No news is good news in the editor’s family?

Should a newspaper editor or owner not publish the achievements or news of his or her family at all costs in his or her publication? Is publishing such news always a sign of “nepotism”?

Should India Today proprietor Aroon Purie‘s publications refrain from mentioning Koel even if her films become blockbusters? Should Anil Dharker not mention his daughter Ayesha‘s name in a review even if she wins the Oscar? Should M.J. Akbar‘s Asian Age not carry the news if his son Prayag tops the London School of Economics?

It’s an interesting topic for debate, and it comes to the fore courtesy Vidya Ram, the daughter of The Hindu‘s N. Ram. Vidya topped the Columbia School of Journalism Class of 2007, and it was a piece of news that was duly noted on the back page of most editions of the newspaper along with a picture of the girl, who bears a remarkable facial similarity to her father.

But, it was on the front page of the Madras edition!

The publication of the news item, which was not on any agency ticker, first got blogosphere all hot and het up. “Nepotism in Chindu,” screamed “The Chindu” which parodies what it calls CB-CNN, aka the “Chennai-based Chinese National Newspaper”.

It now turns out that several readers of The Hindu too were miffed to write to the Readers’ Editor, K. Narayanan, on the issue. “Shocking, blatant nepotism, parochial behaviour, out of character, dynastic politics—these were some of the epithets in the messages I received from readers,” writes Narayanan in his fortnightly column today.

“Would the daughter of an ordinary employee have got the same coverage, asked one reader. She would, and should, for any similar achievement or distinction. The Civil Services examination topper from Tamil Nadu this year (K. Nandakumar, all-India 30th rank and State first) was a lorry driver’s son and his feat received due notice.”

But no other Indian newspaper has reported Vidya’s feat? Is that because they did not receive the news, or is it because it isn’t news?

Read the full article: Sense of propriety in news and design

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