Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Shekhar's Express

Until recently the Indian Express was my favourite newspaper. Unlike the leading "best-selling" newspapers like HT or ToI, it actually gave priority to news over advertisements; it published good investigative reports; it had credible editor in Shekhar Gupta and it had a line-up of the most interesting columnists.

These days IE seems a sad caricature of what it used to be. The only thing IE still has going for it are a handful of its columnists and reporters.   It still puts out 'news' but much of it seems to be peddling the agenda of the powers-that-be. Its investigative reports seem shallow, lacking in any credibility and the editor's weekly column 'National Interest' seems quite the opposite.

Take for instance its strident stance on the Gen. V.K. Singh controversy, topped by that full-front-pager on an alleged coup attempt. It soon emerged that the Express was making a mountain out of a mole-hill. The paper was mocked and chided, even by fellow editors like Vinod Mehta. Instead of coming clean on coup story with some clarifications it is taking Mehta to court!  Strangely, this bit of news is published in all papers - except the Express.

On 28 April, SG's article "With Prejudice" contained a string of factual errors - especially on the role of Sikh Generals during Operation Bluestar. These errors were were pointed out in a rebuttal by M. G. Devasagayam (13 May 2012) who also went on to politely rubbish SG's notion of 'National Interest' . As in the coup-story, the newspaper made no further mention about it, confirming the suspicious that the editor was again taking through his hat, and hoping that the readers suffer from chronic amnesia.

In his latest piece, "The 24th Chief", SG tries to counter a charge made by Gen. Singh that "for journalists, nothing is off-the-record". He says first that journos too have their ethics, that they would never betray anybody's trust. Then, hiding behind a quote from another hack, he adds a veiled threat - that "if a story is good, it will come out", confirming just the point Gen. Singh had made in his interviews.

So much for the 'Journalism of Courage'.



Gupta, Shekhar (2012): With Prejudice, Indian Express, 28 April 2012, URL - http://www.indianexpress.com/news/national-interest-with-prejudice/942607/

Devasagayam, M.G (2012): With No Prejudice, Indian Express, 19 May 2012, URL - http://www.indianexpress.com/news/with-no-prejudice/951159

Rangaswami, Anant (2012): Express Asks for the Mother of All Embarassments, First Post, 16 May 2012 - URL - http://www.firstpost.com/india/indian-express-asks-for-the-mother-of-all-embarrassments-311393.html

Gupta, Shekhar (2012): The 24th Chief, IE 2 Jun 2012, URL - http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-24th-chief/956732/0

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