The debasement of the editorial and op-ed page of newspapers, by turning them into the plaything of maaliks and marketing mavens, is a work in rapid progress.
Hindustan Times and The Indian Express run signed advertisements by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath—an extension of the jacket ad flanking their front pages, to mark his fourth anniversary in office.
In the alternative universe of Hindi newspapers, Adityanath modestly salutes his stupendous “administration” on the edit pages of ‘Dainik Jagran’, ‘Amar Ujala’, ‘Navbharat Times’ and ‘The Pioneer’.
Since August 2020, the astute social media watcher Karthik Srinivasan has compiled the paid advertisements, advertorials and articles of Adityanath in the print medium.
The thread now has 44 revealing tweets on how taxpayers’ money is being squandered.
The quantum of Adityanath’s ads, advertorials and articles have shot through the roof since the COVID crisis began, and have been a source of succour for publications in a period of low economic activity marked by advertising and circulation squeeze.
The ads cover the whole gamut of issues: Atmanirbhar, Bonds, COVID, Defence, Development, Ease of doing business, Employment, Farmers, Healthcare, Investments, Jobs, Migrants, MSMEs, Safe city project, Self-help groups, Skills, Social security, Trillion dollar economy, Women’s security.
But the advertising blitzkrieg—a page straight out of Narendra Modi‘s campaign preceding his arrival on the national scene—serves to silence independent verification by the media of the exaggerated claims, especially in a state which has much to be modest about.
At least a dozen top newspapers run the fourth anniversary ads. More likely than not none of them will have stomach to dig deep into the claims.