Newspapers and other musings

Published: April 10, 2010
The writer is a stand-up comedian.

The writer is a stand-up comedian.

KARACHI: It takes real courage to start a newspaper these days. Courage, or maybe stupidity. This is not a safe time to be a newspaper. Today, the few remaining survivors can be sniffed out by modernity, huddled together in dark and dank places, licking their wounds and whimpering about how the internet attacked them when they weren’t looking, and how advertisers bit them with poisonous fangs after they carried them so selflessly across the river. It’s embarrassing looking at those old and respected newspapers now. With Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and Blackberry apps, the original newspaper, a bunch of loosely folded papers covered with tiny print, looks like your dad trying to be cool.

Plus, who has the time to wait 24 hours for a news update? I can turn on the television and be assaulted by so many news channels it feels like my brain is being messed by frantic clowns. Opinions and analysis and man-on-the-street stuff is flooding my field of vision like those pop-up ads you get when you visit porn websites (or so I’m told, of course). Newspapers? They come plodding along too late. They don’t even have footage of violence so graphic it would make the most horrific slasher film look positively sweet. Silly old newspapers, with their pages that need to be physically touched just to get them to move.

And yet, we still read them don’t we? I don’t think my daughter will when she is older, but I know I do. But then I also collected vinyl records for a while. Perhaps that’s why newspapers still exist, because we all need a hobby. Besides, newspapers provide a valuable contribution to society. Have you ever tried to soak up spilt water with your laptop? Doesn’t work! Damn things don’t absorb at all.

“Write for us,” they said, “about anything you want.” The fools. It took me ages to figure out what “anything” would be. Initially I fooled myself into thinking this would be my turn as a journalist. Hard-bitten articles full of righteous anger and unquestionable facts. I would wear jackets covered with pockets and hang out at the Press Club swapping stories of my adventures with others of my tribe. Then I remembered two reasons why I never became a journalist: it requires research. I hate research. And journalists get beat up a lot. I hate getting beaten up.

So what then? What would I fill column space with if not the kind of informative and insightful stuff that other op-ed writers manage to churn out. Well, maybe my theories? I have tons of them, none burdened by fact or proof, mind you. But all that make complete sense. Basically, as one theory goes, every dictator of ours had a common feature: a bad haircut and mustache. Don’t believe me? Take a look at their photographs. Middle partings and moustaches with ends so pointy you could slice through democracy with them. Maybe it’s the combination of the two that drives a man to believe he is fit to rule over others.

So let’s make this a column where I can open up my brain and expose you to the detritus floating around inside. It won’t be informative but I promise to make it entertaining.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • umar tosheeb
    Apr 11, 2010 - 10:26PM

    After the invention of TV, it was widely believed that radios will die, but they have still managed to survive. I think newspapers will have to be creative same way. Your daughter might not read a hard copy of newspaper in the future, but it is very likely that she will read online version of the newspaper. Recommend

  • Apr 12, 2010 - 8:56AM

    Nicely done m’man! ‘Entertaining’ write up!
    And about Newspapers, they probably won’t die out, just like as the commenter before me pointed out, that radio did not. But Newspapers are already a has-been. A novelty. Something ‘different’, just like tuning into a radio once in a while (or collecting vinyl records for that matter).
    I have an interest in the reading habits of our society, and have written up something at my blog too (The Newspaper Man)Recommend

  • Saad
    Apr 12, 2010 - 9:50AM

    Interesting article! Looking forward to reading more of your theories. Whether you read a news paper or an online version of that paper is a matter of personal choice, convenience and availablilty!

    Keep up Tribune!Recommend

  • Apr 13, 2010 - 1:53AM

    “I would wear jackets covered with pockets”


    classic reporter dressage, although you have to keep the jimi hendrix head band on during a suspension of democracy too, ala Aman AzharRecommend

  • Aamir Khan
    Apr 13, 2010 - 11:40AM

    good oneRecommend

  • qasimirfanabidi
    Apr 13, 2010 - 11:43AM


  • Muhammed Ali Khan
    Apr 13, 2010 - 12:42PM

    You promised to make it Entertaining rather Informative..
    We need entertainment these days!! :pRecommend

  • Adil A Murad
    Apr 15, 2010 - 10:31AM

    Interesting article specially i like pop-up ads exampleRecommend

  • Maliha Hasan
    Apr 16, 2010 - 2:27AM

    Sami, we’re all looking forward to reading your pieces in the months to come.
    As for with their heads I say! Dinosaurs feeding off our environment. I’m happy to report that not only my parents but grandparents too prefer to read on-line papers. Money will be made one way or another…but there’s no comparison in ease & speed to reading one online. Ah one good use for outdated printed ones: my cook still drains french fries on them!Recommend

  • Nida Haroon
    Apr 17, 2010 - 10:45PM

    Interesting! Looking forward to your article! Wishing for a future without newspapers and specially those with the outdated Nadeem F.Paracha.[Sorry man your times over!]Recommend

  • Zeeshan Waheed
    Jun 7, 2010 - 3:01PM

    @Nida Haroon
    What was that about Paracha? Do you really think he writes comedy?Recommend

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