Friday, May 14, 2010

Searching For (Yet Another) New Dawn


Had the real-life DawnNews saga been a prime-time soap opera on that troubled channel, its ratings would at least have registered some mild signs of life instead of languishing well below the radar screen. Dozens of redundancies and a half-baked makeover later, the country’s first, and soon to be former, English language channel continues to search desperately for an identity and lurch from crisis to crisis in search of its true self. The latest twist in the tortuous tale: a complete break from of its ‘burger’ Angrezi past and a rediscovery of its native roots. So help us God.

After recently switching to Urdu at certain times during the day to attract some kind of stable viewership, DawnNews has now decided to stop being the confusing hybrid it is and go all the way. Sources say that from May 15 the channel will switch entirely to Urdu language broadcasts and step into the overcrowded lion’s den where Geo, Express News, Dunya, Samaa, ARY and Aaj and dozens of others lie hungrily in wait.

The most recent casualty of all the upheavals at the channel is former BBC hand and head of current affairs Mazhar Zaidi, who staff last saw at work on Friday. Insiders say that, fed up with the lack of direction, Zaidi walked out and resigned on Saturday and is now mulling over returning to the BBC.

Wusatullah Khan, another BBC luminary brought in to plug a gaping hole in the sinking vessel, has also rediscovered the charms of his former employer and plans to jump ship and return to the mother ship BBC. Clearly, his laid-back prime time Urdu programme 'Bolna Zaroori Hai' had failed to stem DawnNews’ ratings rot, with viewers deciding that dekhna zaroori nahin hai.








Meanwhile, the desperate attempts to break with its ABCD past and establish some kind of desi street cred produced what must be the most ill-judged concept in programming history: 'Chaudhry Ki Baithak.' If the idea was to force the teeming masses to get addicted to the programme, let’s just say they didn’t - and for a very good reason. Who among the great unwashed, let alone anyone else with half a brain, would ditch their Star Pluses and Geos to watch a Chaudhry Shujaat impersonating refugee from Geo’s 'Hum Sab Umeed Se Hain' interact night after night with a hapless guest and a man with a high-pitched voice and an exaggerated Pakhtun accent (a sure sign of a comic running out of ideas)? And this, by the way, was meant to be a serious programme. No wonder the Mazhar Zaidis and Wusatullahs fled, deciding their time was up!

PS: Meanwhile, the long quest for a new editor of the Dawn group’s Herald magazine is finally over, if rumours are to be believed. Lahore-based Badar Alam, formerly of Dawn’s Lahore bureau and The News on Sunday, is the man chosen for the hot seat following the departure of (former TNS editor) Arifa Noor, who is soon to be anointed Dawn’s resident editor in Islamabad.
So another Lahori gets the Herald crown, following Aamer Ahmed Khan and Ms Noor, making one wonder whether Dawn head honcho Amber Saigol can only feel secure if her key staffers at the prestigious magazine are brought in from the city she has adopted as her own after her marriage to a Saigol.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, muji's (Mazahar's nick)appointment in the first place was a risk which Abbas Nasir took owing to his unashmed "BBC wala" cronyism. He was bound to be a failure. With Abbas on exit path, so will be his bunch of cronies. The next will be Mussadiq Sanwal of dawn.com.

And for you information, Wusatullah Khan hadn't left BBC. Rather, he was on "attachment". Remours are that Dawn and BBC are negotiating to enter into partnership for an Urdu news channel.

Alpha Za said...

Interesting, Dawn is pretty much a mess. I tried watching it the other day and it was ridiculous. There is no unique selling point....what the hell?

Anonymous said...

Arifa Noor was never the editor of the news on Sunday...

Anonymous said...

Aww, I've always liked the idea of dawn as an english language news channel.And I love Ayesha Alam Khan's No Reservation :(

Ruby said...

Ayesha Alam can do No Reservation in Urdu after DAWN News switch to full Urdu channel. Dawn News Urdu news broadcasts are more credible and comprehensive. I hope people will switch from other existing Urdu Channels to DAWN URDU.

Raamis said...

Hmmm, looks like the BBCwalas can't quite get their act together... and leave so soon. Wonder why?

Anonymous said...

When Abbass became editor of Dawn - which btw is still going strong as Pakistan's largest english daily - he got on Musadiq (Editor, dawn.com), Mazhar Zaidi (Executive Producer DawnNews), Murtaza Rizvi (Magazines' Incharge, Dawn), and columnists like Nadeem Paracha and Aeysha Siddiqa.
If truth be told, each one of these guys have done a wonderful job.
Mazhar is leaving because he is right that Dawn's TV channel is the pits.
But rest assured all the others named here will continue to operate in Dawn even after Abbas's term ends this July.

