death of print media in Maldives

Throughout the long regime of the former president, print media had a hard time coming of age and at last it seems our average print media has come to about the adolescence age.
Prior to Hukuru, print media was routinely tasteless only catering for the whims of the regime, printing what is acceptable to the regime and also what is not relevant. Everything changed with or about that time when Hukuru was born and overnight people had hope and issues to talk about. Politics it seems have ignited a fused long been protected by the regime. Then came the inevitable repercussions with the writers of hukuru being jailed and persecuted for things even which could now be said to be thought crimes.. Followed and on the heels of the success came Sangu which too made many ripples and openly raised many genies the then regime was trying to keep in the bottle. However Sangu was more diplomatic than Hukuru and the long queues people lined up to purchase those magazines are not something seen even in queues made to buy tickets for championship matches in the ‘Galolhu dhandu’.
After the persecution of those two early hopes of print media, all sorts of magazines (weeklies) burst into life but most had on the front pages a model girl and printed everyday nonsense issues such as whims and tantrums of our local film actresses…

A few years was wasted like that and then came Sandhaanu, a ‘folhi’ styled pamphlet exclusively on politics which circulated like hot cakes for a very media hungry country. Sandhaanu at the time appeared in mysterious ways sometimes as fliers, sometimes as faxes and emails. What was important was the content not the form at the time. The country was hungry for news and anyone who fulfilled that gap was in demand. The results of the folhi were immediately felt, people were becoming more aware of the scale of the corruption in the country and the increasing public awareness of the problems in the country must have been the catalyst for the inevitable defeat of the then invincible regime. Sandhaanu writers were found and tortured and jailed and ultimately freed because it caused the regime more problems than they anticipated.

Many things happened in between and at last the regime change which is perhaps the best moment for this country in many many years. After the accession to ‘throne’, the new president Anni made it a point to free the media from state controls by dispensing away with perks and privileges given to local dailies to promote state agenda which took the form of government sponsored ads for notices etc. The Government Gazette was formed to print these government notices and ads which was decried by the few dailies as a certain death blow to their daily operations. Death, they seems to have evaded to some extent because still Haveeru, Miadhu, Aafathis and Haama seems to be going on although there were talks of staff being fired from all these dailies except Haveeru. Time only will tell weather they can weather these tough times and emerge as respectable newspapers in the long run.

The often controversial Minivan News which lived a brief spell of time as print media saw it banned under the Maumoon administration in all government offices and Security Service, had an adventurous life which now enjoys the spiritual realm in the Internet. Minivan News it appears is closely linked with President Anni and is alleged to be written in the President’s Office which seems closer to truth than other explanations.

Its a fact that our print media is having a hard time at the moment but its also a fact that our print media has to do more to come out of the state of despair its currently in. Objective, well researched news and issues and writings can still fire up sentiments and sell a paper in this country. Bad journalism is to blame at present. Politics has its day and our dailies like everyone else is tainted with association with the regime one way or other way. But coming to present our journalists and writers has to do more than cry out nostalgia. Asking “What’s your favourite colour?” like questions to the then president was also a form of journalism suitable to a certain age and time but that time and age seems to have dissipated to memories of history we could rather do without.


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