April 16, 2011

Dawn's yellow blood transfuses to The Express Tribune (2)

Special Report

OCTOBER 4, 2010 was marked as a black day for journalism in Pakistan when Zaffar Abbas – reportedly involved in a mass murder plot and attacks on journalist Habib R. Sulemani – took over as Editor of the daily Dawn. This is for the first time in the journalistic history of the country that a man accused of criminal charges has taken over as the Editor of the prestigious newspaper founded by Mr. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Professional ethics are dead in the country, and intellectual dishonesty has crossed limits and has reached the stage of intellectual terrorism in the terror-hit country.”

This is what The Terrorland group blogs had written last year. And now, besides working journalists, different media outlets and cyber-citizens are also validating this point as a universal truth—some directly others indirectly. Let’s read this article published in The Express Tribune and then try to analyze it.

Misreporting by daily Dawn: Allegations against McDonald’s refuted

The Express Media Group has strongly refuted a media campaign being run by daily Dawn in its pages over the past year. A statement by the Group issued on Thursday stated that daily Dawn has been running biased and misleading stories about the affairs of the McDonald’s chain in Pakistan for the past year in the guise of “public interest journalism.” Express Group and McDonald’s are sister companies. “25 articles have appeared in a space of one year. Each story is riddled with gross inaccuracies, fabricated information, twisted facts and original fiction. This ‘reporting’ can only be described as malicious and malafide,” said the statement by the Express Media Group, of which The Express Tribune is a part.

Hence, it is now incumbent upon the Express Group to speak out against what can only be described as a witch-hunt. “It is unclear what interest such malicious stories serve Dawn group – but it is of particular interest that the disinformation is being spread deliberately while the matter is before the honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan. Despite McDonald’s having followed every instruction of the Court in letter and spirit, Dawn has continued to claim to the contrary,” adds the statement.

The misreporting against McDonald’s began with an article published on January 3, 2010 under the heading “50 years of Islamabad: failures over shadow achievements.” The article states that the “Establishment of Jinnah Convention Centre and McDonald’s in F9 Park were some of the violations of the master plan”. No violation had occurred, but Dawn passed its judgment.

More baseless allegations followed. The title of the article (in italics), date of publication, allegation levelled (in italics) and the on-ground facts are summarised as follows:

1. “City bosses scramble after SC hard talk”, dated May 14, 2010, “The meeting also took notice of the disappearance of record regarding approval of establishment of the McDonald’s outlet in the Fatima Jinnah Park” – No files / documents regarding the approvals of the project were missing. This false story was planted to create doubts regarding the transparency of approvals.

2. “McDonalds told to fold up”, dated June 9, 2010, “The CDA has leased 6,000 square yards of the park land to Messrs SIZA Food, a franchise of the McDonald’s for 20 years at the rate of Rs317,000 per month.” The article fails to mention that the rent approved was Rs317,250 or five percent, which ever was higher. CDA till the closure of the restaurant was getting approximately Rs900,000 per month (280% higher than the amount
mentioned in the article.)

3. “McDonald’s is outside park, say CDA bosses”, dated June 15, 2010. “According to a senior official of CDA, SIZA Foods has been paying to the authority Rs0.8 million per month under the lease agreement and has so far earned over Rs570 million since 2006” – daily Dawn crossed all limits of misreporting in its attempt to discredit McDonald’s. – The amount of Rs570 million is sales revenue. This amount is from the sales of burgers, french fries, cokes, ice cream, etc – this is not the income made by McDonalds as reported. Dawn was juggling the numbers to portray that McDonald’s was raking it in while paying CDA only Rs800,000 per month.

4. “CDA to lease McDonalds land again” dated August 28, 2010, “The area under the use of McDonald’s is 6,000 square yards – 1.2 acres covered area and 5.62 acres open space.” The fact is that McDonald’s has covered only 8,800 square feet (980 square yards) out of the leased land area of 6,000 square yards (1.2 acres). This is only 16.33 % of the leased land. The remaining area of 5.26 acres of land was developed by McDonald’s (as part of the lease agreement) as a park for the general use of the citizens of Islamabad at a cost of Rs13,976,315. There is no levy of any fees, and the park is maintained by McDonald’s and not an inch of this area is in the use of McDonald’s. The annual cost of such maintenance is Rs1,020,000.

5. “McDonald’s to make a comeback” dated 29 December 2010. “The city managers on Tuesday paved the way for McDonald’s management to make a comeback in Fatima Jinnah Park by disqualifying two main contestants from the bidding held to again lease out land of the closed fast food chain, sources told Dawn.”  Dawn now takes a shot at the reputation of the city managers, insinuating that they are working with McDonald’s to disqualify other main contestants. The fact is that CDA invited Request for Qualification from National and International fast food outlets on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 with the deadline of submission of application as September 15, 2010. This was extended till September 30, 2010. Only three bidders responded, all international food franchises. To encourage more contestants, another Expression of Interest for pre-qualification of local and international food chains was published on Friday, October 29, 2010 with the deadline for receipt of applications as November 23, 2010. The same three and two more applied. These additional two were local companies. Three were qualified – McDonald’s, Dominos and Hanif Rajput. As per rules of prequalification, Rahat Bakery did not qualify as it is only a bakery and Hardees did not qualify as they had less then three years of experience. No rule of prequalification was changed or altered an any manner to disqualify. A totally open and transparent bidding process was followed and after a tough contest of bids, McDonald’s came out as the highest bidder. Daily Dawn is now making its last ditch effort to derail the entire process of transparent bidding.