Ayesha ironically stopped writing for Dawn due to 'personal problems.' :P

Anonymous said...

Oh yes images of sunday so much fun to read and dawn.com is lovely layout. i am read it every sunday morning to night. mr rizvi great editor

Omar R Quraishi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:04pm Obviously you are someone who has written this message from the awful grey corridors of Dawn Haroon House itself. I wouldn't be surprised if you're one of the same people mentioned in your own list of 'eminent' editors. However, I must warn you that your job is already at stake for spelling the name of the current Dawn editor as 'AbbASS' and not Abbas.

Now, let’s go for a reality check. All the people you mention are known for their outstanding incompetence within the Dawn group. We all know what a shit-fest the Dawn's Sunday magazine has become, courtesy Murtaza Rizvi. Epic tales of Rizvi’s inability are best heard from his own team members, especially Faisal Qureshi-the Images incharge, who don't miss a single opportunity to bitch their hearts out about their editors at one of the many free lunches they consume. Seriously, is there even one person in the country who even reads the Sunday mag now?

Another prime example of astounding incompetence is Musadiq, who insiders say was just a picture cropper at the BBC urdu site before he was given the lucrative post of editor dawn.com. His unprofessionalism is legendary which reached new heights when he faced a near revolt-like situation recently; more than half of his staffers have already left the dawn.com team out of sheer disgust of the man and mismanagement.

Also, it's true that Mazhar Zaidi was a failure at the channel. No one ever thought he was a man in control of things. Any youngster with the right connections with the management could supersede his directions. However, Zaidi was better than the people mentioned above with a decent track record at the BBC and should have done better.

Finally I want to comment on your ‘rest assured’ wishful thinking: I must say if things are to remain as they are in Dawn with the same miserable people in charge, the whole group will sink within no time. These people should resign on their own accord instead of being eventually eased out by the new incoming editor of Dawn.

Anonymous said...

The problem with DawnNews is that though the management named it after the paper, it has kept both the paper and the channel aloof from each other.

First of all, DawnNews is weak on the reporting front. The newspaper has sereral brilliant reporters but the channel won't use their services, which is strange as it would surely save the management some money on hiring gumshoe reporters who just don't know where to start.

Then it should refrain from being a copy cat. DawnNews lacks creativity, something which always sells. It should look for new creative ideas to get it the required viewership.

Ruby said...

DAWN and its Sunday Mag are still the best in country. Images on Sunday may not be like old days and more a potpourri now but without a doubt no other English paper could brought a better version. DAWN is an institution and will not fade out as wished or predicted by some.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@Anin 2010
And from what 'awful grey corridors' are you talking from?

Ruby said...

Chaudhry Ki Baithak is a copycat of Azeezi in HASB-E-Hal of Dunya TV. DAWN's attempt didn't succeed since the Original was far better. As Khabardrama suggested DAWN should come up with Original ideas.

Anonymous said...

This is getting confusing. DAWN is a newspaper - Pakistan's largest. And DAWNEWS is a TV channel - that is struggling.
Right?

Insider-outisder said...

I have had the plesaures of working with Ahmed Ali Khan, Saleem Asmi, Tahir Mirza and Abbas Nasir. Notwithstanding Abbas' BBC experience, he was not the stuff capable succeed his veteran predecessors. He even left BBC's wing under his stewardship in a mess marred with cronyism.

But, for BBC south asia was only one of its several sections which the beeb is running out of its colonial hangover under it world service. Incompetency and profesional tribalism led to closure of his position (British way of sacking someone senior)and Dawn has to bear the brunt, thanks to Saigol girls' elitism.

I dare to disagree with some of the commentators that daily Dawn is doing well. The only receipe for existence of print media in a 24/7 news mania is to do investigative reporting, objective comment pieces and excellent sidekicks like weekly magazines. Despite all its shortcomings, The News is still the paper people pick from newsstands to get informed.

With the exception of Khaleeq Kiani, there's no reporter of significant worth onboard the paper.

Dawn was bound to suffer after Khan saheb. Under Asmi saheb, Dawn though suffered vis-a-vis hardcore news contents but a number editions he introduced like gallery and books and authors, in my view, raised the paper's stature and broaden its readership.

Mirza Saheb's stint was marred with tranistion of Dawn's stewardship from Haroons to Saigols but he remained stuck to the basics and therefore the paper didn't suffer as much as it suffered under Abbas.

In a bid to form his team of loyalists, Abbas reshuffled Dawn editorial managers and also brought in some of his blue-eyed BBC boys. Interestingly, all of them proved a failure.

Sometimes I wonder can't he pluck someone with real talent and place them in the bouquet of his cronyism? Poor man.

Magnum said...

