The News…or The Opinions?

The News (Jang Group)Jang Group boldly declares it’s English newspaper as The News, but based on what is inside, should the newspaper more appropriately be named The Opinions? Yesterday we looked at how Jang Group uses so-called “experts” to inject opinions into what are supposed to be straightforward news reports. Today, though, we want to look at an increasing practice that is not so subtle – the replacing of objective news reporting with opinions.

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In Wednesday’s edition of The News, readers who turned to page 3 of the National News section found very little news reporting. Instead, the page was filled with opinion pieces. Ahmad Noorani continued his reporting from the Supreme Court with a piece terming Aitzaz Ahsan’s reply to the court as “contemptuous and extra-constitutional”, and alleging that the Prime Minister has “ridiculed, insulted and humiliated the apex court and its honourable judges publicly”, suggesting that “the prime minister has crossed all limits of decency, morality and civil behaviour” – all clearly indicating a strong opinion, not facts.

Next to Ahmad Noorani’s piece, readers found more strongly worded opinion in another lengthy piece by Umar Cheema claiming that Aitzaz Ahsan is “writing concluding chapters of his career in the role of a villain, bashing the rule of law, a budding rebel to the justice system he struggled for”. According to Cheema, this latest piece is to reverse his previous opinion in a previous piece that defended the Prime Minister’s counsel.

Here’s a thought – why don’t Jang Group‘s reporters stop giving their opinions altogether and instead try reporting some facts? Then they won’t have to suffer the embarrassment of writing new opinion pieces when they change their minds.

But these weren’t the only opinion pieces on page 3. Almost half of the entire page was taken up with a critique of the legal reasoning in the Prime Minister’s reply to the court by none other than Babar Sattar, another of Jang Group‘s opinion makers. And Sattar does not stop with offering his personal opinion on the Prime Minister’s reply, he goes on to suggest that it is “capable of inflicting serious harm on our nascent notions of democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism”, accusing the Prime Minister of “striking at the roots of democracy, rule of law and harmonious institutional evolution in the country”! This from the same man who claimed that in a case of military officers and intelligence agencies using public money in attempt to manipulate elections, “disclosure need not be public”.

In addition to page 3, pages 6 and 7 of The News, as usual, include editorials and opinion columns. But even the addition page 3 was not enough to contain all the opinions published in Wednesday’s newspaper! On page 8 appears the ‘Viewpoint’ of MQM advisor Salahuddin Haider arguing that the government should carve out a Mohajir province in Sindh.

A typical edition of The News includes two pages dedicated to opinion pieces. As Jang Group editors expand opinion pieces beyond the properly labeled ‘Opinion’ pages, the question obviously arises why a newspaper named ‘The News’ can’t fill its pages with factual stories instead of the opinions of its employees.

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