Tales of “our soldiers” and “their dictators”

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Meet P. Sainath!

If I were ever given a chance to become somebody else, I would surely want to become this outstanding 53-year old South Asian journalist. Having clinched over 35 national and global awards, Sainath, the author of Everybody loves a Good Drought, spends an average 300 days a year in rural India to cover farmers’ suicides. He has unearthed hundreds of suicides by starving Indian farmers.

Watch this video to get introduced (please do!!!)


I thought of P. Sainath, whose lectures I had attended at the Asian College of Journalism, India, as I listen to Aaron Brown today at the First Amendment Forum.

Both Aaron and Sainath have one message for the aspiring journalists: Be a story-teller not a stenographer.

I loved Aaron when he said this but his CNN video about the Smiths eventually turned me off . Was this not stenography again, Mr. Aaron! It was a painful art of storytelling without uttering a word about the 95,888- 104,595 Iraqi civilians killed in the war. When the story tells me about “successful elections’ in Iraq were engineered by an invading force, I am reminded of what  the Man Booker Prize winning novelist Arundhati Roy once wrote:

So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War is Peace.

Aaron’s report was full of ‘our men’, ‘our soldiers’, ‘our security’  versus ‘their elections’, ‘their dictator’, ‘their victory’ etc.

Aron’s art of storytelling fails to attract me because it does include ‘our men’ and excludes ‘their civilians’. I wish Mr. Brown narrated the stories in P. Sainth- style by giving voice to the voiceless. Otherwise, you are teaching these kids the art of stenographic storytelling.

About sahmed19

Malik Siraj Akbar is the editor of the Baloch Hal (www.thebalochhal.com), the first online English newspaper of Balochistan province in Pakistan. He also is the chief reporter for the Daily Balochistan Express and a former bureau chief of the Daily Times in Pakistan. His articles have been published on the op-ed pages of leading English-language Asian newspapers, such as the Times of India. Malik blogs on www.gmcmissing.wordpress.com

View all posts by sahmed19 →

4 Comments on “Tales of “our soldiers” and “their dictators””

  1. Malik,
    Wonderful! I salute your courage to speak the truth. Something in my mind I cant speak about for fear of expressions. I concur your statement that when you share some story as a reporter you should speak the positive and negative side of the story. You should speak the truth being neutral. I am trying to find out one answer that being a human being is it posible to be ethically neutral? Aron Brown again prove that it is not possible.

  2. Thank you so much Alauddin for passing by and sharing your views. I think one of the easiest things to say and hardest thing to do is ‘impartial journalism’. We all advocate it but end up doing the very partial type of journalism to please our targeted audience.
    You need to know your audience.
    If you are doing the report for CNN International, perhaps not many people abroad would be interested in the Smiths. Likewise, if the CNN local version does something about the Mohammads, Ahmeds and Abdullahs, no one in the US would be interested to watch them.

  3. Good, beautiful and thoughful words. I wish Arron Could see our blog and leave his comment. But maybe that why he is so popular to Americans.

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