Changes in the media are in the air. This is attributed to competition. Competition primarily from the television channels which are drawing more and more viewerships. For the print media the option is: Change. No change means slow collapse. Pick up a copy of the Mumbai-based The Free Press Journal. It has changed beyond imagination in layout, design, news copy and editorial approach. Now much same has happened to Hindustan Times starting with June 2, 2006.
Two innovations are immediately noticeable. The first innovation is HT2 Business & World, an 8-page pullout about business and world news, views and trends. There is a reader-friendly stocks page and a weekly spread on personal finance with elaborate mutual funds listings. The number of World Pages has been increased but one has to wait for several issues before any comment is made on the in-depth coverage of world events.
The second innovation is Hindustan Times on Saturday. The edit-page is revamped. But does revamping the page help when what one is more concerned with is editorial opinion? If this remains weak or recklessly subjective, how does it help in modeling public opinion? Bigger headlines, more colour, larger-sized pictures are all meant for morons. What matters is, in the end, quality. Reporting is coloured. The anti-Narendra Modi line persists-and it is sickening. The lead story on the first freshly designed issue (June 2) shows this clearly. How often should one warn journalists that what happened in Gujarat following the Godhra torching of the Sabarmati Express coaches can in no way be described as a ?pogrom??
When will the ?Hate-Modi? campaign being run by Hindustan Times cease? The lead story in effect absolves terrorists of their murderous game by suggesting that it was a reaction to the Gujarat ?communal pogrom.? ?Intelligence Experts?-never mind if they are the invention of HT'sreporters and do not exist – are quoted as saying that ?hate is fuelled by actions like Modi'sannouncement of a Rs.10 lakh reward to the police unit that shot dead the alleged terrorists in Nagpur?. ?Alleged terrorists?? What on earth is that? Are HT reporters joking or on cocaine? What should gangsters armed to their teeth with SE-47 rifles, hand grenades etc be called? The Congress Chief Minister of Maharashtra also has offered awards to the cops who killed the terrorists.
But why should Modi be singled out as the root cause for Pakistani hatred? Hindustan Times has been a leader in sponsoring the ?Hate-Modi? campaign, which is the inspiration for ?alleged terrorists?. Isn'tit time our English media is called to order? On May 25, NDTV kept on flashing the headlines, according to a former Member of Parliament, that several tourists dead and injured in Srinagar in a bomb blast were all from Surat and Gujarat. Was it necessary to stress the origins of the dead and injured? Does one have to mention that those dead and wounded were from Gujarat? It will only add to the anger being felt in Gujarat with the way the English media and the television channels have treated Gujarat and Gujaratis.
NDTV has done even worse. It ran an episode showing how Muslims in Gujarat are losing out in business and even in housing. It was vicious way of dividing the people. Presuming it is true, has NDTV bothered to find out why Gujarati Hindus have been behaving the way they are alleged to behave? Could they possibly have any reason? Things were going on smoothly without any tension until the torching of the Sabarmati Express coaches took place. That was clearly the handiwork of Islamic terrorists with the cooperation of the Muslims in Godhra. No matter what has been said by way of excuse for Muslim behaviour, the attack on the train was pre-conceived and led to the burning alive of over 55 women and children. That has constantly been underplayed. Since then Gujarati Hindus have been named as villains, which does no credit either to the English media or to the TV channels among whom NDTV has achieved notoriety. Damning Gujaratis comes easy to them.
Could Gujarati Hindus have possibly any grievance against Muslims that nobody is aware of? Why is the English media constantly going at the throats of Gujarati Hindus? Is the UPA Government aware of what is going on? Is it doing anything about it? An entire State is being damned along with its Chief Minister without any rhyme or reason. Somebody has to call a stop to it. In the name of freedom of the Press and secularism, a vicious propaganda is being run by the English media and NDTV among TV channels that calls for action.
Even the Narmada issue is being taken as a peg to hang the media's?Hate-Gujarat? hat on. So far there has been not a single attempt to study the issue of rehabilitation of the tribesmen displaced in the process of setting up the Narmada Dam or raising its height; no White Paper has been issued. No one knows the correct position. For Gujarat, the Narmada Dam is a Godsend. Obviously it has hurt many thousands, it is not the responsibility just of the Gujarat State. It is the responsibility of the Government of India as well.
We are trying to divide the people of India not only on communal and caste lines but even on linguistic lines and the UPA government must be made fully aware of what is happening under its aegis.
Demonising Narendra Modi may suit the UPA government, but in the end it will be the entire country that will have to pay for the Centre'sfolly. The media has been behaving with an astonishing lack of responsibility, and nobody, so far, has dared to take on the media because politicians are unwilling to get on the wrong side of the media. The media is supposed to be the watchdog of the nation. But if the media behaves irresponsibly who is to be the watchdog to keep a watch on this particular dog? How long is the nation to put up with the ?Hate-Gujarat Pogrom? that is being carried out so ruthlessly and so deliberately by a section of the media? What is the Ministry of Information doing? What is the Press Council doing? And let the Government remember: yesterday the target of the Islamic terrorists was the RSS HQ in Nagpur. No one knows who or what the next target will be in the coming weeks. And the media will say, as Hindustan Times has said that it is all because of Narendra Modi and Gujarat. And that would be exactly what the terrorists want to be said as an excuse for their terrorist activities. Is there a government in Delhi that is aware of the damage that the English media and TV channels are wreaking almost week-after-week? Is there no one to call them to order?