Sir jee, conparing Abbas with Khan Sahib is like conparing apples with oranges.

When Khan Sahib retired, Dawn's circulation had started to suffer. But it was under Abbas Dawn picked up again.

Like it or not, it remains to be the largest circulated English daily in the country.


Ano no, I do not work for Dawn, but have been a long time reader of it.

Maryam said...

Magnum: Err what have you been smoking? Khan sahib's era at Dawn is still remembered by many as perhaps one of the best that the paper has seen. To compare Abbas Nasir to Khan sahib is like saying that Zardari is the best thing that happened to Pakistan.

Kashif said...

Not more than half, all of dawn.com team left to join Tribune, the new headliner. As for musadiq, Mohammed Hanif brought him to BBC and then Abbas to Dawn. He must be heart broken looking for a new honcho.

Nana said...

What nonsense!
The dawn.com team well intact.
I know because I WORK there.

This is amazing. All these deluded folks with an axe to grind against Dawn gather here and talk utter nonsense.

Anonymous said...

indeed, a veritable axe-grinders convention :)

hyder.s said...

@Kashif: I don't know who you are. But you're quite the liar sort.

As for ET, it seems to only have gotten the types Dawn.com was hoping to get rid of (maybe two or three as opposed to the ENTIRE team as Kashif alleges).

But now, rumour has it that they are trying to get the useful ones too. ET is not likely to succeed though especially since everyone is sufficiently aware of the tribune's stellar performance.

Anonymous said...

Why Naveen Naqvi & Wajahat Khan left DAWN NEWS and joined ET? More lucrative offer? They were not actually writing for DAWN and I am sure not of being DAWN columnist standard.

Natasha said...

So dawn's all set to become 'just another' Pakistani channel. Don't like it.

azfar said...

naveed and wajahat were fired from Dawn. They didn't leave it. ET basically has Dawn's refuse, so there.

Anonymous said...

etribune on Twitter

(Web Update) You inform, we report! Share this msg - get in touch with us now http://tinyurl.com/35mgum6 #Pakistan #Citizenjournalism (Copying DAWN on Citizenjournalism idea)

Anonymous said...

Express copies everything DawnNews does and had been since its launch. They have the resources to copy, but not the brains to think. But then again, imitation is the best form of flattery.

Anonymous said...

I gathered from all those comments and blogs that the program of Wajahat ullah Wasti will be axed. i good news from a viewer's perspective. The guy is a confused journalist wandering between different corridors of mass communication. He was doing print media on radio (writing column) and was trying to do radio on tv. The problem is his his radio skills are not that great. A basic thing. you dont do "ji...theek...achha..ji..and so on" during interviews, its a bad radio and a bad tv and only amatures do it. It says a lot about his trainers at BBC. I enthusiastically watched his first program and then forced myself a couple of times but had to switch the channel after few minutes of viewing torture.
Aab, Abu dhabi

Anonymous said...

Sorry its Wusatullah and not wajahatullah...my apologies
Aab Abu Dhabi

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

Peeps, this is not a forum for venting your personal issues with random people who are not even mentioned in the post. Particularly if your opinion is simply abusive without any reasoning to back it up. All such comments will be deleted.

For all those criticising the Dawn web site, I'm sorry but it still is by far the best web presence of any Pakistani paper and your criticism sounds quite unfair. So whatever your personal gripes may be with the web team, I have to say there is little evidence of incompetence at least on the consumer end.

mahnat kar hasad na kar said...

Dawn under editor Abbas Nasir has blossomed. In order to criticise competence of Abbas, you need to have enough competence. Jealousy of those who see him seated at the head of the largest circulated and best newspaper is understandable and i sympathize with his detractors. But Abbas has earned goodwill and love of all of the Dawn editorial staff and management. He is surrounded by prayers and forever will be. So keep tight and..mahnat kar hasad na kar!

Anonymous said...

The prayers must be from the low lives who spend their time doing nothing - and the rest probably pray for his speedy departure

Anonymous said...

Anonymous1.22am ... particularly of the anonymous kind. Low lifes I mean.

Anonymous said...

Can't summon the courage to sign your comment?. You must be one of the Dawn's good-for-nothings, put by Abbas on the sideline..A less caring person would have kicked the ass. Prayers? why not. Let any journalist recall his pay before and after the arrival of Abbas on the scene. Paupers drawing less than a factory workers now stand among the respectable ranks in any industry. Salute to Abbas Nasir, the courageous editor who broke the wage-award web..

mahnat kar hasad na kar said...

Prayers are from those whose life he touched and made pauper journalists stand among high paid executives in other industries. Abbas broke the wage board web...the rest are good-for-nothing (i have a feeling the anonymous is one, who wouldnt summon courage to give his name)