The book Garbage Beat reminded me of another book Between the Headlines. Both the books are written on exactly the same lines by the TV journalists, based on a year or so of their experience with the TV channel. This time it is Entertainment news instead of general news and the author anchor is better known. The subject is entertainment news pertaining to Bollywood celebrities. And is obviously more eye-catching.
The protagonist, an autobiographical character, is more real in this book. As she has shades of grey rather than being all goody-goody. A science postgraduate, daughter of a respectable family chooses to be an entertainment reporter in a news channel. She gets her own show. And that is where her stories covering various film stars and film event start. Most of the stories are modified versions of real-life events with changes made only to avoid any legal hassles, no imagination has been used to create stories. There is a track with a live-in boyfriend, whom she ignores for a career only to come back to him. There is potentially a growth in the character that could have been shown. But it was all lost in the glamour and pressure to cover it.
The part of the story that I liked is the story of a young girl who chooses her profession despite no support from family. And despite it being not regarded as a respectable profession by them. I would have liked her to include what is it that made her choose the profession. And what is it that attracts her to entertainment reporting. Her focus is more on showcasing the high-pressure nature of the job. And the office politics. There is a small track of women from journalism landing up in glamour business, one of them becomes successful. And the other gets a nervous breakdown.
Personally, for me the thing that stands out the most is the number of F-words, cuss words and all possible abuses in both Hindi & English. There may be world record there in the first two pages itself. I do not get the point in using bad language, maybe I am too old-fashioned. If you tell me that is how the journalists talk, I still ask ‘why’. I understand TV reporting may be assumed to be a high-pressure job. But that is what the media industry has created for itself. Honestly, do people have to break their bones or lose their sleep over what a film star has to say or not say? Or to tell the country what they wore on an occasion? Is something going to be lost if they report it at leisure? And enjoy the process as much as their audience enjoy their reports?
I met the author at Hyderabad Literary Fest this January. That is when she gave me this book for review. Going by her persona, I predict the book is going to do well.
Read Garbage Beat, if you aspire to be an entertainment reporter, it will mentally prepare you for that world.