“Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful” said Molly Ivins , an American newspaper columnist, author, political commentator, and humorist. In the book, The World Is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman talks about how technology is creating an even playing field for all human beings in the world. And when two such empowering forces of satire and technology meet, it creates a deadly combination. This is evident from the success of websites such as The Oatmeal, The Onion and our very own Faking News , Unreal Times and News That Matters Not.
In India, Faking News , Unreal Times and News That Matters Not have been immensely successful in getting their users engaged by having topics that everyone can relate to. The content on these sites is relevant to the readers and makes a point while being funny and humorous. The success of these sites can be attributed to the creativity of the editors who create content that is not funny or absurd for the sake of it. It is genuinely funny and has satire is so close to reality that a number of their posts were mistaken to be real.
Faking News was started by Rahul Roushan, a former journalist who goes by the pseudonym Pagal Patrakar in 2008. On 31st May 2013, it was announced that Faking News had been acquired by Network 18-led First Post. The acquistion signifies the growing importance of the “parody” media along with the mainstream news media.
For IIM alumni C S Krishna and Karthik Laxman, it was “boredom” that saw them launch their portal The Unreal Times: the duo was doing work for the BJP’s Yashwant Sinha on an alternate budget for India, one that was of course not presented in the public domain.To distract themselves from the “mentally draining” work, they wrote a piece on “how dropping money bags from the sky was the best way to implement a direct cash transfer program for poverty alleviation”. It was received well and that is how The Unreal Times was born.
By and large, these satirical projects have faced surprisingly few problems. One reason is their choice of English, rather than Hindi or a regional language. This makes them a relatively niche product, for the time being. The huge success of these websites in India only proves that this form is media is here to stay and will only grow from here on in a country like India.