He is not one to sit back, even temporarily. Arguably the most active journalist, visionary editor and author of contemporary times, MJ Akbar, who recently parted ways with the Deccan Chronicle Group, is all set to launch his new venture. He has floated a new company, MJP Media, of which he is the Chairman & Director of Publications. The first product, ‘COVERT’, a political fortnightly, will hit the stands on May 15, 2008. Priced at Rs 20, the magazine will be edited by Seema Mustafa.
Mustafa, a long-time colleague of MJ since his days as editor of SUNDAY magazine (now defunct) and The Telegraph, both belonging to the ABP Group of Kolkata, too, parted ways with Deccan Chronicle/The Asian Age along with MJ.
Typical of the brand of journalism that he is known for, the mission statement of the magazine states: “Power is secretive about truth and propagandist about claims. Democracy demands media that reveals the covert, and sifts the overt to peel off propaganda. Knowledge is the ultimate asset of the citizen. We hope, in COVERT, to tease the truth out of the wrinkles of secrecy. Our weapon is the scalpel, not the sword; we prefer the soft-spoken word to the scream, a smile to anger.”
When contacted, MJ said, “Our political coverage will be heavyweight, but with a light touch. We hope civility will travel further than a scream, but our determination is non-negotiable. We will uncover news, not disseminate information that has already become limp on the pages of a newspaper or opaque on a television screen. This will be our difference.”
MJ added, “Exercise of power affects everybody. We hope to give an informed view of matters that affect people’s daily life. We will look at power through the eyes of the readers. The reader will be guide, mentor, companion and colleague on this journey.”
In a recent interview to Khaleej Times, Dubai, MJ had observed when asked about the state of today’s journalism: “I think there is space for not just an independent magazine but also for independent television, independent newspapers... everything in media should be independent.”
He also said: “I don't believe in media as a crusade. I believe media is for disseminating truth. That's our job. It's not our job to go into a permanent war with somebody. I am not interested in a permanent war with anyone, and certainly not with my government.”
Those who have known MJ closely over the last three decades cannot be faulted for expecting another exciting product that is sure to set new benchmarks in terms of content. Can we expect a revival of investigative journalism, which had hit a high point during his leadership of SUNDAY? When we asked him about the initial print run, he mentioned a modest figure of 25,000, but quickly added that “we are still getting orders, so the final print run is likely to be much higher. Call me on May 15, I will give you the exact figure”.
MJ Akbar parts ways with Deccan Chronicle, Asian Age; politics next?