In the same article it is stated that “Experts say if compared with the price paid by builders of Centaurus, the land of McDonald’s should have been auctioned for over Rs1 Billion.” The fact is that daily Dawn in its articles has continuously written about the Centaurus project of Islamabad and keeps comparing it with the McDonald’s restaurant in F9 Park. In at least foure different articles they have continued to make convoluted comparisons between the value of the space McDonald’s has and the value of the space Centaurus has. To set the record straight, it is important to let everyone know the true figures.

Centaurus is an approximately two million square feet project, consisting of two residential towers of 22 stories each, one office tower of 22 stories, one seven star hotel of 30 stories and a five storey, 550,000 square feet mall. They own the land which is approximately 6.59 acres. Compared to this McDonald’s covered area of the restaurant is approximately 8,800 square feet and all of it on the ground floor and while Centaurus holds the land in perpetuity, McDonald’s is a tenant.

No other newspaper has covered this issue in the libelous and slanderous manner that daily Dawn has and that is of great concern, the statement adds. These malicious reports have been continuously ignored by the management of McDonald’s – giving daily Dawn the benefit of doubt – but it is now seems this gratuitous campaign, which goes against all tenets of journalism, has no end in sight.

Some comments

Usman Ahmad: Here we go! Cheap mud-slinging…Express isn’t an ‘angel’ media group either!…but I honestly I wasn’t expecting this type of journalismm from DAWN.

Arachnid: Fight! Fight!

Shez: Using your newspapers for launching personal/business campaigns is nothing new in Pakistan. It looks like McDonalds Pakistan is not giving the Dawn its fair share of ad revenue. I guess their guns will be silenced then.

Talha: I support the Tribune, Dawn never publishes my comments. I blame prejudice.

Azfar Naik: What I want to know is, why hasnt anyone contradicted DAWN before this? true the media has freedom but to use its powers to misreport and bad mouth a company that is so well known is disgusting I must say. People across the nation read and believe what is potrayed in DAWN and if this is how they play with their power, then who do we trust?

Fahd Abbasy: Hey how come there were no comments when Dawn was attacking McDonalds and printing all those news items … read them personally. What if a company without any media on its back was in this position. Then no one would hear their version of the story, they would have been out of business, hundreds of jobs lost, so many families affected. This is such irresponsible journalism.

Zubair Zafar: This is unacceptable. Dawn should be penalized for such yellow journalism. I am an avid reader of Dawn since last 15 years and i sometimes feel there is alot of propaganda involved in its reporting.

Fayaz Ahmed: Should the park be there or not the court will decide that, but how Dawn has been reporting the issue is really shameful, this is the level of journalism in this country? That too by a news paper started by Qauid-e-Azam himself. They should have reported the facts and let the people build their opinion rather than leading them to their own agenda.

Sadaf: How was this article allowed to be published??!!


Analysis

From the above article, one thing is clear that the editorial policy of The Express Tribune is now against the Dawn—the organization, not the powerful Editor appointed by Dawn Media Group's powerful CEO Hameed Haroon, whose brother represents Pakistan in the United Nations.

Also, The Express Media Group has realized that the Editor of daily Dawn runs media campaigns against different political and business groups in the typical way—yes Dawn runs biased and misleading stories about those who want a globalized world as it has been a den of the opportunist Leftists and so-called communists since the very beginning. The autonomous editorial management of Dawn can destroy anyone’s career or life in the guise of “public interest journalism” but no one can dare to do anything in this regard. 

The LUBP had said in a post: “The irony of highlighting Jinnah, the Shia founder of Pakistan, as the founder of Dawn escapes its ownership who themselves are allegedly Shia. Ingratiating themselves with the establishment is probably more lucrative for Dawn than honest journalism and caring for the plight of minorities. Carry on Dawn, no one can do euphemisms better than you.  In doing so, you churn out the best de-contextualized reports that ensure that the establishment and its Islamofascist proxies will never be held to account for the crimes against the Pakistani people!”
 
Every day there are planted stories in Dawn! If you carefully observe and keep a record, you’ll find the stories “riddled with gross inaccuracies, fabricated information, twisted facts and original fiction.” The reporting at Dawn has been "malicious and malafide" but everyone can't talk on this taboo subject! This is a good thing that The Express Media Group has finally taken the courage but why The Express Tribune has not realized it? Are the two going on different tracks?? The answer of this question you may’ve found in the first part of this post. Also see the related posts there.
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(To be continued)

NOTE: If anyone wants to clarify any point, we're ready to publish every point of view.—The Terrorland Team

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