Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Is Kala Kaumudi White-Washing Blackened Public Figures?

The Media can survive only through honest and responsible reporting. It is true that ‘responsible and authentic reporting and cross-checking before publishing is very difficult, but sensationalizing news is very easy. So, media reporters in Kerala, India, go after sensationalization of news, or they just invent news where none exists. The Governor of Kerala P Sathasivam’s observation that print media is loosing ground to the unimaginable developments in information technology and the high literacy rate in Kerala prevent print media from loosing ground is also right. But, whether the print media of Kerala would take these observations seriously and revert to its old truthful reporting style is doubtful. Ignorance, laziness and arrogance of Kerala’s journalists- young and old- have gone to such extremes that a return to former self is no more possible. Most of them degraded themselves as propagandists and pen-pushers for the rich, the handsome and the powerful. We shall examine the attitude of Kerala’s print media to such dire warnings, by examining one single issue of a once-popular magazine of Kerala. The magazine is Kala Kaumudi Weekly and the issue number is 2066 of 2015 April 15. We know this weekly was once famous for its authentic reporting. It’s Editor Mr. M S Mani and Sub Editor Mr. N R S Babu made public for the first time in a unique article of its kind the stories of how state ministers and top bureaucrats of Kerala stole into wild reserves under the title Kaattu Kallanmaar [Wild Thieves]. The fine literary reviews of Prof. M Krishnan Nair were also read in that weekly. Mr. S Jayachandran Nair’s editorials also were noted. But what kind of things is now happening in this publication, for example? The issue under scrutiny proves beyond doubt that it is now devoted entirely to white-washing blackened public figures and senior government officers. Pages 16 to 19 is titled ‘V C Not Unqualified, Sir’, arguing that Vice Chancellors of Universities needn’t be Professors and can be IAS Officers. Why this untimely and irrelevant article? For answer, go to pages 48 and 49 where a retired IFS officer regularly writes columns after retirement and whose appointment by Oommen Chandy Government as Chairman of the Higher Education Council of Kerala resulted in the Government of India’s objecting to this posting and withholding central funds, on the grounds that he is not a professor. On March 24, 2015, an internet article titled ‘Victers Educational Channel Falling From The Sky’ appeared, pointing out, how the Channel Chief and the IT @ School Director ran this channel and transmitted DTH against Prasar Bharati Regulations. Within two days, Deshabhimani Daily reported that this channel is out of transmission and accused it of heavy corruption and favouritism. Within a week, the channel and the IT authorities got notices from GOI and had to answer questions from the Public Relations Department, the Education Department and the Ministry of HRD and called an All Staff Meeting. IT Director Mr. K P Noufal also sought expert help from outside. As diversionary tactics he came up with Digitizing School Textbooks Project and media covered him liberally. English Malayala Manorama Online even published his article under Editorials. Kala Kaumudi in the issue under this examination devoted pages from 24 to 27 to white- wash him and Mr. Salin Mankuzhy, the channel chief on deputation. Remember that the channel head was a co-traveller of Kala Kaumudi Magazine in the past. If Mr. Noufal obeys the instructions of this ‘expert’, this extra-governmental nexus can get him posting as the Higher Education Director. So, you get the picture? This is what they call power journalism now!

[In reply to news article ‘Governor stresses need for authentic reporting’ dated 13 April 2015 in English Manorama Online]

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