The Asian Age – R. I. P.

On 2nd March 2008, India witnessed the death of a fearless Newspaper. M J Akbar was unceremoniously ousted by the Newspaper which he had nurtured for about 13 years. MJ had to pay the price for being on the wrong side of the establishment. The Asian Age was one of the rare voices in Indian media which was not really impressed by the propaganda of the Government on the Nuclear Deal with United States. Through his columns in the paper, MJ had exposed several drawbacks in the deal. The Newspaper was also critical of the Government on several other issues.

Instead of responding to questions raised by him, the Government chose an easy way out and ousted him from the newspaper. Vijay Mallya, owner of the paper and a Member of Parliament, was too happy to oblige his political allies. MJ learnt of his sacking, while he was on his way to his office. He was informed by one of his colleagues on SMS that his name was missing from the masthead of the paper. This incident is reminiscent of the dark days of emergency when the Government used to deal with defiant editors in a similar fashion.

But what is so surprising is that this important event went unnoticed in the mainstream media. None of the major newspapers found this incident worth covering.  This points to a deeper malaise in our media. In the 1980’s, I am told the editor of The Times Of India  was considered to be the second most important person in the country after the Prime Minister. The Fourth Estate was the conscience keeper of the society. Editors like Kuldip Nayyar, Arun Shourie, Prem Shankar Jha commanded respect because of their integrity and fearless attitude towards the Government of the day. Today, how many of us know the names of the editors of The Times Of India or Hindustan Times, the top two newspapers of the country ?

It is because editorial content or editors have little contribution towards the circulation of the Newspapers that Editors have become irrelevant. Today, it is the marketing department and not the editorial board which runs the show in most of the Newspapers. It is a fact that glossy supplements and sensational news determine the circulation of any News paper. How many of us really care about the unbiasness of any News paper? All we care about is the entertainment value, the newspaper has to offer. We are happy to read about the details of Sanjay-Manyata marriage or some new antic of Rakhi Sawant. The owners of these newspapers are aware of this and are too happy to play to the gallery. Why spend time and money researching on an important issue like the growing agrarian crisis in the country when readers are content to read about the latest development in Kareena Kapoor’s  love life ?

A free and responsible media is the watch dog of the society. MJ Akbar’s exit is a wake up call for all those who believe that we deserve a free and better News Media.

 

Reference Articles:

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main38.asp?filename=hub150308goodbye.asp

http://www.dawn.com/2008/03/15/op.htm

http://www.realpolitik.in/2008/March%2008/Seema%20Mustafa.htm

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8 thoughts on “The Asian Age – R. I. P.

  1. Kudos to you for starting this much awaited thread. I must sadly admit that whatever is being written is true and signifies that media, be it print media or electronic media are gradually loosing their credibilty. They should no longer be considered as the fourth estate of democracy in our country but rather as some source of masala gossip providers.
    Please excuse me for taking this discussion off track but I seriously feel that we also need to discuss about the rapidly deteriorating standard of news channels like Aaj tak, Star News who are taking Journalism to shambles.
    The other day I was stunned to see a news which qualified in Breaking news section of Star news. The Breaking news went as “Commisioner ka khoya hua kutta 6 din k baad mila”. If this was not enough the news channel awarded with best news channel award (yes I am referring to Aaj Tak) projected a news of a Cat being recovered in safe condition when she climbed some structure and came down safely after 6 hours as the breaking news for couple of hours. My brain went comatose when I saw these news to be the breaking news of eminent and leading news channels.
    But I seriously feel that we as a audience are also responsible for taking our media to Doldrums. I say this because we as Indians take great deal of interest when some gossip comes up and are all ears to it. We are pretty much intrested in watching Abhishek and Aishwarya getting married, and at the same time we are hardly bothered about Nuclear deal with US.
    We are intrested in what is happenng with Saif and Kareena’s life and not in ouster of senior journalist like MJ Akbhar.
    We all know that what is being written in newspapers and shown on Tv is cheap journalism and simply gossip. However we still read these newspapers and watch these channels taking their TRPs to all time high and giving them the status of best news channel. Whereas the Newspapers and Newschannels which are still adhereing to true Journalism hardly get any readers or viewers.
    It is only if we stop watching these newschannels and reading these newspapers we can stop the gibberish Journalism

  2. Case in point being 6 journalists covering the farmers suicide in Vidharbha compared to around 521 journalist participating in the Lakme India Fashion Week

  3. Indeed a sad state of affairs…

    But who is to be blamed for this? Newspapers alone? Advertising/Mktg heads of the entities? Media Moghuls?

    What about the readers? How many of us pick up the TOI/Economic Times instead of BT/Mumbai Mirror in the morning? I guess it is people themselves who decide what they want to read about. I aint supporting whatever happened with MJ, but I guess most readers these days are actually more interested in Beckham’s escapades than a Farmer’s suicide. Sad !

  4. I totally agree to all of the commenters. Hats off to you to bring in such a topic for discussion. Let me cite an example. What will a mom do when the child wants to eat a pizza over a roti/dal/sabji? She will try her best to fabricate the food but when the child still doesn’t budge, just feed him with whatever he likes. Atleast she’s happy that the child is eating something! Same applies to the media(mom) and the people(the child). We, as viewers love to switch on to aaj tak and watch cheap acts of Rakhi sawant over a debate on NDTV about the nuclear deal with the US. And the media wants money. They will supply whatever is demanded, following the simple theory of economics. Why go that far? One of my colleague takes plaeasure in watching IndiaTV after a hard day’s work as he thinks its a destressing exercise. A 22 year old individual who’s a hope/faith of Dr. Abdul Kalam is busy putting his mind on the mindless comedy or a page 3 party as against a sensible book or a good editorial. I am not surpised when my dad flicks through two pages and says “newspaper mein kachra hi bhara rehta hai”. He claims of newspapers in his times being the source of awareness! Without deviating much, i think its our primary responsibility to open up our eyes to burning issues. Instances like sacking of fearless minds like MJ Akbar will go unnoticed if we do not stand up and address such issues. Awareness towards the right things is the key for today’s viewers!

  5. Frankly speaking, though being new to blogs (am not shy saying this); this blog is takes a seat on my blog-roll.

    🙂

    Regards,
    Beeping

  6. i am very sad about indian media. as we know the job of media is to inform, educate and entertain the masses but unfortunetly our media is informing and educating in a very negative way. due to competition among themselves indian media does not behave and work like fourth states. the front page of newspaper matters alot and it deserve very important topic and national issues, but world largest selling english newspaper TIMES OF INDIA does not work like world number one because when Salman rushdee’s got divorced from padma laxmi it was appeared on front page of the TOI. i would like to ask who is Salman Rushdee’s that his news about divorced came on the front page of the newspaper. its show that our Editor and journalist does know or forgot the ethics of journalism. just have look how our world number one newspaper works.

    one thing i can say now media is not a source of information, it is a source of propaganda of the political parties and rich people. recently we have seen when the MNS leader Raj Thakre raised the voice against north indian it was only the of cheap publicity and he got the help of media to get this cheap publicity, let me prove that how he got cheap publicity. before this incident people from other states was not aware with the name of Raj thakre even not in maharashta so he wanted to get publicity for the next election and our media is foolish that has given so much coverage that he became the hero. most of the news channels shown the same footage 70 times within 24 hrs.

    really i will suggest to the Editor please go to join a journlism school that you can learn the ethics of journlism.

  7. Good to see Indians noticing BS by main stream media. really really great. blogging is the best…I agree with “all talk no action” its the readers to be blamed not the media.
    Keep internet free and your tube is great.

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