Stories about newspaper

Media and the national interest

When talking about the role of Pakistan’s media in the aftermath of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad in a unilateral action, I recall English poet John Milton’s words: “When complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil liberty attained, that wise men look for.” The role of our national media became very significant, not just after OBL’s death, but immediately after the 9/11 attacks, which changed public opinion not only in Pakistan, but also across the globe. In terms of the war on terror, the media has strengthened democratic ...

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The market for conspiracy theories

What was limited to marginal audiences in the past has now transformed into a huge commodity. Following every ‘big’ incident in any part of the world, it sells the most – conspiracy theory. In Pakistan, conspiracies theories are constantly evolving. You can get to any conclusion whatsoever, and come up with any analysis on a given situation. It will sell, provided you have a platform to market your theory. The favourite platform for a conspiracy theorist is a television talk show. The real disseminators of such theories, however, are local language newspapers. Deriving their credibility from the conspiracy-theory-based talk shows, the vernacular ...

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Mirror images of your interview subject

Some beat reporters end up looking like the people they cover after a brief period of time. Like married couples who tend to resemble each other physically and in mannerism as they age together, reporters too tend to look like police inspectors, politicians, civil servants, judges and in some cases even like criminals and militants after spending so many hours with them. Cases in point are my own friends in the media industry. A crime reporter boastfully narrated that one time at a restaurant, a waiter was so impressed with his former DG FIA Waseem-Ahmed type looks, complete with a ...

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When you run out of words

If you live in Pakistan, news mostly constitutes of bomb blasts, terror attacks, bomb threats, terror threats, threats in general, people dying, trying to die, failing to live and a whole array of soul-crushing unpleasantries. Why, then, the need for design? Why add the superfluous to poker-faced horrors? It’s serious business, news is. A pink coloured report on how many people died in a particular bomb blast trivialises its seriousness. How would you react if your ailing grandmother decided to wear a Hawaiian hula skirt on her deathbed? This is mostly what I get to hear when I tell people ...

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Who do we write for when we write in English?

So what is the second most oft-asked question of a Pakistani writer writing in English? Of course, the first most oft-asked one — ‘Why do you write in English?’ — is less of a question and more an insinuation, really meaning: ‘Why do you write at all?’ In its more severe (read: honest) manifestations it’s more like: ‘Why don’t you have a real job?’ and ‘Why are you this way?’ But that as it might be, the second-most-oft-asked question is — ‘Who do you write for if you write in English about Pakistan?’, and it haunts local writers writing in English. ...

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Editor’s life: Chopping block

In the course of my daily work, I have to do considerable amounts of editing. This involves not only deleting material, but also at times massively chopping it. This is done primarily for reasons of space, word count issues and sometimes policy as well. The idea is to make what appears in print clear and easy to read, and with no punctuation or spelling errors. I would categorise my editing process into five distinct phases. Denial: Having to cut a 1,000-word press release down to a 70-word brief? I’ll grow old editing this, I tell myself. Maybe if I just ...

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Why pay for online information?

Shortly after the internet revolution, newspapers and magazines were publishing their articles and news online for readers and it was not long before it was necessary for them to have online editions. Publications started competing for more website visitors resulting in the emergence of the e-paper which put a scanned version of the publication online for free viewing. It did not take long for people to become dependent on these free e-papers and many readers cancelled their subscriptions of the print edition. As revenues fell, publishers were left scratching their heads. Had they made a mistake by going online? However, they could not ...

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Sex for sale: Where are we heading?

On a recent trip to a juice shop in Lahore, my husband and I noticed a huge black Cygnus car stop at the turn across the road. After closer observation, we saw two women, both around the age of 25, dressed in bright silk step into the jeep that careened off. Two other women were left behind. After some 20 minutes, they too stepped into a Camry and sped off. My husband and I looked towards each other simultaneously – we knew what we just saw but did not have the guts to admit what was going on so openly at ...

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What really happens in a newsroom

Red, white and black with sub-editors crawling around, The Express Tribune newsroom is like an animal farm coming to life. Enter anytime before 12:00 pm and the place will be dead. You’ll probably notice dust balls rolling around or a thick layer of dust on the keyboards. After 3:00 pm, the subbers start arriving. With a flash of pink or a dash of some other eye-blinding colour, and the clink clonk of the keyboard, the newsroom slowly starts coming to life. By 4:00 pm everyone is trying to finalise their slug sheet. (A slug sheet is a sheet (duh!) with a rough idea ...

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Islamabad Dateline: New paper on the block

The already saturated print market is to see the launch of yet another newspaper. The editor of upcoming paper, Islamabad Dateline tells me that the paper will begin distribution early next year (they have already begun dummy runs). But, I am curious to see if a city paper will be able to compete with existing national dailies. As a new entrant into the media industry, who is perhaps not old enough to resist innovation, I think Islamabad Dateline has two points in its favour: sixteen pages of localised content and the fact that it will be published six days a ...

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