LAHORE: This past Sunday, I couldn’t find the usual copy of The Express Tribune Magazine. Instead, I found ‘a’ magazine but it bore no relation to the one I’d been expecting. It was called T-Edit and sported a picture of a dusky model in a mustard dress. I flipped through the rest of the magazine in horror. There were pictures of weddings, clothes and accessories. The new magazine looked like a smaller, more hesitant copy of another weekly fashion magazine. While other newspapers regularly shovel out drivel about interior designing and gossip from fashion show dressing rooms, T Magazine published solid articles about all kinds of issues. It lulled one into the sense that one lived in a country with intelligent people in it. Not anymore. Does “Style Anatomy” compare to illegal organ trade? Is designer jewellery more important than travelogues?
A lot of people complain that The Express Tribune is too liberal, too left and too besharam. I like it because 80 per cent of the time, if the paper publishes an article, a blog, a news story or an opinion piece, it sooner or later prints the other side of the story, an opposing viewpoint, or a fresh perspective. The paper has never shied away from holding up a mirror and then taking abuse from people who don’t like what they see. It has printed things that I’ve hated, but they’ve made me think. They’ve made me question the world I live in.
The introduction of this new magazine means that The Express Tribune felt that it needed to completely revamp its magazine and shift its genus to fit the penchants of another audience entirely; that the readership it had been targeting had disappeared overnight and that no one cared anymore.
There are plenty of magazines that tell people about all the expensive designer wear they must have to continue being able to show their face in polite society, but there weren’t a lot that talked about the problems of running an amusement park, the people working at brick kilns or boxers in Lyari. It’s probably stupid to care or be disappointed at the change in the magazine and most readers will likely welcome it.
I visited the new magazine’s Facebook page, hoping that maybe it hadn’t been completely mutilated and instead would come out on a weekday. The “About” section now reads: “Home of The Express Tribune’s Fashion Magazine”. Kill me, please.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2016.