Monday, January 25, 2010

Dawn(Sizing)News

Consider this merely a heads up. From what we are hearing, DawnNews is in the process of massive retrenchments. A number of production staff, including senior producers, have been asked to take substantial pay-cuts, which is just a milder way of saying 'sorry, mate, we don't need you any more.' The most high-profile of this shedding is apparently Wajahat S. Khan, the host of DawnNews' HardTalk-wannabe show TalkBack. The show had only just resumed for its second season. Khan, however, has been saying he has resigned over 'differences' with the channel.



It may be mentioned that Wajahat S. Khan was also the host of the ill-fated and slick-looking series We Are Soldiers, which was produced under the direct supervision of the military's Inter-Services Public Relations department. That promotional programme was suddenly taken off the air in the middle of its run last year after a never-discussed dispute with the show's 'real producers'. Among the rumours over exactly why the programme was taken off the air were alleged navy-army tension over a programme on the Marines and, more credibly, that a part of one programme had allegedly resulted in the cancellation of an arms sale to the Sri Lankan military. Apparently, that editorial compromise and the programme's abrupt, never-explained, end was not, however, enough to warrant resignations.

Whatever the case may be, the current bout of downsizing has also been accompanied by unconfirmed rumours of DawnNews shifting its head office to Islamabad and preparations for launching an Urdu channel (or bulletins) - the latter of which has been in the works for some time. Many at the channel are speaking in terms of it being 'gradually wound down', which I find hard to believe and which may simply be motivated by their own downsizing. I think these retrenchments have more to do with the economic pressures on the Dawn Media Group as a whole and, perhaps, a shift of focus.

If anyone has more (credible) information and details, do let us know and we will update the post.

34 comments:

temporal said...

explain the dichotomy

if they are hurting and downsizing how come they are opening an urdu channel?

khabardrama said...

Oh no! Dawn News closing down? And I haven't even learnt how to make that lamb, peach and artichoke tagine or to master the art of creating a pomegranate and caramelised garlic dip! This is surely the worst news I have heard since Agha's burnt down all those years ago

Maryam said...

What I want to know is when they will close the damn, piece-of-shit paper down?

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, this Wajahat guy should've been fired even if the channel was doing as well, financially, as Fox.

The guy just has a voice but in other cases, if you watch his interviews, is a clear case of Did Not Do The Research.

Anonymous said...

Dawnsizing ;) sad but in a nice kind of way - some people need to have their ego's downsized and im so glad it started off with the biggest ego-istic host ... whose next - Naveen naqvi - also dawnsized

Cafe Pyala no comment on Saima Mohsin's rendezvous with the arikan stars?

http://pakalert.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/in-pictures-us-embassy-hosts-drink-and-dance-party-for-pakistani-journalists/

Wajahat said...

Smart work, Pyala. Most of what you have is solid stuff. But not all of it. Hear it from the primary source.

I resigned from Dawn News three weeks ago (over the future of TalkBack). I informed the TB fan community (www.facebook.com/talkbackdawn) about my decision early last week (the delay due to my resignation being accepted by the CEO coupled with my considering and rejecting other options at DNTV - hint: it was a question of using another language). The news of down-sizing and pay-cuts developed after that (you guys got it 16 hours ago, but it started late last week).

These are facts. And they are evidenced enough to be irrefutable.

As for We Are Soldiers, yes, slick and ill-fated it was. But there was no tension between the Army and the Navy over anything. The show was pulled when Dawn refused to compromise on its editorial stance (DNTV had been receiving notifications throughout the airing of the series). In the end, it boiled down to ethics, and Dawn stood by its position.

As for the 'real' producers of We Are Soldiers, well, I can guarantee that no general, colonel, major or NCO accompanied my team and me for over a year, embedded themselves with all branches of the military, recorded over 6000 minutes of footage and interviewed over 200 serving personnel from the front-lines of this country's inter-connected conflicts. No one. Except our cameras and equipment. Yes, the ISPR played a pivotal role, logistically, for the documentary, but the country's biggest doc project was conceived and executed by my team.

As for comparing TalkBack to HardTalk, I will take that as a compliment (though it probably was not meant as one). Inspired by its British-version, TalkBack was, and remains, the only show to air an entire season of programming from India. We recorded 14 episodes in 30 days. Beat that and then use the term wannabe, if you please.

