Can We Please Do Away With Celebrity Blind Items Already?

Vile. That’s the word you would probably associate with a blind item column. A blind item makes a gossip column (that takes names) look like an investigative report. That’s how bad things are. For the uninitiated, a blind item puts out ‘rumours’ about a particular person without naming them. However, the ‘story’ has enough indications about who the person might be. It’s impractical to ask people to not gossip about other people, but let’s do away with any space for ‘columns’ that are fuelled (mostly) by lies. And because such a ‘column’ doesn’t name anyone, it doesn’t even have to look into its facts. Or the lack of it thereof.

You can say just about anything by hiding behind a ‘blind item’ and get away with it. It saves the publication from (most) potential lawsuits, and also keeps the reader entertained with their quota of salacious new. Let’s stop this. It goes against the very grain of our profession. In a ‘blind item’ there is absolutely no need for anyone to be factually correct, therefore a minor disagreement becomes a ‘showdown’, a hug becomes ‘romantically linked’, and a generous ‘offer’ suddenly gets an exorbitant number like Rs 250 crore.

Also, let’s be a little frank here. It’s human nature to say nasty things about others, while hiding under the garb of ‘decent people’. But this sexed up version of hearsay doesn’t need to be given a platform by any self-respecting publication. It’s understandable that some people derive a sadistic pleasure while reading about someone else’s misery, and yet as media-persons (with some integrity left hopefully?) we need to use our discretion between stories backed up with sources and outright lies.

We’re living in a sensitive time, and it’s impossible to ascertain whether even frivolous gossip (especially Bollywood celebrities) drives someone over the edge. Which is why while we’re evaluating ourselves during this pandemic, let’s all take this moment reflect on the sheer inanity of a blind item column in our publications. It doesn’t do anything to add to public discourse whatsoever, and mostly comprises disproportionate lies. As ‘responsible’ mediapersons, we might not always find the truth, but it doesn’t mean we have to provide a platform for outright lies supported by sources who will never come on record.

The only thing a blind item is good for, is for selling a few more copies of your newspaper/magazine, more hits on the website and a few extra bucks. But if someone’s life and their deteriorating mental health hangs in the balance, then we can surely afford to make less. Most ‘decent’ media-persons would agree, yes?

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