Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Cyber Newspapers: An Emerging Culture

by Mohamed Azim

I have been following the internet newspapers for a long time. First it was only the DO which I must agree started off pretty well perhaps because it was the only paper at that time. Recently I have come across this other paper called Maldivian too which has been gaining popularity very rapidly.

As I said DO started off pretty well but at present I think it is a vivid example of blatant abuse of the freedom of expression. For them the old adage “my freedom ends where yours start” holds true. Apart from the very outrageous lies they publish without any verification of fact whatsoever it is also filled with filth which you would not like to hear in any household with family values. It goes to the extreme of defamation.

DO also seem to be a newspaper centered with just one objective in mind. The over throw of the present Government. It does not seem to have a diverse view of opinions as any decent news paper should have. Every reporter worth his soul knows that a good story is like a hand, that it has two sides. It is this single minded obsession of the DO editors which has caused much discontent among its readers. With a dwindling readership DO editors have been forced to hunt through other newspapers and print what they feel is even remotely connected without any though to copy right laws. Perhaps it also comes under DO’s version of freedom.

Like DO I must say I read The Maldivian too with a lot of weariness. I was told that the The Maldivian is a pro government newspaper brought out by people close to the president, infact some have suggested, the son of the president.

What struck me most was the diverse view of opinions in the Maldivian. It provided a good balance to the DO’s lies by counter articles with solid facts. Plus it also has its own articles in support of the Government. More important it also has articles criticizing the government for its inaction as well as its actions.

Maldivian also had become a forum where by people can bring their grieves to open discussion. Instead of having a tunnel vision Maldivian, by focusing on a lot of issues is able to help a lot of people in expressing their discontent. The recent discussion on health issues is a vivid example of this.

There is a great difference between the criticism we find in DO and The Maldivian. The criticism in DO is very destructive and inflammatory and brinks on defamatory remarks and always end with a call for the President to resign, what ever the problem might be. While as most of the criticisms in The Maldivian are constructive and always give the writers view point of how it should be. Now you must be all wondering what I am trying to say. Where is this article leading? I was content with just reading the articles in these newspapers when one of the banner headlines in DO suddenly struck me. It was a quote by Edmund Burke which read as “The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. This was when I decided to follow the advice given in DO and decided to write and thank the editors of The Maldivian for bringing some sanity in to this whole process.

It is time that we Maldivians stop to be just readers and started expressing out opinions. We should stop treating these newspapers like DO for its entertainment value in its lies and try to force the truth out. Its time we start writing our opinions so that the truth be known and the mandate of the people are expressed. Let the truth prevail.

Finally I call upon the concerned Government authorities to look through these internet articles and take on the constructive criticism expressed there in stride with a positive out look and to remember that we are all working for a common goal whether inside or outside the Government.

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