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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

JB D'Souza - The Old Order Changeth!

JB D'Souza, former municipal commissioner, bureaucrat, champion of causes, and flawless writer is no more. He died on September 2, 2007 at the age of 87. I got this from Zigzackly who was informed by JB's (Bain's) son Dilip D'Souza.

Here's what JB wrote on what some greedy newspaper owners who consider newspaper publishing as a business like any other, i.e., the business of reaching news to the masses. It's for disseminating news that newspapers enjoy certain freedoms of expression, special privileges vis-a-vis the executive machinery, newsprint at subsidized rates, postage at subsidized rates, special train bookings privileges, invitation to government function, and the list goes on endlessly.

Well, hm, if it is just like any other business (e.g. "selling of pig iron" for instance) then let them eschew their special privileges mentioned above, and act like the kirana shops that print advertisements, which is what they have become of late. Some of the newspapers have become money making enterprises with a high margin of profit while delivering sub-standard news.

Here's what JB D'Souza has to say on the subject, and from how he said it, he didn't mince words (Journalism: Profit over People).

"It is, of course, possible for publishers to argue that theirs is a business like any other; they are in the business to maximise profit and that profits come not from news of events and analysis of them, not from readers’ satisfaction, but from advertisements, and advertisers have to be kept happy. The fact is that the press is not a business like any other; it is much more. Its prime responsibility is to its readers, a responsibility to inform. It is for this reason that it enjoys the freedom protected by the Constitution. The lust for money must not be allowed to obscure this advantage. “As editors collude ever more willingly”, writes Neil Hickey in the Columbia Journalism Review, “with marketers, promotion ‘experts’ and advertisers, thus ceding a portion of their sacred editorial trust; as editors shrink from tough coverage of major advertisers lest they jeopardise ad revenue; as news holes grow smaller in column inches to cosmeticise the bottom line; as news executives cut muscle and sinew from budgets to satisfy their corporate overseers’ demands for higher profit margins each year...then the broadly felt consequence of those factors and many others, collectively, is a diminished and deracinated journalism... which, if it persists, will be a fatal erosion of the bond between journalists and the public."

UPDATE: Wonder why JB D'Souza's death didn't appear in the papers, and I read three of them and watch several news channels and I found nothing. It's galling to the think the press would ignore such an eminent man's death because of his views which, in my humble opinion, were frank and forthright. Case of the press gagging the public? I got the news from Zigzackly's blog and, he, it seems, was informed by Dilip, JB's son. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth though it proves that citizens' journalism (such as blogging) works in times when the mainstream media (MSM) fails.

UPDATE: Dilip D'Souza writes: Thank you John. Actually, TOI and HT both reported it on Monday morning; HT carried a profile on Tue, DNA carried a news item on Tue.

UPDATE: My Comment: I read TOI, Daily Mirror and DNA, but didn't notice. Maybe it was published without a picture in some corner. I feel JB deserves more.



J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Thank you for the post and the extract. Now I know where Dilip got his fire.


Unknown said...


Welcome. Dilip is a good blogger and now you know where he derives his strength from.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Thank you John. Actually, TOI and HT both reported it on Monday morning; HT carried a profile on Tue, DNA carried a news item on Tue.

Unknown said...

Hi Dilip,

I read TOI, Daily Mirror and DNA, wonder why I didn't notice. Maybe it was a small filler somewhere, but I guess JB deserves more.