oppn parties Is the Remarriage of Sundar Pichai's Father-in-Law Worthy of Being Breaking News?

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Is the Remarriage of Sundar Pichai's Father-in-Law Worthy of Being Breaking News?

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
We are not publishing a picture with this article as no picture of Olaram Haryani is available as yet and this news is not about Sundar Pichai.

“KOTA (Rajasthan): Google chief executive officer (CEO) Sunder Pichai's father-in-law, Olaram Haryani, remarried at the age of 70 here on Wednesday.

Olaram, a widower, married 65-year-old Madhuri Sharma, a resident of Civil Lines area in Kota city. Sharma is a widow of a military man. The marriage was solemnized through Arya Samaj custom.

Olaram, a retired employee of a Government Polytechnic College in Kota, lives in Mumbai. His two children — a son and a daughter — live aboard. His daughter Anjali is wife of Sunder Pichai, the CEO of Google.

Everyone has a right to lead his life freely as per his/her wish, said Olaram after the marriage.”

This is a news item curated from the website of The Times of India. NDTV.com also carried this item. Both attributed it to PTI. While NDTV published it at 11.13 am on September 30, the Times of India did so at 5.40 pm on the same day. Both carried the picture of Sundar Pichai and not Olaram, for Pichai sells.Even the websites of financial broadsheets such as The Economic Times and Financial Express carried the item.

Seriously, is this news worthy of being highlighted as breaking news on websites of reputed media houses?

Mr Sundar Pichai, being the CEO of Google, is eminently newsworthy and anything related to him – professional, or even personal - can qualify as news. But the remarriage of his father-in-law cannot qualify as such.

First of all, PTI should have exercised editorial discretion by not distributing this item. Then, even if it did, media organizations such as TOI and NDTV should have steered clear of publishing it. This is trivializing news at its worst.

It also proves that editorial standards in India are fast going down the drain. Newspapers have started competing with TV channels in sensationalizing news. This was clearly evident when the front page was converted to Page 3 for days on end in the Sheena Bora murder case. Juicy tidbits, bordering on gossip, were shamelessly published on the front page. The level reached was clearly that of the scandalsheets, a term made famous by the British tabloids. But venerable broadsheets are not expected to indulge in this kind of tabloid journalism.

Newspapers have to decide whether they want to remain true to publishing ethics or compete with TV channels to give readers “what they want.” The latter is a very tricky proposition and newspapers cannot go around catering to the lowest common denominator.

Till the time of writing this piece (9 pm on September, 30, 2015), of the ones this writer scanned, at least two newspapers websites – The Hindu and The Statesman - had the decency of not publishing the item about Sundar Pichai’s father-in-law. But others will accuse them of not moving up with the times and snigger while pointing out their falling circulations.