“With the arrival of some sick minds from the sick newspaper,” a mediaperson said, “the transfusion has unfortunately taken place."
The Express Tribune's Executive Editor M. Ziauddin is a former Correspondent/Resident Editor of Dawn while its City Editor Farman Ali is a former News Editor of Dawn Islamabad.
Another journalist also expressed similar grievances over some reports, columns and blogs of The Express Tribune. He had sent three samples from the newspaper to The Terrorland blogs, seeking "detailed analysis of the sick culture of the old newspaper (Dawn) being developed at the new newspaper (The Express Tribune)." He has requested to publish these articles as well "because some controversial reports after publication suddenly disappear from the website (of The Express Tribune)."
It’s a professional tragedy. But this might not be the dream of the young Publisher, Bilal Lakhani, of The Express Tribune, who is proud of being in association with The New York Times group! Anyway, if you had not seen the ‘malicious’ stories earlier, or were not aware of the 'behind the scene' stories, then let's read the first article in this episode and then analyze it. Here is the article:
Change of editor at English paper
By Omar R Quraishi
Mr Abbas takes over from Abbas Nasir, who himself was appointed as editor in May 2006. Mr Nasir, a former head of the BBC Urdu Service, had taken over from Tahir Mirza, the last of what many thought were the old-style traditional editors of the paper.
Mr Nasir was approached for his comments for this report but declined to respond. He brought in change to the newspaper, particularly as far as salaries were concerned. However, he was also asked to take charge of Dawn News, at that time a fully English news channel, which was struggling. Mr Nasir was seen by many staffers as accessible but at least two rounds of dismissals at the television channel somewhat tainted his staff-friendly reputation.
Under Mr Nasir’s stewardship, changes were brought to the newspaper’s website, www.dawn.com, for which a separate staff and editor were hired. However, there were allegations of favouritism given that the editor, Musaddiq Sanwal, did not have editorial experience prior to this in Pakistan’s English print media, and also happened to be a good friend of Mr Nasir’s.
A staffer who has been working at the paper since 1987 said – he didn’t want to be quoted by name, for obvious reasons – this of Mr Nasir’s tenure: “The man perhaps had too much to do – he started off well by significantly raising staff salaries, but then got bogged down in the Dawn News fiasco, and then over time it seems that the inertia of the organisation overtook the editor and prevented him from doing all the things that we all thought he would do.”
Another staff member, who joined the organisation after Mr Nasir, said: “To his (Abbas’s) credit, he was accessible and encouraging, especially of the lower staff, and he did manage to get some of the deadwood out of the organisation by not renewing contracts of staffers who had reached retirement age.
Zaffar Abbas, the new editor, has previously worked at the monthly news magazine Herald and the BBC. In August 2006, he joined Dawn as resident editor of its Islamabad edition. He was also approached for comments for this report but did not respond. Mr Abbas made his mark as a reporter, first for Herald and later as a BBC correspondent in Karachi and then Islamabad.
Aamer Ahmed Khan, former editor of Herald, and currently the head of the BBC Urdu Service in London, has worked many years with Zaffar Abbas. Of his association with him he said: “Zaffar Abbas has been a key player in Dawn’s editorial strength for as long as I have known him. It is exciting to see a journalist of his experience take charge of one of Pakistan’s best known newspapers in today’s highly competitive environment.”
Another former colleague of Mr Abbas – he was editor of Herald and both him and Mr Abbas worked there at least for around 10 years – is the current editor of The News, Karachi, Talat Aslam. Mr Aslam said: “I have always found Zaffar a solid, reliable and dependable individual and it was very good to have him at the magazine. His feet are firmly on the ground and he would always give us very useful and realistic feedback and assessment. During my time at Herald, I saw Zaffar evolve and grow – though as a person, of course, he never changed. I think he will make a very good editor at Dawn – and it will be good to have a good friend as editor of a rival newspaper.”
Muhammad Ziauddin, Executive Editor of The Express Tribune, said: “I have been watching Zaffar’s career since the early 1980s – since he began at the Star. During his days with Herald in Islamabad we met frequently. He is a top professional and a man of integrity.”
· Saad Durrani: Zafar does bring a lot of expertise on the table. It would be beneficial for not only for the Dawn but for the industry as well.
· Ammar: Quality of programming at Dawn News is terrible now. It’s like a wannabe Geo-tv now.
· Sufi Shams: Zafar Abbas – isn’t he the brother of Maj. Gen Athar Abbas? Wonder what that means for the paper. Also, wonder if Zafar Abbas’s professionalism will mean that the agents of the intelligence agencies will not get printed on Dawn newspaper’s front page
· Ayesha Siddiqa: Abbas Nasir has the honor of contributing to Dawn’s decay. He and his team were responsible for raising a young, cocky and extremely arrogant editorial team which has no sense of respect and lack knowledge. This is what happens when owners begin to temper with the editorial. Dawn moved from Altaf Hussain to Ahmed Ali Khan, and back to the days of Altaf Hussain!
· Meekal Ahmed: I hope the new Editor puts some life into the paper. Over the years I find it to have become dull and on the verge of downright boring.
