Friday, June 29, 2007

Is Mathrubhumi a yellow journal?

By John Cheeran
Is Mathrubhumi a yellow journal?
P Jayarajan, prominent leader of the ruling CPI(M) general manager of Deshabhimani has reiterated the charges he made in the Kerala Assembly against the widely respected newspaper. It is interesting to note that the controlling stakes of the Mathrubhumi are with an ally of the LDF government, MP Veerendrakumar, himself a wily politician, now leading a rump of Janata Dal.
CPI (M)’s chief minister V S Achuthanandan, who has been behaving like a factional leader, had quickly clarified in the Assembly on Thursday itself that Mathrubhumi is a respected national daily. It is to be noted that Mathrubhumi has been relentless in carrying stories that hurt the interests of the Pinarayi Vijayan group in particular and the CPI (M) in general.
Jayarajan, himself at the helm of Deshabhimani, has quoted Britannica encyclopedia and NBS Nighandu, to reiterate that Mathrubhumi is a yellow journal. Jayarajan says sensationalism is the hallmark of yellow journalism and Mathrubhumi, by reporting that Deshabhimani has taken Rs 2 crores from a tainted lottery king Santiago Martin in the form of bonds, has invited the charges against it.
Yes, sensationalism is yellow journalism. But who defines what’s sensationalism?
Is telling the truth amounts to sensationalism?
If, then, let’s embrace such journalism. When the Hindu and Indian Express raked up the Bofors scandal was it yellow journalism or a crusade against corruption?
A newspaper’s success should not be measured only in the profit margin column. As long as a newspaper is able to provoke the establishment into rage, as Mathrubhumi has done in Kerala, they should be considered as traveling on the right track.CPI (M), it appears, is afraid of criticism. Of course CPI (M) in Kerala are stung by Mathrubhumi’s criticism.
Having said that I admit that journalists in Kerala often get their stories wrong, much as elsewhere. Just because something has appeared in newspapers such as Mathrubhumi and Malayala Manorama should not be considered as facts.
Take the ISRO spy saga and even the Rajani Anand suicide. Kerala’s newspapers, including CPI (M)’s Deshabhimani had indulged in mindless sensationalism in such cases. But to tar them with the tag of yellow journalism would be missing the wood for the trees.
I thought CPI (M) took pride in claiming that they stood for the people.
Indian Communists had brand-positioned the CPI (M) as People’s Party in the parliamentary shopping shelf .
Why should a people’s party fear a newspaper?
I do not consider Mathrubhumi as a yellow journal. They have a legacy that has been respected by generation of readers. But I also believe that despite two of the strongest newspapers adopting anti-Marxist line for decades, Kerala’s electorate has brought Communists into power, albeit honouring the five-year interregnums.
Readers, after all, are smarter than editors.

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