Last word on Soldiers: 'Promotional' is not exactly the right choice of vocab for describing the show. Just check out EP 1 (www.youtube.com/wasdawn, where the show lives - at least the episodes that made it on the air): We located and interviewed a Kargil veteran who didn't have a lot to say about the performance of the Army's regular issued G-3 assault rifle. In fact, it was that critical interview which kicked off rumors of a weapons deal with the Sri Lankan government being cancelled. But, for the record, the SL govt also cancelled a bunch of other military deals last year, the most notable one with China, probably due to its diminished need for weaponry in the wake of the success against the LTTE. Officially, there is no word about this weapons deal going south.

So there you have it. I resigned. TalkBack and WAS live on as stellar productions. But I cannot comment on Dawn's fate, but can only say that they have been exceptionally kind to me for the last three and half years.

WHS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WHS said...

what about the fact that Dawn already has 2 separate tv licences issued by PEMRA by the name of Herald News & Herald Entertainment. ?????

CPM said...

@temporal: You're absolutely right in pointing that out. I'm also trying to figure it out...unless they think mass appeal Urdu will alleviate some of the losses the limited-viewership English channel has suffered. Of course the big question would be: can Dawn actually run an Urdu language channel? Remember they never could manage Hurriyet when it belonged to them in the 1970s (despite the fact that it gave Jang stiff competition) and their plans for an Urdu version of the Herald never materialized.

@khabardrama: Haha...has anyone else noticed that DawnNews is obsessed with food?

@Maryam: That would be the day after Pakistan implodes. For all its faults, it is still the leading English newspaper in Pakistan.

@Wajahat: Many thanks for putting your point of view across in a straightforward and mature manner. Really. I have no reason to doubt your facts and stand corrected, though people may still have opinions about the quality of some of the interviews on TalkBack.

As for We Are Soldiers, you may well be right about the cancellation of the arms deal (which is why we tagged it as a rumour) but it may make it clearer if you could actually identify the nature of the "editorial compromise" expected of Dawn, which it allegedly refused.

But thanks once again for taking the time to respond.

@WHS: Most licensees of PEMRA have multiple licenses, in anticipation of future expansion. Personally I don't see Dawn venturing into entertainment immediately.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wajahat, please do us all a favor and never come back on air. Hardly anyone watched ur stupid wannabe show TalkBack anyways. Every time you're pretentious and idiotic skewed eyes face would appear, I would either flick the channel immediately or burst out laughing. I think DawnNews will finally survive and not get burdened by the insane amounts it paid to pamper you. It's a miracle really that you survived so long there-they should have fired u a long time back!

Wajahat said...

@ CPM: Cheers mate. While I appreciate your appraisal and encouragement to comment, I really can't expand on the rift with the military. That's the kind exposure that could get us all into trouble. We're all destined for better endings, so why settle for a self-inflicted one.

I'm glad I discovered your work. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I think Wajahat will be remembered as the most self obsessed jerk to have ever happened on our recent TV history. I mean just look at his comment here-so much pomp and attitude for a show, TalkBalk, which had one of the lowest ratings ever. As for We Are Soldiers, thank you CafePyala for rightly pointing it out that it was a 'promotional' ISPR-backed series where our wannabe friend here tried his level best to prove to the Pakistan Army that he himself was in fact the best soldier in the country and not our brave jawans. Also, I think it's a bluff that he's trying to pull off here by saying that he resigned-I'm sure he must have kicked out. Thank you DawnNews-send more such idiots out please!

Anonymous said...

But why are they planning to dawnsize their web site?

wYSeguy said...

Yo Maryam, what's wrong with Dawn?

How the heck does it rank up in a market where the competition is give-AQ-Khan-a-column-The-News, and PPP Mouthpiece Daily Times?

And anon@3:21, at least Wajahat Khan has the decency to make a statement with his own name and keep it mature. Plus who gives a damn what this moron military that's created more problems than solved thinks. I care more what the average citizen thinks.

Just the first 6 minutes of We Are Soldiers is worth it in laying out where and how the entire 600,000 man military we've been paying for is laid out, and by that stretch who should be close by in an "Aid to Civil Forces Situation".

Good job Mr Wajahat. And your Team as well.

wYSeguy said...

Why the hysteria on this blog every time an English newspaper gets discussed?

And more importantly, how do the writers on this blog keep their sanity when the comments start spewing on the English press?

WHS said...

- صبح خبریں

سمجھ فرق

:P

Is this the future of Dawn News? :(

Wajahat said...

@ wYSeguy: Thanks mate. I'm really glad that you appreciated the informative (and not just the action packed) nature of WAS. Those first 6 minutes, when we laid out the structure and architecture of the Army's Corps and Divisional formations took some serious research, both on the field and off it, and then our Creative team really helped out with the Graphics too, but I'm glad that you liked the end result.

