Blog libel suit in India

Mediaah! logoMediaah! is no more. The controversial media criticism weblog, run by Pradyuman Maheshwari, editor of the Maharashtra Herald in Pune, promoted itself as a “brutally unbiased” critic of Indian media, especially the massive Times of India. With the tagline, “The Media's Media. No-holds-barred news and commentary on the Indian media”, Mediaah! has been fiercely critical of the Times, which has responded with a libel suit and a demand to remove 19 posts from the Mediaah! site. Rather than remove the quotes, Maheshwari chose to shut down the site entirely.

Writing for USC Annenberg's Online Journalism Review, Mark Glaser sees the situation as a sad commentary on the state of media criticsm in India. Glaser points out that Maheshwari's recent criticism had been of the Times's ludicrious MediaNet initiative, where individuals and companies can buy “edvertorials” – photos and profile stories on the Times of India's editorial pages.

He points to voices around the Indian blogosphere, including my fellow WorldChanging contributor Rohit Gupta, calling for Indian bloggers to stand up to the Times, warning, “This concerns the freedom of all bloggers from Indian origin, so we will fight the battle for him.” Blogs like Mediaha and Save Mediaah have also taken up the cause.

But not everyone is so sad to see Mediaah! go. Kiran Jonnalagadda is unsympathetic: “When you criticise a publication’s lack of ethics, you do not do it by calling their editor a prostitute, fabricating a story, and excusing yourself with ‘haha, just kidding.'” And Dance With Shadows has an extended post, arguing that Mediaah!'s wounds are self-inflicted.

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