I'm agreeing with this notoriously facetious guy. Something must be amiss!' A deeply worrying experience! One thing tho'. Women. That was a suggestion too far! Now if you proposed using images of beautiful men ......

Alpha Za said...

Thanks Alec. I think Journalists are important and there actually are some good ones here in Pakistan (a rare few), but for the most part, it's like they want their 15mins of fame on annual basis, and making the govt. look bad for protecting their lives is bad thing. There should be some degree of understanding the difference between safety measures and regional media blackouts. If you lose a few journalists, the govt. gets hammered for letting them die and not protecting them. And all hell breaks loose.

I think it all starts with being fair, and not necessarily glory hunting.

How about images of beautiful women being draped over somber good looking men? Compromise?

Anonymous said...

Ok. Too many people seek fame as an end in itself. It sure messes with objectivity. Oh, and if I must, I'll settle for your compromise. Love Alec :)
p.s. Hey! You've blogged on banking! I'll take my time with at one.

Alpha Za said...

You know me, the Compromiser.

I did blog on banking. I expect a High Five with regards to that.