Saturday, 8 August, 2020
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OPINION

Be In Lighter Vein



Aashish Mishra

News, by and large, deals with serious issues. Crime, politics, world affairs – all carry a huge weight around them and need to be treated with the utmost respect. But as a journalist, just because you are reporting on serious issues, doesn’t mean you have to report them seriously. It doesn’t hurt if you mix a little humour into your writing; in fact, it is highly recommended that you do so.
This opinion stems from the age-old journalistic principle “Giving the reader what they need in a way they want” and modern readers want fun. They already have a shorter attention span and so, if an article is blunt, only states the facts and cites quotations, or in other words, is just boring regular news, then people will not read it. It’s as simple as that.
In the age of social media, we cannot expect the reader to read a comprehensive 800-word article when they can get the same news in 280 characters or less and with ‘exciting’ hashtags and maybe a nice photo or a video. So, in order to compete with social media, we have to make our writings appealing and multiple researches have shown that the best way to appeal to people is by making them laugh.
Now, it is necessary to draw a line between humour and jokes because jokes may not fly when it comes to news. You cannot make jokes about crimes like murder or rape nor can you insert gags at the news subjects’ expense. Not only is it insensitive and goes against the ethical norms of journalism, it might actually prompt cases of libel and defamation and land the reporter in legal troubles.
Humour, on the other hand, goes beyond jokes. It is a witty statement of facts, it is founded and most importantly, it is not aimed at anyone. It is simply a spice added to enhance the flavour of your news story.
We can add humour in our articles through many ways. The first of them is sarcasm. Of course, not everyone understands sarcasm but those who do, absolutely love them. It makes the article amusing and gives an inside joke for the readers without actually making fun of anybody.
Another way is through funny facts and illustrations. They have to be relevant to the topic of the news though. Irrelevant facts will distract the readers but relevant ones will give the readers context without expositing on them too much. Keeping funny facts in the lead will bring in readers and spreading them throughout the article will keep them reading.
And finally, a reporter can use self-deprecating humour. You are not allowed to make fun of anyone else. So, make fun of yourself. Add in slight touches to show the readers that the by-line above the news is a person just like them. This enhances relatability.
The crux of the matter is, make news funny. That way, the readers will choose to be informed. Otherwise, they will just turn over to social media which is sensationalising at best and flat out lying at worse. Making news funny is in everyone’s best interests. 

How do you feel after reading this news?