The Paper Tigers

It’s another day at the newspaper
Someone’s dead. Someone’s maimed
Some are history, while others have made it
Another headline, another story
Another deadline, another write-up.

More important that the people
Are the phrases, clichés, descriptions
For the people and events are transitory
The heads roll ‘n roll ‘n roll ‘n roll
But the bodies are always the same
Every day the news is just the same
Someone’s won, someone’s lost
Someone’s here, someone’s not.

To survive, you need, what do they call it?
News sense.
Twenty killed—how boring!
A thousand down—great display!
More the gruesome, more the pretty.
The bad, badder and the ugly
Make great news.
City kills man: No news at all!
Man kills city: Wowee! Wah! Banner! Banner!
It’s the dictators, tyrants, psychos
Who rule the newsprint.

There is the occasional victory covered
The occasional good man
The stray hero that the press makes
The hero. the sacrificial goat
Fo they make him, praise him
Put him on a pedestal
(the fattening of the holy goat)
only to kill him…
…and he screams in headlines
dripping black blood all over the page
For the best story of all is the
Hero who failed
who failed the aspirations of the press
who is wiped out
and consigned to the waste basket of the news room

And if he doesn’t fail?
Declare him a God.
Then eavesdrop. peep. dig. trail.
slander. speculate. analyze.
and expose him as a mere mortal to the gullible audience.

(News.
A significant person doing an insignificant thing
An insignificant person person doing a thing of significance
Filler.
A significant person…a significant thing
Trash.
Insignificant p. insig. thing)

Today’s lead story is
the next day’s single column follow-up
and then it vanishes without a trace
only to be replaced by a synonym
which follows the same path
ad infinitum

The world seems so small. condensed
In the single edition of a paper
The world in your hands
and a new one each day

Reporter.
One man speaks nonsense, a million read sense
The writers are bigger than the stars
and the deskies even bigger.
Come to a newsroom
Mundane literature sprouts
overnight and is dead within a day
leaving each journalist feeling as if he’s
authored a thousand books
Thousands of images come and go
It’s not reality
But it is some sort of live show

Cartoons give some relief
in this comedy of errors.

What is a journalist?
A writer? A historian? A comedian?
A grave digger? A moral index?
A paper tiger? A…?

© Sunil Rajguru

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