The fifth column/Page 3

5 Sep

This might be news to you but an important ingredient in my morning coffee is the newspaper that goes along with it. If I do not read with my breakfast, I cannot taste my food. My eyes and my taste-buds work best in conjunction (no, not conjuctivitis – conjunction).

And for some strange reason, I always start with the back and the supplements of the newspaper. I reflected on this behaviour of mine and realized, it is a defence mechanism against bad news. I hate bad news – it destroys my belief in an orderly and fair-minded universe. What do you mean, there are no unicorns?!?

Coming back to the back-page and supplements, I like the supplements the best because they carry the comic-strips. I love comics as much as I hate bad news. If you would give me bad news in a comic form, I would probably read it. Was that in bad taste? Oh well, that is me, not just bad news but in bad taste too.

Anyway, so I start with the supplements because of the comics but end up reading the gossip column. Sometimes it is very entertaining. I usually do not know many of the minor celebrities that are in the news (I have neither TV nor Radio at home) but I like a chuckle just like any one else.

Sometimes though, it is embarrassing to read the gossip. There is a wonderful German word that captures this – ‘Fremdschämen’ – it means you are embarrassed on someone else’s behalf because they are either so stupid or stuck-up to be embarrassed for themselves.

I am not just talking about the tongue-wagging, twerking starlets; sometimes, it is the writer of the column you are embarrassed for. I know you need to fill-up the paper but why would you print such uninteresting drivel? Couldn’t you have just photo shopped some cute baby elephants to form a message that says ‘Save us’ or something in that vein? It would have been at least spreading awareness!

I just wish there was more writing in Page 3 – just a list of names who were at a party, really? That is your interesting piece? Could you, at least ,not say something like ‘celebrity X was spotted at store Y and bought a rolling-pin (brand-name) with a credit card from bank Z– does that mean her relationship with W is on the rocks?*’

(* – Did you see how many establishments and products I just managed to plug into that one statement?)

A very relevant question and it could be made juicier with additional details like “this celebrity has never been known to cook or bake in her life, ever, before this whimsical purchase” – so the conclusion my dear Watson is, it must be the husband/boyfriend! Now we have the weapon and the victim(to-be) but what is the motive? And does this motive make any sense? Oh well, all that will be revealed the next time when the paper has to fill-up some more space.

Your journalistic ethics does not let you make-up any stories? Oh I am sorry, my mistake, I did not say you should print “lies” without verification, I am asking you to use artistic freedom and to speculate. You can always finish the article with ‘Who knows’ and that would make everything you have said live on this side of thinking-aloud and not accusation (if you are worried about getting sued or anything).

I hope now that I have made my point clear, I hope to see some real gossip and not some insipid ‘was spotted at a party along with…’

Yes, I am available as a writer for any magazine or newspaper. Please drop me a line via the comment section!

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One Response to “The fifth column/Page 3”

  1. newspaperjobsinpakistan September 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Reblogged this on newspaperjobsinpakistan.

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