Where the hell is all the non-coronavirus related news that can be printed?

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The editor of The Daily Blast – the nationally circulated newspaper whose motto “Be Prepared” was unacknowledgedly borrowed from Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement – ​​had called an emergency conference of his top executives to dealing with the existential crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The need of the hour is to be prepared and to stay one step ahead,” the E-in-C said, getting the ball rolling.

“But we’re prepared and we’re staying ahead of the curve,” an associate editor protested. “Our media coverage of the pandemic is by far the most comprehensive and talked about of any mainstream media! »

“That,” said the E-in-C, “is precisely the problem. From the first day the pandemic hit, and before anyone could call the pandemic a pandemic, we have been grappling with Covid, Covid and more Covid. And therein lies the problem.

‘What do you mean?’ asked the deputy editor. “We couldn’t have crammed more into the virus, given that it already takes up every column inch of the newspaper.”

“Exactly,” said the E-in-C. “And what do you think will happen if, and when, the damn virus, and everything related to it, disappears as suddenly as it came? All that column inch space we gave it will become as vacant as a 500-seat banquet hall in a red alert lockdown area. What are we going to fill all this empty space with? This is the problem.’

There was a suitably empty silence in the conference room. The silence was finally broken by the advertising manager. “Ads,” he said. “We could always fill it with ads.”

The E-in-C heaved a resigned sigh. “I wish we could,” she said. “The problem is that the ads have to be separated from each other by something called news. I believe that’s a legal requirement of the Press Trust, or something like that. What- what do we put in all these empty holes?

There was another period of empty silence. The E-in-C, and some of the others present, recalled the resounding silence about absence that had hung like a giant question mark over the nation at a particular time in its history: After Nehru, who ? Now a similar question mark hung over the media: After Covid, what? Or, to put it another way: was there life after coronavirus? This was a moot point of the utmost importance.

Admittedly, when everyone started to think that the virus was finally running out of steam, it somehow managed to gain a second or even a third wind, and came back with a vengeance in the form of a new variant, like Omicron, and Flucron, which was a combination of flu and Omicron.

But like all things that only come to pass, the Coronavirus, too, must eventually pass. And when it did, what would replace it in the realm of public and private discourse? Was there any news after the Covid? The silent question hung over the room like a sword of Damocles.

“There is always Pakistan,” finally ventured the head of the office. Indeed, there has always been Pakistan. The thing about Pakistan is that you couldn’t say anything about it without bringing in Kashmir, and the only people who could do that were authorized Kashmir experts. When the pandemic not only grabbed the headlines, but seized them in a stranglehold on Full Nelson, all Kashmir experts became coronavirus experts overnight, and the LoC became the line of Covid.

So not Pakistan. Similarly, all the other usual suspects – cabinet reshuffles, national elections,

, the stock market, Bollywood gup-shup… What’s left…?

“China,” said the E-in-C. “Isn’t that where the coronavirus came from, by all accounts?” And what about a Chinese meal? That right after you’ve had one, you’re ready for another. And what is true of meals could apply to other things Chinese.

“You mean we might have another takeout Chinese, so to speak, that will literally go viral?” asked the editor.

“Not takeout,” said the E-in-C. ‘Strictly home delivery…’

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