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Exclusive Opinion

Chennai website sued by Times Of India, Why this kolaveri ?

Chennai based website TheWeekendLeader.com was featured at .com for its efforts on Positive Journalism about an year back. I was shocked when informed about the 1 Crore legal notice issued to the website by Times Of India’s legal department yesterday. “The M Factor“ written by a contributing author at TheWeekendLeader, published this week has raised the eyebrows of a few in TOI and has resulted in the legal notice.

It appears to me like a big brother threatening the small brother for stepping on his toes. TheWeekendLeader is a young website founded by P.C Vinojkumar – an ex Tehalka reporter and a well known journalist in the publishing media industry. The website publishes articles from various contributing authors and is an early adopter of the concept of Citizen Journalism. One of the key aspects of Citizen Journalism is to promote dialog from different groups through honest and often blunt disclosures. Blunt opinions are encouraged in open societies as it allows people from different walks of life understand other persons grievances which are often held back or overlooked. Citizen Journalism removes the cliche from reporting and gets to the nerve of issues.

Unlike traditional journalism, Citizen Journalism does not look for properly edited and formatted content, but for the spirit and soul of  the citizens. The article by Radhika Giri calls out the imbalance in the ethnic/linguistic composition of TOI’s Chennai editorial desk and has references from some journalists about the same. I think the author has dared to call a spade.

The bigger issue is that the Mullaiperiyar issue being referenced in the article is causing a wedge between two closely knit and otherwise friendly communities that share a common history and heritage. In my observation, the wedge however is being sharpened by some for petty reasons.

Here is a narration of recent news that I have been following – Folks from Tamil Nadu’s southern district put up a united front to decommission the Koodankulam Nuclear Plant (KKNP). Groups from Tamil Nadu and Kerala took active participation in the protests. The protests were gaining momentum as the entire nation started focusing on the issue and was soon to become a formidable menace for Delhi – under Indian National Congress. Then comes the entry of DAM999 – A movie partly funded by Kerala Government headed by Oommen Chandy of Indian National Congress.

The Mullaiperiyar issue has been brewing for more than a decade, but has taken new proportions under the new schemes of the Indian National Congress elements both in Kerala and Delhi.

Now how much of an evil spirit does it take to come up with a mastermind scheme to 1) Knock off the KKNP protests 2) Fill a dam that is not getting enough water (Idukki), thereby fulfilling the aspirations of interested elements?. Actually not much, if you know the tactics of parties such as Congress. The sad part is that Kerala opposition politicians are piking the petty tactics of the likes of Karunanidhi for whom riding on peoples passion is a skill all too well mastered. Who cares about unity of the nation, when it does not serve the benefits of petty politics.

Coming back to our topic – My friends at TOI – to be honest, yes I do feel that your team often overlooks my sentiments. I wish you withdraw the legal notice in the spirit of true journalism and start listening to your readers before somebody has to be blunt about it.