Saturday, December 12, 2009

Frontpages and advertisements

One senior journalist in Kerala expressed his shock at seeing the front page of 'The Hindu' on December 4 morning. Apparently, the whole page was split down into two in the middle by a huge "hit on the face" Ad by Uninor GSM.

I can understand his shock. I guess this is the first time The Hindu is running such an ad on its front page.

However, what I found more disturbing (difficult to feel 'shocked' with anything that the media does these days) was Sri Lankan government's series of big front page advertisements that the same newspaper carried with its chief editor's name on it (even the photographs were credited to N. Ram) more than an year ago. Below are some of them.

The Hindu front page, 2008 October 17

The Hindu front page, 2008 October 29

Editorial page, same day


The Hindu front page, 2009 July 6

Compared to all this, I find a "hit on the face" commercial quite harmless. It is not even paid news, as it demarcates itself clearly as an advertisement.

Even outside the Sri Lanka episode, I think it is dangerous to ascribe a holier than thou status to The Hindu. They claim that themselves, and we somewhere accept it too. Despite N. Ram's CPM credentials (or owing to it?), I have felt that they have very Tamil Brahmin sensibilities. The Sri Lanka episode could be read as a part of it.

(Btw it is fun to listen to some Iyers and Iyengars swearing by the 'real' English language that The Hindu uses:-))

In Delhi or Bombay, Times of India or Hindustan Times carry full-page ads on their front page quite often. I am no big fan of those newspapers either, but at least they do not come with the pretensions of being 'the serious newspaper'.


scorpiogenius said...

Still THE HINDU can clearly be said as the 'lesser of the evils'. News-in-whole sale is not something I've heard the newspaper being accused of :)

Sudeep said...

Dear Scorpio genius,

We have to check if "news in wholesale" is THE worst form of irresponsible journalism.

Recently there was another round of discussions on this subject on a mailing list, which threw up some interesting points. I quote some of them below, without taking names.

* * *

"It is really disturbing --
Hindu blacks out KETAN ISSUE after 1 day,
Still carrying Dinakaran after 1 year.
Spoke to N RAM on vaccine fiasco --
A person who spend lots of spaces in a 40 crore
bofors scandal is reluctant to spend a few pages
for 50 crore vaccine scandal
I would like to call it as VEGETABLE JOURNALISM.
It is really disturbing."

* * *

"Why would The Hindu continue to persist with Praveen Swami's false reportage? Either the newspaper is innocent of his falsehoods, which is not the case, because I know for a fact that at least two leading personalities of India, including Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court Advocate, have formally met N. Ram and given him a dossier of proofs against Swami's reportage.

So the only surmise left to make is that The Hindu continues to publish Swami's fabricated reportage knowingly and deliberately. This casts a serious shadow on the ethics of a newspaper such as The Hindu, especially since Swami's reportage fuels sectarian hatred against India's largest minority, the Muslims, who number at least 150 million.

Praveen Swami's works are not in the realm of opinions or comment. They are false reporting. Period. They are lies. His constructs are as true as are the protestations of innocence on the part of Narendra Modi over his involvement in the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002."

* * *

" of the sacred principles is that you attribute all your
comments/facts, etc, to some source, because you are not an omnipresent entity like God. Hence you ave to quote sources.

This Swami is the only person who claims to be a journalist who goes without observing this principle. If you have time, please go and read this article, To Bangalore with Hate. You will be surprised such a racist piece with a clear idea to tarnish an entire community (here the Malabar Muslims) can be published in any responsible newspaper."

Sudeep said...

Some more:

"Indeed, all newspapers and television channels in English and Hindi publish without questioning whatever the security establishment feeds them about those suspected of carrying out terrorist activities.

Prof. SAR Geelani has a case against the Hindustan Times in a Delhi court for publishing falsehoods about him when he was facing trial as an accused in the infamous Parliament Attack of 2001. For more than seven years, HT has refused to even send a lawyer to represent it in the court. As we know, Prof. Geelani was honourably acquitted by the Supreme Court and none of the allegations published in the media against him were found to be true.

The Times of India and Indian Express are no exception. The reportage in The Indian Express over the last six-to-eight months on the Naxals is highly dubious and has included many totally false stories.

Indeed, Arundhati Roy, in interviews with David Barsamian and in various write-ups, exposed the Indian media for publishing falsehoods and lies regularly. We now see very clearly that the Batla House encounter was a concoction.

But what sets Praveen Swami apart is that he writes long edit page pieces pedalling such falsehoods. Let me tell you that six years ago, Swami had published in Frontline an expose of a fake encounter by the Indian Army in Kashmir valley.

But people change."

* * *

"The "stand" taken by The Hindu on Sri Lanka has made it stand on the side of a government committing a genocide of the Tamil people in that nation. A genocide, as we know, is a massacre of a people in large numbers because of their ethnic or religious identity.

The "spiking" of "metro" stories has meant that The Hindu has endorsed the endless torture and incarceration of hundreds of innocent Muslim men, Indian citizens all, on patently false charges of terrorism. Such "spiking" has perpetuated an incorrect stereotype about the Muslims, which has opened them to exploitation by the police across India and caused severe insecurity among them.."