The Journalism of Outrage

After retiring from the Supreme Court, Justice Markandey Katju now heads the Press Council of India, a role that everyone knows is a sinecure.  Nonetheless, he has managed to stir up a controversy by saying nasty things about the competence of Indian journalists. He also wants additional regulations on newspapers.

 We don’t have to agree with his proposed solution to recognize that he is right about the quality of Indian journalism. Take, for example, last week’s outrage of the week.  Apparently, little children are dying in hospitals of West Bengal.

If you read news reports like this, you will “learn” that the “death toll” in the hospitals has reached 45. You will also learn that the Chief Minister has not woken up to the gravity of the crisis,  has parried the questions asked of her, while her minister  of state for health has made light of the crisis. The Governor, you will learn, has taken the government to task on the question.

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When I wrote my post “Most blogs are terrible”,  I had intended to write a post on how to think of whether blogging will replace journalism. The idea was that we should disaggregate all the functions that current mainstream newspapers perform, and see how the same functions can be performed by the blogging network. That post has now been written, though not by me.

Ajay Shah writes that India may be in for terrible times. He has been writing that the fiscal situation of 1991 may be back. He has also been claiming that India has not yet learnt to manage business cycles.

Edmund Phelps writes about the inherent uncertainty of the capitalist sysem and points out that it is not really a problem with capitalism as such.


[Raj] Thackeray’s successes evidently left an impression on 1,900 employees of Jet Airways, who were fired last week thanks to the global financial crisis. They rushed to Thackeray’s office. He thundered that no Jet Airways flight would leave Mumbai until the employees were rehired.

If an Indian politician said that a generation ago, it might have been empty bluster. Today, the threat was taken seriously enough that the airline’s chairman, Naresh Goyal, held telephone discussions with Thackeray. After Thackeray’s and others’ lobbying, the employees were rehired the next day. (Anand Giridharadhas/IHT)

What is it about these Indian journalists joining foreign publications? Are lobotomies compulsory?