· Muhammad Ilyas Khan: Omar R Quraishi sb, for me the best days of Dawn were when you were editor of a section of the paper to which I regularly contributed for sometime. I feel you really encouraged and included articles from a wide range of people, belonging to all parts of the country and with diverse backgrounds, completely on the basis of merit and without any favouritism. I don’t feel the same kind of openness, diversity, merit and ‘depth’ in terms of the quality of the material printed on that section of the paper anymore since you departed. I don’t see much ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking or creativity on that page of my interest for a long time now. I wish Dawn regain that glory again in terms of the quality of stuff in its various sections especially its Sunday edition and its section such as EDUCATION, MAGAZINE and Books and Authors. Dawn (when you were there) has played a vital role in the development of my career and in broadening my mental horizens. I owe a lot to this prestigious newspaper and I wish it becomes more open and responsive to the common readers (and contributers) in terms of representing their views on its pages.
· T. Ali: I wish Abbas Nasir good luck and hope that Zafar Abbas comes up to the expectations of Dawn readers, who still have not forgotten icons like A.A.
· Khan: So another change at the daily Yawn. I thought Abbas Nasir would bring the newspaper up-to-date but he didn’t. As for the arrogance of the new editorial staff, I second Ayesha Siddiqa’s views. Let us hope Zaffar Abbas – a talented and experienced journalist – is finally allowed to make the necessary changes by the increasingly ‘sethia’-minded owners.
After reading the above article and the comments, you may have got a rough idea of the “news behind the headline.” Zaffar Abbas is the one who ended M. Ziadudin’s carrier at the Dawn Media Group in the most humiliating way. Here are some interesting points especially for the researchers of the future as currently, finding truth in the 'free' media has become impossible due to militarization of the outlets. Plus, search for the truth in Pakistan has become a big crime and very dangerous for journalists.
1- In his typical way, Zaffar Abbas, as a correspondent of the BBC Urdu, interviewed M. Ziauddin at his office, Dawn Islamabad, but didn't mention Mr. Zia as editor or even as a journalist, but as an economist (this is his typical tactic, but some professional economists say it's very funny to call a journalist, covering business affairs, an economist). And the next time Mr. Zia was out of the office and Zaffar had replaced him as Resident Editor. See video: BBC Urdu
2- After kicking his boss, Abbas Nasir, out from Dawn, Zaffar Abbas chopped out the hands of M. Ziauddin who was struggling hard to become Editor Dawn. An insider says: “Both are reporters and don’t know even the basics of editing—but are experts in shenanigans... so they're editors. Our current editors mostly belong to this breed of journalists.”
3- M. Ziauddin, after taking over as Executive Editor The Express Tribune, adopted a 'liberal' policy regarding Zaffar Abbas and his powerful brothers, especially Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas, chief spokesperson of the Pakistan Army. Critical comments regarding the Abbas Brothers were allowed in the pages but nothing was said about Dawn, the organization of Mr. Zia’s dreams.
4- Cafe Pyala was used against the newborn newspaper, The Express Tribune—“ they (Cafe Pyala) are a team of journalists led-by Omar R. Qureshi and patronized by Zaffar Abbas of ISI-fame..." said A Reluctant Mind."
5- A perturbed Zaffar Abbas decided to take revenge on M. Ziauddin in his hidden-hideous way! Thus he planted one of his “partners in crimes” – Farman Ali – as City Editor in The Express Tribune. And then started the blunders... and many more—Link-1, Link-2; then the representative blog of Zaffar Abbas said: “Express Tribune has a circulation of under 2500 nationwide Link-3”.
6- Insiders say that M. Ziauddin became ready to publish the above given story along with his own 'forced' comments about Zaffar Abbas for two reasons. 1) he got a call from someone more influential— 2) an ‘illiterate’ nephew of the editor of The Express Tribune, Munawar Azeem, is an employee of Dawn and a co-accused in Habib Sulemani's case.
7- Observe in this video M. Ziauddin’s response to a 'burning' question... note the body language of the 71-year-old gray-haired 'master chameleon'... his name tops the list of those journalists who have got residential plots in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
(To be continued)
NOTE: If anyone wants to clarify any point, we're ready to publish every point of view.—The Terrorland Team
1-Criminal inquiry sought
2-Alas! Mr. Jinnah's Dawn is dead, long live Pakistan
3-Pakistan escapes but Dawn succumbs to coup d'état
4-The paradigm shift — Dawn takes shelter under Islamic extremism
5-Mr Jinnah's Dawn in danger
6-Intellectual dishonesty 2010
7-All in the name of human rights
8-Human Rights Day: how helpless God is today!
9-Intellectual dishonesty 2010
10-Intellectual dishonesty 2010 (Part 2)
11-Intellectual dishonesty 2010 (Part 3)
12-Mr. Sulemani's phone, internet service cut off; life in danger
13-Pakistani government issues notice to The Terrorland
14-Five months of solitary confinement
15-Terror in the Pakistan blogosphere
16-Gilgit-Baltistan – The Orphaned Land of Pakistan
17-Tribalism — Aga Khan's pluralism under threat in Gilgit-Baltistan