Load-Shedding At The Telegraph

Why did Kolkata’s largest-read English newspaper decide to black out all news of the Kejriwal allegations against Reliance?

Every news channel and newspaper worth its salt has been discussing, reporting, analysing and sometimes denouncing the allegations made against Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance by Arvind Kejriwal. Everyone that is, other than The Telegraph. It’s bad enough that there were no newspapers in Calcutta or as we like to call it, Kolkata, for the four days of the Durga pujo. So it really started feeling like you were sitting in a black hole. But now, when the papers are back up and running, Kolkata’s largest-circulated English newspaper seems to have decided to indulge in a little gate-keeping.

So if you were dependent on The Telegraph for keeping up to date with current affairs in the country, more fool you. While even the Reliance-funded Network 18 was reporting on Arvind Kejriwal’s allegations against Reliance, The Telegraph has still not printed one single word on the matter.

The argument that news of the press conference which took place on October 31st wasn’t reported on November 1st because the paper might have put their news pages to bed early doesn’t hold. Simply because on November 2nd, the paper carried the news of the gas price hike being put on hold – on their front page. An announcement which had been made at 11pm on November 1st, the night before.

Even if they disagreed with the allegations or maybe felt bad that poor Mukesh bhai was being picked on by Kejriwal, they should have at least reported on the matter – even if as a snippet – on November 2nd. The reporters and the news desk surely must have been awake then. But no such luck. While they did report on Bata profit growing by 5% and even had a story on Bond babes – no word on RIL, Mukesh Ambani or Kejriwal.

So what’s the reason? Lazy journalism? Gate-keeping? Misplaced loyalties? Whatever it be, the function of a newspaper is to report the news. Not black it out – unless it will result in communal unrest or incite violence. And even that would require censorship and not gate-keeping. Nothing can explain the sudden silence from the usually hawk-eyed The Telegraph. Maybe the editorial team could light a “hurricane lamp” as we’d use in the days of power-cuts and load-shedding in Calcutta, and throw some light on the matter.

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  • Aman Dogra

    Maybe Mithun Charaborty was away vacationing in London if you know what I mean.

  • Paromita Sharma

    Here is another observation on Kolkata’s ‘The Telegraph’ – over the last one year, the newspaper has published a number of uncritical / feel-good / fawning reports regarding Ayesha Sultana nee Sharmila Tagore and her children Sajid aka Saif Ali Khan and Saba Ali Khan.

    On 25th October 2011, an article by Rasheed Kidwai was on Saba’s “job” as the muttawali of Bhopal’s Auqaf-e-Shahi. How such a “job”, which has little secular significance, deserves to be reported (that too with a photograph) only Telegraph’s editor can tell. Moreover, Saba was quoted as saying “I follow Islam. My father took care to prepare me for the role.” Why she was not asked about her mother’s Hindu origin only the reporter can tell. Although the mother has discarded Hinduism and embraced Islam, is it too much to expect the children not to ignore one religion altogether and flaunt the other? After all, India is a secular country and this is the 21st century.

    On 16th October 2012, the newspaper reported, “At the Pataudi family’s Ibrahim Palace in Haryana, a Milad sharief (remembrance of Prophet Mohammad) was organised on Sunday morning to seek divine blessings for the bride and the groom. Saif’s mother Sharmila Tagore played host. A Quran Khani (recitation of the Holy Quran) too was organised at the Raisen dargah in Madhya Pradesh, about 45km from Bhopal.” Once again, no question asked why only Muslim rituals were observed when the bride – Kareena Kapoor Khan – was non-Muslim.

    On 17th October 2012, the paper reported, “Kareena, who is a practising Christian, was earlier thought to have preferred a wedding without conversion. But late tonight, sources said, she was not ruling out a rethink, possibly to nip in the bud a potential controversy. . . Scholars explain that nikaah is a public declaration of a couple to live as man and wife and promise to live according to the Islamic faith. A qazi, assisted by two witnesses who are usually close relatives of the bride and the groom, take their consent and declare the couple married. A dua follows, in which all present seek divine blessings for the newly-weds. . . Old-timers in Bhopal recalled how Begum Sajida Sultan had given Sharmila a new name after she converted to Islam, calling her Ayesha in remembrance of the Prophet’s wife Bibi Ayesha, considered the most learned and pious lady in Islamic history. Sharmila will host a dawat-e-walima — an important tradition dating back to Prophet Mohammad’s era in which the groom’s side invites relatives and friends to welcome the bride — at Pataudi palace . . . If a nikaah takes place, it is expected to be solemnised by the same qazi who presided over Sharmila and Tiger Pataudi’s wedding.” This language raises a number of questions. Why were the paper’s sources not asked exactly how a wedding without conversion would create a potential controversy? Why were the paper’s scholars not asked whether it is really required for a couple to live according to the Islamic faith in a secular country? Why were the old-timers how Sharmila’s own mother felt when her daughter was given an entirely new name? Why did the paper not ask Sharmila (present name Ayesha) about not following any Hindu custom although she had been born a Hindu?

  • Trina Mukherjee

    When a Kashmiri cleric with a follicular disorder finally decides to grow a beard, The Telegraph takes it upon itself to report the news as if it is a matter of grave importance. There is also a follow-up on the rate of progress by the same reporter and that too gets published. No reporting however, on the alleged involvement of the present minority affairs minister K Rahman Khan in Waqf scam. Not once!

    Blatant and belligerent tom-toming of the Congress line, a total black-out of the allegations (many of which are backed by sound proof) against the unofficial “first family” of India by Dr. Swamy, reveals a very biased nature of reporting that this newspaper has adopted of late. The National Herald House issue has not been mentioned even in passing, leaving very little doubt about whose pockets this newspaper happens to be in at the moment!

    The Telegraph is indulging in selective reportage and purposefully keeping its readers in the dark, a darkness reminiscent of the emergency! Crying shame.

  • Amit

    Sold out to MA