Stories about newspaper

News, nights and nightmares…

Pakistan. Pkaistan. No! What? Did I just spell my country’s name wrong? Oh wait. No, I not only spelled it wrong, I printed it wrong. Printed it wrong on a newspaper — a national daily newspaper. The entire country is laughing at me. My career is over. I’m switching my phone off. Hibernation. When I wake up, I try to gather the strength to pull myself out of bed. It’s 4:30am. I go outside my apartment door and there is no newspaper. I take a sigh of relief and then I’m simply angry at myself. How can a rational human being let one dream, ...

Read Full Post

What working for a newspaper does to you

It has been over a year since I started editing stories for this newspaper. The job itself is not particularly complex: there are just a few things I need to keep in mind. A shoulder is not something people lean (or cry) on. And datelines have nothing to do with dates. We use British spellings. It’s ‘realised’, not ‘realized’. I must use ‘that’ sparingly. I have to economise on words, as we believe that saying something succinctly is more effective than a verbose treatise that winds and unwinds its way to senselessness. I sometimes fish for catchphrases. I have been made to ...

Read Full Post

Every other rape story in Pakistan

In a small town or village in Pakistan, victim X (perhaps Y and Z too, who may be sisters, mothers or relatives) has [allegedly] been raped, gang-raped, often tortured, sometimes murdered and dumped in a ditch, a well, or close to their home. The actual rape lasts hours, days, weeks or even years. A few lurid, but contained details of the sexual assault go here, with large chunks cut out so as to not offend and/or titillate the readers. Additional details may be dropped because the district reporter’s English is atrocious, and his embellishments are suspect. In fact, the whole story may be ...

Read Full Post

Why butcher the English language? Just speak in Urdu

Walking towards the Select mart at the petrol pump today, I saw a sign on the wall that read “Select Gate” with an arrow pointing towards the right. It took me a while to figure out that they really meant that the door (the “gate”) was to the right. The writers of this sign may be excused for being uneducated people who are unfamiliar with the English language. Being an avid reader and a writer, however, like Henry Higgins, I am particularly sensitive to the abuse of the English language, especially when it comes from someone who really should know ...

Read Full Post

We don’t owe Afghanistan anything

I was studying for a sociology exam when my driver entered my lounge. He immediately asked me to turn on the TV. The first thing that struck my mind was that there had been another bomb blast in Karachi. Fortunately, he only wanted to watch the India versus Afghanistan cricket match. I asked him, You’re a Sindhi. What do you have to do with Afghans? He meekly replied, Sahib, they are our brothers, whereas India is our enemy. I switched off the TV but couldn’t stop thinking about what he had said. Really? Had he just naively been believing all this time that Afghanistan was a friend? The ...

Read Full Post

The great ghairat debate

In the past week, two articles have appeared in this very newspaper on the subject of ghairat. The first, penned by nuclear physicist and prominent progressive Dr. Parvez Hoodbhoy and the second by a journalist, Miss Maria Waqar. Dr Hoodbhoy is of the view that ghairat (honour) and “fake nationalism” (the one that can be witnessed by our chest-thumping TV anchors and Baloongras on Twitter) was one of the cornerstones of fascist societies like Nazi Germany and that as societies moved from tribalism to modernism and now post-modernism, the notions of “ghairat” are anachronistic and will not do us much ...

Read Full Post

Is unbiased news too much to ask for?

Objectivity has always been touted as the golden rule of journalism. A good journalist, we are told, is one that can accurately convey all the facts without any sort of editorial bias. That is a noble notion indeed, but the fact of the matter is that news comes from journalists, and journalists like all human beings, are essentially flawed. They too have strong opinions and viewpoints on matters and events, but it is expected of them to ensure that their personal views do not, in any way, interfere with the impartiality of the news that they are trying to convey. This, of ...

Read Full Post

Who’s keeping the media honest?

There was once a famous conspiracy theory which accused news media of pandering to a select lobby and manipulating the masses. For quite some time, I dismissed such claims as grade ‘A’ YouTube regurgitations. However, as social media evolved and began providing more than just couch entertainment, it became increasingly clear that everything is not black and white. The events of this year, from the Arab Spring to the ongoing ‘Occupy’ protests world wide remind us that technology has, as always, favoured freedom. Real time availability of news from all quarters of the world is a press of a button away on ...

Read Full Post

What the media did not tell you

As always, we have been busy with our usual chronic problems – Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) having a go at each other, the worsening electricity crisis, crying and cribbing over foreign aid, making insane statements that hurt at least one segment of our society and so on. But, while the nation was kept busy with this, there were other serious developments happening on the political front and economic front that our lovely media forgot to tell you about because they either thought it was not news worthy or they just decided that you do not ...

Read Full Post

Riaz wanted to learn English

It was almost 11 years ago when I stopped my car at the Teen Talwar traffic light to be greeted by the usual herd of beggars, windscreen cleaners and newspaper sellers. One of the newspaper sellers, Riaz, a total of four feet in height, asked me for a lift to the Marriot signal. Irritated by the commotion around me, I chose to ignore him. Rather than moving on, he boldly walked in front of my car, locked eyes with me, stuck his teeth out like President Asif Zardari would, if he stared at the sun, and performed a mini-break dance ...

Read Full Post