Comparing newspaper news with internet news

This just in: Confucius is still dead. Wait, there's more: Mahatma Gandhi is still dead, too, and nothing has been heard from Ashoka for TWO MILLENNIA. That's my news report, inspired by a recent one which said astronaut Neil Armstrong had died. Thousands of people shared this report over the internet, despite the fact that Mr. Armstrong had died a year earlier.

Why be greedy? One death should be enough for anyone, right? On the other hand, when I die, it would be quite nice if people share the news year after year until a news report eventually appears saying: "Irritating Columnist Continues To Irritate From The Grave: Mass Demo Set For Major Cities Worldwide."

But of course the real message is that you can't trust the news on the Internet, which I know will come as an astonishing surprise to everyone.

Yet it IS scary when you think that the web is where most people get their news these days. As a scientific experiment, I decided to compare the top items of actual news in physical newspapers with the top news items on the internet on one particular day.

At the international newspaper stand at the railway station I wrote down the front page stories: political upheavals, civil wars and of course the United States' Mass Shooting of the Week, a weird tradition they have there, guaranteed by their most important law, the Second Ablution to the Fourth Adjustment of the Fifth Abatement or some such thing.

Back at the office, I looked up top items for Google News Trends for random places. US: Rejoicing as new violent computer game launched. Singapore: Rejoicing as new violent computer game launched. India: Rejoicing as brown woman wins Miss America contest. Japan: Rejoicing as new ultra-cute computer game about cookies launched.

When World War III is launched, no one's going to actually notice, as they will be reading about computer games and beauty queens. I can't decide whether this is good or bad. We'll soon find out, since the next war may have started. A Chinese newspaper recently announced that China's military had developed the capability to drop TV shows from fighter bombers. No, I don't mean they will throw actual TV presenters out of airplanes, although I suspect everyone on the planet would applaud that one, including Mother Teresa watching from her cloud.

Instead, warplanes will take over all TVs and computers beneath their flight path and beam their own programmes into them in a "psychological warfare" technique to "give the enemy nervous breakdowns", the Global Times said. Having tried to watch Mainland China TV myself once, I can confirm that a dose of 90 seconds caused severe mental pain and after three minutes I felt so suicidal that I actually ate the Beijing hotel café's Daily Special.

Yet I'm not sure how hard it was for military scientists to develop this system, since it actually happens by itself. At a British funeral recently, the nephew of the dead man went to the pulpit to deliver a eulogy but the words that came from the sound system were: "Fasten your seatbelts." It probably came from a plane overhead, said the Daily Mail. Or perhaps Neil Armstrong's ghost, popping down to see why he's back in the news.

(20.09.2013 - Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas or comments via www.mrjam.org)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Delhi Daredevils vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

Delhi Daredevils vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

Kohli wins the toss and puts Delhi into bat. Chris Gayle MISSES OUT!!! More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »