Enough has been said over the last 10 years about the deluge of information on the web, and on the TV, the radio and the papers. All of it has contributed – one way or another – to change the way we look at the world around us; significant bits of it have even gone on to dictate newer with which we can interact with it. Unsurprisingly, however, there is also in place a different protocol, an upgraded one, that includes a new set of mistakes we could commit, a new set of implications and an altogether new rewards program, speaking as such, for not committing those mistakes in the first place.

Amongst them, there is a certain “mistake profile” that strategically underlies a lot of mistakes committed by unifying them with one principle: “doing it right makes no difference, doing it wrong makes a world of it”, and this kind of mistake has become more common; so common, in fact, that in some institutions, of investigations and reportage to be specific, they have attained the critical pedestal of being called systematic simply because they are not corrected even if exposed glaringly.

The Indian division of CNN

Commas once held the privileged position of inducing the most of such mistakes in writing. Using the commas in the right place leaves the reader with a smooth flow of thought, although he or she would ultimately take away the point being made at the end of the reading session. However, once the writer uses a comma in the wrong place, that sudden jerk in the flow of thought leaves the reader only with a dissonance that lasts the whole time – and he or she is bound to leave without giving a damn about your ideas. So also in reportage: just today, I was watching CNN-IBN cover the story of the Indian Navy capturing a pirate vessel off the coast of “Lakshwadeep”. If the presenter had pronounced it right, it would have gone a very short distance, if at all, in corroborating the care taken by the presenter to pronounce it correct. However, the moment she pronounced it wrong, it gave away a sense of journalistic nonchalance – especially when there is no hurry associated with covering the piece.

As long as the media is under the scanner, there is a critical difference between “showing” and “telling” that needs to be discussed. In order to understand this, consider the genre of creative writing: when such a piece is being constructed, the author needs to state something to the reader, not declare it. Similarly, facts need to be presented separately wherever possible, and not as cause and effect. This ensures the utmost neutrality even when an extremely suggestive event is unfolding. Such is the difference between statement and declaration. I principally address the contexts of writing and reporting first because they address a larger audience and quickly. However, there are other industries that face significant challenges in the long run because they didn’t look before they leapt.

The writer, at this point, was struck by a writers’ block arrow and regrets announcing that the article is done.

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