A new branch of journalism has flourished rather imperceptibly in this part of the world. There is nothing as trendy as the Harper's Magazine, GQ or the likes here. Once, the Chitrali was a naïve imitation of the highly rated entertainment magazines of the West. Then there were a few others mostly of prurient tastes with sexually titillating pictures. All those have happily vanished because the subscribers of such materials have access to more explicit items, courtesy of digital devices and the internet.
Now almost all the front-line daily newspapers devote a page to entertainment journalism. One would lie if one denied that the pictures brought out there are all innocent but still they have to draw a line somewhere because the exposure of intimacy and female body must not cross the periphery of the average Bangalee morality. After all the newspapers have to cater to the family tastes. It is unlikely that a magazine like the Playboy can be published from any media house here.
So how do they walk the tightrope of moral caution and urge for the explicit? The leading newspapers rather maintain a conservative line rather than erring on the count of caution. Here the problem does not involve the dilemma concerning the extremes on either side; rather it does with the choice of the subject from performing art or entertainers to be promoted. An English daily has sacrificed its weekly magazine in four-colour cover pages and glossy spread in between for the sake of fashion and style.
It is the daily entertainment page that has to struggle for selection of artistes or celebrities. An overdose of a few known faces can develop apathy among the readers towards celebrities. So there is a tendency to promote the less known entertainers. It cannot be said that many of them deserve the accolades they are showered on. But who cares? After all they cannot leave the page blank. In certain cases the exercise proves to be naïve and rustic. There is a feeling that a gift of a diamond necklace has been made to a monkey.
What is even more objectionable is the fact that the merits of the celebrities -no matter if they are from celluloid or from sports world, are not the subject of interest. It is the trivialities concerning nonsenses like with whom of the opposite sex the celebrity, artistes of performing art or idol was seen to have tea. What dress one was wearing. Sometimes poking into private life goes as far as it becomes scandalous. The culture of paparazzi is yet to develop here but at least some indication of it is there. Trivial and hollow these types of entertainment do not make the fans any wiser. Information is essential but when it does not serve any reasonable purpose, at least readers should be at liberty to shun it or even abhor it.
Entertainment journalism can even be very useful if the iconic celebrities are displayed prominently or covered with a story when they donate for the poor or are involved with some social services. One must not expose one's shallowness of intellect by making a mountain of a molehill. If a celebrity sneezes or coughs, let this not get an undue media coverage. Discerning readers will feel undermined.
Accepted that choices differ and people have different levels of intelligence. But yet an entertainment page of a daily newspaper should try to maintain a standard that caters at least to average intelligence. With the arrival of smartphone in combination with the internet, the tendency is to unlearn language and literature. So the newspapers and magazines have an additional role to play and demonstrate that the need for nurturing standard language has no alternative. With it the tastes of readers must also be nurtured.
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