HAPPY 14TH BIRTHDAY, GOAN OBSERVER!

Letter from the publisher

SMALL media the country over is taking a beating like never before. Questions to ask: Why? Why is there so much money rolling in for big media being bought over by business groups with political affiliations and how it will impact the independence of media in the long run? Who’s asking and questions and thinking about it? I dare say very few at aam aadmi level! Is life is any easier to live with closed (or even half-closed) eyes, ears, mouth –as in the case of the proverbial three monkeys?

We at the Goan Observer, Rajan Narayan’s political weekly, turns all of 14 years this month. We know full well that the current political tide is hostile towards any  small media – be it print or electronic – which is dedicated to opposition journalism. Always an uphill task, it’s even harder these days to vis-à-vis raising enough revenue to stay true to our brief.  A brief of staying alive and kicking, barking and biting, saying it defiantly as it is  in black and white. There are no 60 shades of grey as far as the editor of Goan Observer is concerned. There is only the white of the truth and the black of the lie.

Fortunately or unfortunately, as publisher of this weekly and wife of Rajan Narayan, I sometimes do ask him if we must always be on the side of the nasty, be critical of government and chief minister of the day? He can still give me a look to make hell freeze over or so to speak. Scathingly he tells me to look around to smell the stink of the black lies about a government in power…isn’t the truth self-evident and around for all to see?

Goa is in a mess. The mess promises to get messier. It is  nowhere near being cleaned up. Small realities reflect larger realities. A mess of garbage, roads, waterways, market places, drainage systems, sewage systems and in the homes of aam aadmi and even khaas aadmi (living  lifestyles on borrowed funds!). When “progress and development” is increasingly dedicated to filling up private pockets at the expense of air, earth and water and much more, the questions arise and the answers become self-evident.

This is to say over the 15 years of supporting the Goan Observer through good and bad times I’ve rued some things but never the editor’s raison d’etre in consistently showing the other side, the side increasingly being camouflaged and dismissed as not important for the people to see or take cognizance off. The side doesn’t varnish if you don’t see it reflected in print or electronic media day in and day out…to show the other side of the coin, the side the political establishment of the day would rather hide, confuse or compromise with, is a cardinal principle of journalism. Any media or Fourth Estate worth its salt is bound by the Constitution of a democratic country to present the balance sheet of governance and the dark spots on it; the lies, the cheating, the U-turns, the mega stealing and then the excuses and justifications.  

This is to say the Goan Observer has seen some political history come and go and some even say Rajan Narayan has lost the good fight! Friends advise him, he can’t win, close down your paper before it’s too late. What’s too late? When the editor of a small gutsy political weekly dedicated to Goa’s larger long term good gives up, or when the people of Goa give up? To my mind if media organizations bow and bend before power and pelf, graft and brute governance, if it constantly compromises with political chicanery and  misdeeds — it is every bit as culpable as the government vis-à-vis accountability and responsibility.

We must keep the flame of the good fight burning for its inherent values. All there is left to say for the 14th birthday of the Goan Observer is to wish it more support in cash and in kind — in cash by way of more advertising revenue, and in kind by way of inputs by a younger generation sharing the same never-say-die philosophy and vision of the editor of this weekly. Take some of the burden of fighting the good fight off his increasingly frail shoulders…

As wife I am surely biased. But as publisher of Goan Observer I am as committed to the cause of a cleaner, greener, happier Goa. Last but not least of all I thank all our readers, well-wishers, advertisers, directors and staff for staying with us through all our trials and tribulations.

— Tara Narayan

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