The mobile home screen showed 8.00 am. Tanmay gobbled up the last piece of bread and ran towards the door. He cannot afford to be late on his second in the office, especially when the office is a news channel.
He stood on the vestibule, his favourite area inside a metro rail. “Oh come on! Don’t tell me you haven’t studied for the ‘Current Affairs’ paper.” The sentence immediately grabbed Tanmay’s attention and like a true professional he started to observe the gang of young schoolboys.
“Who needs to study? Don’t you watch the news?” said one of the boys. “Nope. Guys, please tell me some important topics”, replied the other. “Here, check this out,” another boy handed him a sheet of paper. “This is WhatsApp conversations of Rhea Chakraborty.”
Tanmay couldn’t have been more stunned. His curiosity increasing at the speed of light, he decided to stand next to the group. “I don’t need a list. Rhea sent 13 messages to Raman talking about drugs and ‘maal,’ some 18 with to another guy…” He was stopped with a raise of hand by one of their group members. “You’re going to top dude. But trust me the biggest trick question is what exactly is maal? I’ve heard that’s what got Deepika into trouble,” The boy said with a wink.
“Umm excuse me but have you boys tracked the various murder theories of Sushant Singh Rajput?” asked a man standing next to the boys. Like Tanmay he was also paying attention and decided to chip in with his dose of ‘current affair’.
“Yes. I saw hours of news debate on that issue,” readily replied one of the boys. Needless to say, the discussion didn’t please Tanmay at all, but he continued to listen attentively. “Is this all? Nothing else?” asked one of them. “Yes these are the top national stories. Apart from these the farmer protests, Covid cases, GDP decline may come in short notes.” Before the discussion could further add to Tanmay’s frustration the typical “Next station is…” tune inside a metro signalled intervened, he had reached his destination.
Shrugging of the metro episode as a one-off incident, Tanmay entered the channel office. Expectedly an argument greeted him. “There is no need to cover this, I can’t waste my resources on a bunch of farmers protesting,” said a visibly agitated editor-in-chief. “But sir this is not an ordinary protest. They’re saying they might go on a hunger strike if the new bills aren’t withdrawn,” the young reporter tried to justify himself. “I don’t care. Who has joined their protest? Any actress? Cricketer? Some politicians?” The reporter shook his head each and every time.
“Well then it’s of no use. I can run it on ticker at best.” Tanmay desperately wanted to intervene but chose not to as he was just a fresher in the field. “Sir an MLA of the ‘Aam and Apple Party’ has slapped a vendor.” This shouting interrupted the argument. “Now that’s what you call news, brilliant job Deepak. Show me the visuals.” The poor reporter stood like a clown for a moment and then decided to go back to his desk, probably to look for something worthy to go on-air.
“No no just play the visuals. Zoom in on the face of the vendor while he is being slapped. Now put it on breaking news.” The excitement on the editor’s face was there for everyone to see. “Sir Big News TV is already showing the news with a heading ‘MLA slaps vendor, is it a signal to the opposing party?” Their biggest rivals have already put it on air. It was high time for them to react. The editor was at a fix. After all it is a demand from a TV news channel to give something new to their viewers every time.
Deepak came to his rescue, “Sir I spotted some small packets inside his car. ‘NETAS AFTER BOLLYWOOD? WAS THE MLA UNDER DRUG INFLUENCE WHEN HE SLAPPED THE VENDOR? Then we link it to the drug peddling angle.” The editor jumped in joy. “Tremendous idea! Immediately ask the video editors to highlight the small packet inside the MLAs car, we can show this as proof. Listen, don’t forget the question We have a story in our hands. Now let me see who stops us from topping the TRP chart.” Tanmay couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He had a totally different idea of news.
“Hey! Tanmay, Come here quickly.” As an obedient junior, Tanmay went and sat beside Shruti Pandey, a senior reporter. “I think we have our ‘prime time’ story. A girl has posted about finding a hair on her noodles, in social media. It has gone viral and now people have decided to quit eating noodles. A movement is being launched; the Facebook page has got 5 thousand likes already.” By now Tanmay had made up his mind to forget his ideals and go with the flow. “I think this can easily go on our 9 pm show.”
Shruti signalled him to go back to his desk and start researching more about this story. While going back to his desk he felt like throwing away his research work on a Covid-19 vaccine being developed at a science college in Meghalaya. But he didn’t…