Feature Article

Powers, corporate interests behind personal wars in The Hindu

[TamilNet, Friday, 06 May 2011, 10:53 GMT]
“In a shocking display of bad faith,” N. Ram, who has become the Editor in Chief of The Hindu in 2003, “by stealth,” postpones his retirement agreed upon last year, and “seems bent on taking all the editorial directors—most are in their 50s--into retirement with him with a scorched earth policy to ensure that no one in the family succeeds him,” accuses N. Ravi, who is the Editor of The Hindu since 1991, writing an open letter to media brethren in April in The Hoot, the website of the New Delhi-based Media Foundation. However, Ravi’s long list of accusations that include the projection of Ram as pro-left/ pro-China, has no reference to the role he played against Eezham Tamils, suggesting, Ravi and Ram as well as the forces behind them are the same on the question of the liberation of Eezham Tamils, commented diaspora media circles.

The following are some of the policy issues Mr. Ravi attributed as reasons for the contention:

“Among the issues that I have raised with the other directors during the discussions in the Board and outside are: the unmerited coverage of certain political favourites on specific directions; excessive coverage of the activities of the left and some of its leaders; for reasons that are bound to emerge sooner rather than later, turning the newspaper into an apologist for A. Raja through the 2G scam coverage, remaining deafeningly silent on his resignation in the face of mounting evidence even when demanding the resignation of Suresh Kalmadi, Ashok Chavan and Yeddyurappa in similar circumstances; pronounced pro-China tilt, blacking out or downplaying any news that is less than complimentary to the Chinese Communist regime; and contrary to the practice in any mainline newspaper, the Editor-in-Chief indulging in an unceasing self-glorification campaign, publishing his own ribbon cutting pictures and reports of his activities and speeches with a regularity that would put corporate house journals to shame.”

Ravi also said that pro-left bias of The Hindu was affecting its circulation:

“The Hindu has been losing market share, and from being level with the Hindustan Times, it has now fallen far behind that newspaper. Findings from the most recent market survey present a depressing picture of reader perception of unappealing content and a pronounced bias towards the left.”

“The Hindu as an institution had in the past valued its editorial integrity over all else. In the recent period, editorial integrity has been severely compromised and news coverage linked directly to advertising in a way that is little different from paid news,” Ravi said.

“Very recently, those of us who were not privy to the deal making learnt to our shock that a major interview with A. Raja in defence of the telecom licensing policy published on May 22, 2010—that was referred to by the Prime Minister in his press conference--involved a direct quid pro quo in the form of a full page, colour advertisement from the Telecom Ministry that was specially and hurriedly cleared by the Minister personally for publication on the same day in The Hindu,” Ravi further said.

“This round of turbulence comes at a time when all manner of investors are looking to gain influence and control over the media, Ravi observed and added, “I feel strongly that when a distorted picture has emerged based on selective leaks, information on the happenings cannot be restricted to the confines of the boardroom and all the journalists as stakeholders need to be taken into confidence.”

Ram received Sri Lanka Ratna award from the Colombo government of Chandrika. His bias in favour of the Rajapaksa regime during and aftermath of the genocidal war in Vanni is well known. Tibetan groups in India accuse him for discouraging their struggle. Ram is considered to be associated with a particular shade of communist party in India. But this shade is criticized for its role of operating against the Maoist struggle that is taking place in the tribal belt of India.


External Links:
The-Hoot: War in The Hindu


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