Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dear Readers' Editor

Dear Readers’ Editor,
Maybe you do not have jurisdiction over material published in Frontline magazine. And if nobody before me has made this point to you, let me be the first: your columns as Readers’ Editor in The Hindu are seriously off-key.
We expect a serious effort to address matters that the readership brings before you, but you seem intent on lecturing them on what is right and what is not.
However, that is a different matter and I will not detain you on that issue here.
My really serious difficulty with your editorial policy relates to the magazine Frontline, which is unique among Indian periodicals in having significant space devoted to international affairs. This is an important gesture of commitment, but I wish you would use some qualitative measures and some consistent political standards in allowing material through in this section.
International affairs should not be about equal opportunity junkets. Such as: I find in the most recent issue of Frontline that you have an article on the situation within Syria, which is very committed and serious. Even when it is defending a dynastic regime that represents nobody but itself and has been responsible for crushing the secular Palestinian movement for liberation in 1976, there is a certain seriousness there.
Unfortunately, it does not take great intelligence to find out that this article is written by somebody who is either totally foolish or completely paid off. If the author of that article had real conviction in writing what he did, he should have written equally critically about the next government that gave him an all-expenses paid junket.
I find though, that he is generous in his praise for the Emirs of Oil in the United Arab Emirates. Far be it from me to attribute motives, but for any informed reader, this rather bizarre conjunction of opinionated articles would be rather difficult to digest. And you should really not blame the reader for concluding that this is just about who pays the bills.
In other words, this is another variant of “paid news”.
Surely, we expect better from your esteemed publication.
With best regards,