Media Matters

Watch John Oliver on what's wrong – and what's right – with newspapers (and why it matters)

The host of 'Last Week Tonight' devoted 20 minutes to what will happen if the problems of journalism aren't fixed.


John Oliver has often claimed not to be a journalist. He is more of a comedian, he says. Despite that, the host of Last Week Tonight deeply cares about the media. In a previous episode, Oliver covered the issue of native advertising and how it was compromising the news industry.

This time, in an entire episode devoted to journalism, Oliver bemoaned the demise of local news reporting – and not just because most of Last Week Tonight's facts, figures, numbers and research is based on reports published in local newspapers. His targets: not only media owners unwilling to take risks with local reporting that matters, but also readers everywhere who consume news for free. (Reading this here may appear ironic.)

"Because it affects all of us, even if you are getting your news from Facebook, Twitter, Google and Ariana Huffington's Blockquote Junction and Book Excerpt Clearing House." According to Oliver and the montage that follows, newspapers are cited as the source of news very often.

"Without newspapers to cite, TV news would just be Wolf Blitzer endlessly batting a ball of yarn around."

There was the time when former Tribune CEO Sam Zell told reporters why puppies were just as important as them for covering the Iraq war: "You’re giving me the classic, what I would call journalistic arrogance, of deciding that puppies don’t count...Hopefully we get to a point where our revenue is so significant that we can do puppies and Iraq. OK? F**k you!" In this situation, the future of journalism is Tronc, the future of content, which no one, Oliver included, can make head or tail of.

The lack of news reporters in government meetings has created a situation which, predicts David Simon, the writer of The Wire, will be "one of the great times to be a corrupt politician".

As usual, Oliver ended the episode with a celebrity spoof. This time, it was Spotlight in the age of clickbait.

The result? There will be no Spotlight in the future. Instead, there will be "Stoplight: He tried to break the news" because more important than unending corruption in the government is a raccoon-cat video that will "get them the clicks".

What about journalism in India? Says rural journalist P Sainath, the founder of People's Archive of Rural India, the digital news site with stories from rural India, "You've got a society that is incredibly diverse, heterogenous and complex and you have got a media that is shrinking to narrower and narrower control."

On being asked about the business model for his archive, Sainath says, "I don't have one. Which work of art would be in existence if the creator were to have a business model? If Valmiki had to get approval for the revenue model before writing the Ramayana...I know one guy who had a very good revenue model. It worked for 40 years – his name was Veerappan."

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.