Just so you know, I'm working on a book regarding a similar, systemic and structural examination of the Armed Forces. Stay tuned for that one. But it might take a while.

@ WHS: Nice work. Satire is always a healthy mode of carrying on the debate.

Maryam said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Wajahat writing a book. This is rich!

Saima said...

Maryam,


Not only is he writing a book, he is expecting us to stay tuned .... who does he think he is .. OPRAH FUCKING WINFREY?

wYSeGuy said...

CPM, could you please explain what's up with the bruised ego's that go on a parade every time you write about Dawn? And maybe have a policy that if somebody personally knows (and apparently hates) somebody else to keep "that" aspect of their personal lives out of it.

Maryam, you know Wajahat Khan on a personal level?

That would explain the apparent bitchyness of your tone. But for us civilians here mebbe you could tone it the fuck down a bit, eh? Some of us are here trying to get info.

With the Deepest Contempt for All Your Bruised Egos

wYSeGuy

Anonymous said...

Hi guys. Since everyone here is trying to set the record straight, I thought I too should make an entry. I'm the dude who worked behind the scenes for Wajahat's shows. While it's a fact that a lot of hard work went into the productions, WAS and TalkBalk, the truth is Wajahat's contribution to the research and content remained dismally low, almost to the point of not being there at all at times. We literally had to feed him the words to say on screen. Hell, the height of his (un)professionalism was exposed the day he started messing around with young girls at work. Everyone in the industry knows about his car parking-lot incident, which I assure you, was only the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, a lot of shit happened at DawnNews and the worst part is that a lot of it went deliberately unnoticed because of Wajahat's connections with the top management, who I may add, preferred to roll their eyes rather than to take him to task. Finally, I want to confirm the fact that the Soldier of the Year, Wajahat S. Khan, was fired-his saying that he resigned is a load of bull.

Anonymous said...

Thank you anon@ 2:01AM

So who all among the anchors get their work done by their teams and then take credit for it all?

samishah said...

Wouldn't your comments have more merit if they weren't made from behind a cloak of anonimity?

Wajahat didn't hide his name while providing his side of the story. If you have another side then please use your name. Or be relegated to the same league of internet commentators who log onto youtube and leave anon comments like "faggot" and "you suck."

Oh and by the way...you suck.

saad said...

oh did you also get fired Sami?

DawnkaDon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
XYZ said...

@DawnkaDon:

I had warned all of you. All such simply abusive posts will be removed. Don't embarrass yourself.

DawnkaDon said...

@ XYZ:
I completely understand and apologize. But while you're removing inappropriate posts, there's a couple more up here which you should consider deleting. Enough of the blame game. Put an end to this or this will go on.

Sam said...

I haven't caught anything of Wajahat's show except while channel-hopping. I understand a lot of people aren't fans but com'on, at least have the guts to put your name with your Wajahat-bashing comments or any comments for that matter.
I agree with the PEMRA license comment (don't have the energy to scroll up and see who posted it) that having a license does not necessarily mean the channels will launch.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out though. The "We Are Soliders" promo link posted by Wajahat looks very choreographed and over-rehearsed. For the record, am an army brat.

WHS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WHS said...

@SAM

You are right about the PEMRA licence thingy, we all know what happened with GEO ENGLISH...but converting Dawn News into Urdu, that would be real sad :(


I had just started understanding the difference 2 days back :P

Sami said...

@saad No I didn't get fired. Actually resigned of my own free with no other reason to do so than I had a good job offer. Hope that doesn't disqualify me from having an opinion on all this.

I miss Dawn News though. Not the channel it is now, that is a ramshackle debacle. It's become a slow motion train wreck that I can't stop watching just to see who manages to jump out the window before the train hits the same brick wall alot of us have been saying was at the end of the tracks.

I miss Dawn News the channel I had worked towards launching back when it was just 6 of us with our own laptops learning how to start a tv channel. There were hopes and plans and ideas then. Now it's just a string of lost opportunities and wasted potential. And this new Urdu direction is a ridiculous last ditch attempt. Shame.

saad said...

It's very sad what is happening now. I wonder how demoralized the current DawnNews employees must be. Could all this not have been avoided to begin with? Why are they where they now are.

Omar R Quraishi said...

well said sami -- your comment about anonymous postings

Mehr A. Khan said...

@WHS: Yes, DAWN is planning to venture into entertainment market within next 6 months. This is not the first time DAWN is admitting into Urdu medium.......long ago they had a urdu newspaper too called "Zulfiqar".........which failed miserably.