Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Telegraph, Kolkata - CROOKED PRICK of the year

Having been a reader of the Kolkata telegraph since their launch in 1982, I have been a witness to multiple metamorphosis’ that the newspaper has gone through over the years. From being a upstart competitor to a serious, high-brow paper like Statesman in the eighties , it waded through milestones of circulation numbers in the nineties to become the number one English daily in Kolkata supported by billboards screaming the “Unputdownable” punch line . It offered a good sports & a book review page with separate news pages for local, national & international. The edit page had quality guest columnists debating over myriad issues over national importance. The editorials themselves were a shade mediocre , offering moderate depth but enough width to interest teenage readers to the middle-aged.

Somewhere in this decade , in their battle to stay ahead in the circulation race; they lost the edge in the ethics of journalism. The paper became sensational with their headlines often resembling the tabloids. News items , apparently authentic, seemed to be concocted in the desk . The quality of reporters & reporting was deteriorating constantly .

But it continued in their saga unchallenged in a state where mediocrity is often the norm, till some blogger from Goa sent a concocted press note to the telegraph detailing the arrest of a Nazi war criminal from Goa.
Read the story here & the press-note at the bottom of the story

The Telegraph did not verify the story. On the contrary they added their own concocted masala , put in a graphic of trail & printed the story on FRONT PAGE on 30th June (can you beat it?). Read it here. The paper thought that it was doing a smart job by not printing the press-note verbatim and hence modified it with suitable quote from official sources and all these in Monday, front page.

Surely, the editor must take the blame for such a blasphemy. The present editor , Rudrangshu Mukherjee, is reputed to be an intellectual teacher-historian of repute with his penchant for authentic research. But a cursory scan of the headlines & front page of the newspaper for last 6 months will inform you the contrary. The expose made by the bloggers have proved that there is no research, no verification of facts and the “sources” quoted are merely concoctions of the prejudices of the reporters and the editor. The headlines are sensational , school-boyishly rebellious and lack any authenticity.

Curiously, after the prank was open, The Telegraph came out with another follow-up, full of lies and no apologies for a wrong story. Very aptly, the same bloggers have decided to award The Telegraph as the “Cocky, ribbed, crooked PRICK” award after their expose. Read details of Telegraph’s gaffe out here & the justifications of the award .

The owners of Telegraph had , a few years back, commissioned Mckinsey to do a review of the paper’s financial health. It brought in some highly-paid , professional slave-drivers ( read managers) from Unilevers to head the marketing departments. All those efforts have culminated in producing the garbage that the Telegraph is today. It can’t be even used as a toilet paper.

Like the state government, like the state’s largest circulated English daily! Arrogance, stupidity, mediocrity & lies all mixed into one!

Its high time that the editor of The Telegraph be held responsible for fooling the readers day in & day out . Rudrangshu needs to be booted out and the editorial needs to be handed over to some responsible journalist , who can bring back the old glory of the daily.

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