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News and Gossip.

posted Oct 31, 2020, 3:09 PM by Upali Salpadoru   [ updated Oct 31, 2020, 3:10 PM ]

What is gossip?  Aimless chit chat of the idlers, used to kill the time? A fair definition I suppose. But let us delve into this further.

A nonclassical definition for news could be, “What the TV and Radio announces at the newshour”. News paper headlines could also be added. Generally all main media attempts to be within perfect accuracy as they may lose credibility and even get  sued if they falsify them.

Fig. Segmentation of news.

All news can be cast into  two segments as  Global and local. Important events that will affect  a greater part of the wide world are global news. For example if WHO reports on the Covid 19 pandemic it will  spread all over the world whereas the results of the cannabis referendum in New Zealand would be a local issue. The segmentation may continue as Provincial news, City news or regional news. Anything smaller would become gossip?  Are you shocked or surprised? So news about people around you, your relations, friends , colleagues and other acquaintances could be gossip. 

Let us look at it from another angle; for example if your boss Mr. Simpleton has taken his private secretary Daisy for a Dinner dance, Commenting, chatting or reporting this will be gossip. Next week they get married. You may wish to organise a reception for the couple. For which category would you put announcing this event ? Talking about this will still be gossip, but it is not bad unless you neglect your duties while doing so. Spreading personal news among friends, relatives and others, close to you is essential. Interactions between the members of a community or a tribe by human speech is a unique achievement of human beings. Seeking knowledge is crusial for gaining experience and maturity.. Reading books on facts and fiction , watching movies and drama are all extensions of this urge.

While gossip is a tool that can radically change the respect or popularity of an individual, party or an ideology they also have a beneficial effect on society. In earlier times, in Sri Lanka if somebody acts contrary to the ideals of the society an anonymous  poem (Kavi kola) gets pasted on trees. In Nigeria a masquerade act takes place to punish the culprit.

The mode of gossip also matters. It is generally face to face loose talk or chat.  In this case the body language of the narrator reveals a lot of unspoken words. If you are getting the message by a phone extrapolation of the fact is possible only through the tone. Moreover lengthy phone calls can even become a nuisance. if you have no interest in the matter. But on the other hand direct messages through a phone are more reliable, provided the caller can be identified, than the rumours that come across the grape wine.

Nowadays there are more modern ways of spreading gossip, that's through social media such as Facebook and YOUtube. According to a survey by the ‘Pew Research Centre’ only about 28% of adults consider social media to be very important for helping them keep up with news. This of course varies widely from country to country.

A society I know, In their  get togethers prior to the proper programme, they  give a few minutes for the members to engage in gossip. One may say, “You know, my grandson stood up even before his first birthday”.  or another will announce, “My daughter Nelia has at last  found a boy.  They may get married next year”. Nobody can object to this kind of gossip but remember there is a limit.   


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