It is a reflection of everything that is wrong with digital journalism today. Sorry, did I say ‘journalism’? I meant churnalism.
Unless you are living under a rock, you’ve probably heard: the movie Udta Punjab has been leaked online. But that’s not what this post is about. If you look carefully, you’ll find that the headline of this post doesn’t quite sit well. Something is not right about it.
The grammar is all messed up.
If you look at it differently, this headline has a lot to say. It is a reflection of everything that is wrong with digital journalism today. Sorry, did I say ‘journalism’? I meant churnalism.
The headline reflects a popular search term. When people go to Google, ‘Udta Punjab leaked’ is the keyword (or phrase) they’re likely to type in. In fact, you might have even landed up on this article when you did a similar search (see what I did there?).
Bollywood and entertainment news bring in the maximum amount of traffic to websites. So naturally, you chase clicks. To be fair, it’s okay that reporters would want to inform readers about what’s new, or what is coming, or what is wrong. But most of the coverage ends with a story headlined ‘Udta Punjab leaked’.
The problem is, only a handful of publications take the discussion forward. The rest act like zombies on a feeding frenzy. The infection spreads real fast, because let’s admit it, entry barriers to online journalism are non-existent.
The conveniently ignored flipside to this churnalism is that when there are more zombies and less food, everybody starves. Which is when we get into the usual debate of how digital ad revenues are not enough to sustain journalism.
In this business, eyeballs matter. But that’s not the only thing that matters. That’s where publications like The Indian Express and Scroll stand out by having a mix of deep coverage as well as stories that get eyeballs.