State-run dailies seen as ignoring real issues
Although officials endorsed the view, they said people's problems were not altogether ignored by Anees, Hewad, Eslah and Kabul Times newspapers.
Anees and Hewad have a long history, but intellectuals said their content lacked creativity despite huge amounts of money spent on the newspapers.
These newspapers, focused on government activities and policies, did not carry stories on social issues, said Siddiqullah Tawhidi, head of Nai, an organisation that supports free Afghan media.
Considering the dailies the government's mouthpieces, he said they were published according to the dictates of the Ministry of Information and Culture. Repeated publication of articles in the papers has translated into a loss of readership.
Previously, the newspapers did have a variety of articles, but now they publish handouts from the state-controlled Bakhtar news agency, according to Habibullah Rafi, a writer and member of the National Science Academy.
With Eslah full of political news and views, Hewad and Anees cover national and international issues, but from a certain perspective. "Since the papers ignore the masses, the people don't read them at all," Rafi said.
The newspapers must accord priority to highlighting problems like corruption, drugs and challenges before the Afghan government, he stressed.
But Ali Sadiqyar, editor-in-chief of Anees, insisted that the masses' problems, security incidents, economy, cultural, art and sports were given due coverage.
The main cause behind monotonous content was that the state-controlled news agency constituted the only source of information for these morningers and eveningers, he said.
Without considering the value of the stories, the newspapers published news regarding the government's judicial and legislative organs, he said. If they did not publish such items, the editors were grilled by the officials concerned, he complained.
Deputy Information Minister for Publications Din Mohammad Mubarez Rashidi said the budget for publications, cultural affairs and youth was 580 million afghanis ($11.9 million), which was inadequate.
Currently, 42 TV channels and 140 radio stations, including 34 state-run, are operating in the country, he said, adding 50 TV channels and 150 radio stations had been issued work permits.
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