My Thoughts on Integrity in News

Adi Sircar
3 min readAug 19, 2021


Chiku and Piku were my pet parakeets as a young boy. I lived in an immigrant neighborhood with Guatemalans, Filipinos, and Sri Lankans, that hugged Gallows Road, the end of which, as the legend goes, criminals were once sent to be publicly hanged. There was a hospital a short walk away, where my brother was born after I spent seven glorious years playing with my own legos, power rangers, and soccer balls. I recall crying after helplessly chasing after my bouncy ball which fell in the sewer, likely to be eaten by an alligator as my imagination would’ve put it; I cried when I fell off my bike and scraped my knee, utterly shocked to see my beige skin turn white and then suddenly red, with a maze of blood cascading down my leg; and I cried whilst being dragged out of the library by the assistant principal because I was stubborn and irreverent and naughty and I gravely needed to keep reading and learning. I haven’t changed much at all.

Chiku and Piku, like most birds, would sing to us, chirp to each other, flap their wings, play with toys, eat, drink, and poop — a lot. Their poop would fly in all cardinal directions and all physical dimensions and fall out of the cage, forever etched in the history of our carpet. We couldn’t afford a vacuum good enough to clean the frightening accumulation of bird waste. My mother started covering the bottom and sides of the cage with old newspapers to catch their droppings. Every day, she’d toss out the dirty newspaper and replace it with a clean one. Chiku and Piku soon came to love reading about monetary policy and solving crossword puzzles.

Chiku and Piku love monetary policy and crossword puzzles.

Modern news is the newspaper under Chiku and Piku’s cage — full of shit. At first, there’s a truth to what’s written — something happened in the world that’s worth writing about. But then Chiku poops on it, and Piku drops some of his own, the journalist joins in, the editor rearranges and compartmentalizes it, the advertisers litter it further, then the publisher mass produces and distributes the fecal matter, and finally, the comment section deposits a diverse dump covering nearly every texture, color, and aroma that’s physically possible.

Sir Winston Churchill wrote it best:

Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it. But there it is.

News culture today is panicked, ignorant, and malicious. We read sensational headlines and jump to conclusions; we disregard data and make up our own evidence; and we surrender our wit to fake news and misinformation — we are all trapped in thought cages.

“News without trust is a carnivore without teeth.”

The neighborhood of news today is like the one I lived in as a young boy. Bezos, Murdoch, and Bloomberg are my Guatemalan, Filipino, and Sri Lankan neighbors and I’m the man in chains being sent to the gallow.

Truth doesn’t have to be controlled by wealthy elites, old college professors, or loud pundits. What if we decentralize news? If everyone is a journalist, we can fact-check each other and arrive at the truth together. We can use blockchain technology to verify news just like we verify transactions, creating a public ledger of trust.

So far, we’ve rewarded whoever got it first. It’s time to reward whoever gets it right. Honesty in news is how we can finally break free from our chains of panic, ignorance, and malice. Together we can create a culture of integrity in news.

Kudos to making it to the end! This is my first post to Medium so kindly let me know what you think. I don’t write often so I want to improve my style and voice. Leading up to this piece, I thought a lot about news culture and integrity when reading about the Haiti assassination, markets, and the global syndemic. I suddenly had a random memory of my parakeets as a child and the metaphor just followed. Check out my website! It’s still under construction so forgive me.