In a first, the defence beat of the English news channel Times Now has been automated. Instead of hiring pesky reporters who make a song and dance about verification and corroboration, the channel has turned to an AI-based approach and hired the US-based app WhatsApp as its national security editor.
The editorial appointment yielded a glorious harvest last evening, when Times Now reported the names of 30 Chinese soldiers who were killed during a violent clash with our soldiers in Ladakh. It was a "Times Now Newsbreak".
Anchors Rahul Shivshankar and Navika Kumar read out the names on air.
Here's the tl;dr version.
Though fact-checkers at Alt News pointed out that by WhatsApp was a tiresome fake, sources told us that Shivshankar found the arrangement “an anti-neanderthalic technological breakthrough”.
“Yes, the scoop was entirely fake,” a source at the channel said. “But this AI experiment has only been artificial so far, not intelligent. We’ll get there.”
The messaging app had earlier freelanced with the channel — — but senior editors at Times Now thought it could brush up its skills under Shivshankar’s mentorship. “Truthful or not, if it can even report garbage in a matter-of-factly, solemn manner, like Rahul, we are game,” said our highly placed source.
The channel, however, masterfully avoided any allegation of propagating false news related to the deaths of Indian soldiers. As the segment ended, Navika clarified that the scoop by their newly minted editor could be “fake”.
“If she added a caveat after blaring sensational fake news for several minutes, I guess that’s cool,” our highly confidential top source told us. “Though, I should add a caveat: the disclaimer about the scoop being fake can be fake too.” Had the channel still not bothered to verify this? “We are in the business of advertising man. News happens on the side and we are a busy lot.”
Newslaundry has learnt that Thyrocare, the show’s advertiser last night, was impressed with the segment. “We are in the business of pathology labs and this is the sort of pathology we applaud,” said a person there, on the condition of anonymity. “It’s bringing us dividends.”
We reached out to Times Now’s Srinjoy Chowdhury for comment, but he pushed and shoved us aside.
This piece is satire inspired by real life events.
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