Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Stet: The sound of ranks closing

It's been a few weeks since Aroon Purie's Rajinikanth plagiarism*. In that time, to my knowledge, no other mainstream media house - barring only Aditya Sinha in the New Indian Express - has touched the issue with a bargepole. Bloggers have, others have, but not another mainstream newspaper or news magazine, however principled and noise-making they claim to be.

Mitali Saran has been writing a column in the Business Standard called Stet for the last last several years. On 30 October, her column did not appear in the Business Standard, and no reason was given. Mitali put up the column on her blog and stated that she wasn't clear why the column was not carried (they printed an NYT article about wingtips instead).

In the last two days, the updates on her blog about why the column went missing, kept changing. Today, this is what it says:
Update November 2, 2010: Business Standard's view that the post below was too dated to run is utterly unpersuasive, and I'm afraid I don't believe it. They also say that since this post was put up on the blog, along with comments about BS, the question of carrying it in the paper does not arise. We shall have to agree to disagree on this whole thing, and I will write a post about that in a few days; but meanwhile, I have terminated my arrangement with them with immediate effect. As of this week, Stet will no longer appear in Business Standard.
This is immensely sad. Not just because Business Standard has demonstrated superior levels of short-sightedness, but also because their reasons for not printing the column in the coming week's paper is notable for its lack of imagination and brazenness.

Stet, I suspect, will be missed only in the Business Standard. I look forward to seeing it back in some other paper or magazine, or even just on Mitali's blog.


*Yes. Shorthand. Key words. I know Purie did not plagiarise Rajini (as if that would even be possible).


Rahul Siddharthan said...

Amazing. I (and you) know another columnist who blogged in strong terms on this case, but did not put it in the print-media column (in the same newspaper). The excuse was that the Mumbai University/Rohinton Mistry case was more important.

Good to see someone principled enough to give up their column in a mainstream newspaper on these grounds. And when I say good, I mean astonishingly good.

km said...

They also say that since this post was put up on the blog, along with comments about BS, the question of carrying it in the paper does not arise.

Isn't that a fairly standard practice among newspapers and magazines?

Binu Karunakaran said...

It seems that media barons had conspired not to publish anything on Purie or plagiarism.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

km - my reading of it is that she normally puts it on her blog after it appears in print (as many others do, including SB). This time it failed to appear on schedule, but she blogged it anyway. And that gave BS a convenient excuse in addition to the lame "dated" one.

The question is what consequences will Purie or BS suffer? None. A commenter on Mitali Saran's blog links to a post on Purie's new editorial and cover story. That blogger talks about the hypocrisy of a Dilliwalla talking about crime in Goa, and the sexual repression in mainland India that causes them to splash such a cover photo, implying that an ordinary-looking beachgoer is a prostitute. But that's what sells.

Cheshire Cat said...

"I know Purie did not plagiarise Rajini"

How dare you even suggest that possibility. Only Rajini is worthy of plagiarising Rajini.

Space Bar said...

Rahul: Yes, too many people don't want to rock the boat. What amazes me is that so many years after other media have caught and kept their own readers, the gatekeepers of MSM still think that people won't hear about this or have strong opinions (that they express) on the matter.

km: What Rahul said, with one addition - to give no explanation to the columnist is very high-handed. If you look at the column previous to the one we're talking about on Mitali's blog, you'll see that BS did some rather ham-handed censoring without Mitali's consent. Mitali's putting up the column on her blog was a very convenient excuse to not publish it in a subsequent edition, without having to state openly that they were too chicken to call India Today on it's plagiarism.

Binu: It certainly appears so.

Cat: :D There's a Rajini joke there, if you'd like to polish it into existence.