Saturday, October 10, 2009

Editorial Makeovers in the Offing?

There are some very interesting things happening in the media sector, our moles are telling us... It would seem that some major upheavals are about to take place in the English language print media. Yes, there is a (rather large) world beyond what's happening at The Nation and the upcoming International Herald Tribune (Pakistan franchise) being put together by Sultan Lakhani.

First, that rather redundant paper known as the Daily Times, whose only utility as a second or third paper seems to be to let the world at large know about what the Taseers an their friends are up to.
It turns out that the ENTIRE SENIOR EDITORIAL STAFF has submitted their resignations, including founding editor Najam Sethi, Aaj Kal's (the Urdu version of the aforesaid Daily Times) editor Khalid Ahmed and News Editor Ejaz Haider. The apparent reason? Non-payment of salaries and running costs for over two months. It seems Governor Taseer has decided to stop throwing good money after bad investments. Even if they did provide his daughters free publicity for their jewellery and artistic ventures. On the other hand, perhaps daddy held back his money because he felt there wasn't enough coverage of his family in Sunday.

So where will the editorial staff go? Well, they always have The Friday Times
to fall back on, don't they. And at least Sethi and Haider (whose email chat status recently has been "Goodbye Daily Times") have built up a nice sideline with their television programmes on Dunya TV and DawnNews. We'll have to wait and see what happens to Daily Times though.

The other big shocker concerns that bastion of tradition and staid-ness, Dawn. Rumours are rife within the establishment that editor Abbas Nasir - who had come in as editor only just over three years ago after previous editor Saleem Asmi was laterally shifted - is getting ready to call it a day and go back to London with his family. You may recall that he was the South Asia head at the BBC in London before he shifted to Karachi for the Dawn assignment. This shift may happen as early as the end of the year or by the middle of next year and is apparently motivated purely by personal reasons, or so they say. Such a move would obviously mean that a search would begin once again - if it has not already - for a worthy successor for the most powerful job in English journalism in Pakistan. My money rides on Zaffar Abbas, currently Dawn's Resident Editor in Islamabad, moving into the position.

In any case, remember, you heard it here first.


Anonymous said...

Very informative first hand "news". I doubt that the upcoming International Herald Tribune (Pakistan franchise) being put together by Sultan Lakhani will be successful in Pakistam. IHT is a very serious paper and how many readers we have for such newspapers in Pakistan.

Anonymous said...

The Dawn staff has been hearing of Abbas Nasir's impending departure for more than a year now, not least from the man himself. But not many are convinced it is about to happen.
Things have been further complicated by the departure of Dawn veteran M. Ziauddin for the new Lakhani venture, which means that Zaffar Abass's trouble-free move to Karachi might be in jeopardy. If ZA goes, who will hold the fort at the crucial Islamabad station now that MZ has flown the nest?
The smart money in Dawn is now on Abbas Nasir staying for another year. Zaffar Abbas is clearly the favourite heir apparent but there are murmurs that Magazines Editor Murtaza Razvi could find himself in the coveted post and that even City Editor Behzad Alam is a candidate. Among outsiders, the only potential candidate is current Editor of The News Talat Aslam.
If only the venerable Khan sahib were alive, they could have wheeled him out to fill the void like they did after Asmi's sudden departure!

Anonymous said...

There are factual errors with your story as usual. Abbas Nasir did not take over from Saleem Asmi. He took over from Tahir Mirza, who wanted to leave the position after he was diagnosed with cancer. You fail to mention that Abbas Nasir's stewardship has been disastrous - Dawn has been losing its readership and the its editorial policy has suffered from the poor editorial judgment of Abbas Nasir. Zafar Abbas may be a good reporter but his ability to be an editor - his English language and analytical skills are both very poor, would only add to Dawn's slide. But Cafe Pyala won't say that because they are both friends.....

Anonymous said...

Abbas Nasir was the head of the Asia Pacific region at the BBC World Service when he resigned in 2006 and moved to Karachi. Facts are important in journalism, I have heard.