A Journalist Par Excellence

The sudden demise of Javed Ansari, Editor of SouthAsia magazine, is a great loss to print journalism.

December 2022

Javed Ansari, who served as the editor of a group of publications including SouthAsia, Slogan and Enterprise, passed away on Friday, November 18, 2022.

With the death of Javed Ansari, a veteran journalist, the field of journalism in Pakistan has lost a precious treasure. It was his brilliant mind and love of all things journalistic and literary that drew him so many admirers over the years. He was a friend and a mentor to the generations of young journalists and writers, always willing to help them in their professional pursuits. Being a literary critic and a journalist par excellence, he was always generous with his time, whenever it came to help others. In doing so, he remained well-committed to his work throughout his life till his last breath, defying a host of health challenges one has to face in one’s sunset years.

Javed Ansari graduated in English Literature from Karachi Universty in 1970. After passing out from the university, he joined the field of journalism and started working for ‘The Sun’ newspaper as its magazine editor. In fact, he was the youngest person to be appointed to such a leading position in the history of print media in Pakistan. Besides editing the magazine, he wrote a wealth of articles on prevailing social and cultural issues facing the country. From there, he switched to the world of advertising and joined Manhattan Leo Burnett in Karachi as its creative head.

He then left the advertising career and reunited with his first love by joining monthly SouthAsia magazine and remained its editor till the last moments of his life. It was his conscious decision to rejoin the profession of journalism and it was during his editorship that the magazine attracted well-known writers and columnists to contribute to the magazine.

Javed Ansari was amongst a very few people in Pakistan who pursued active careers in journalism, PR and advertising. He remained associated with the media industry for over 30 years and worked for some of Pakistan’s leading newspapers and magazines (Business Post, Sunday Post, The Sun and The Herald) in senior editorial positions, besides being instrumental in the founding of a number of new publications (Women’s Own, Smash, Slogan and Enterprise).

Javed Ansari was a legendary personality who was remarkably well-read. He was one of those rare breed of journalists who encouraged their younger colleagues in order to help them excel in their careers.

Friends and colleagues shared their memories of Javed Ansari as news of his passing away spread, describing him as someone who looked out for his colleagues and co-workers to help spread kindness and sincerity. He was regarded as one of the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals to grace the PR, advertising and publication sectors in Pakistan. While paying rich tribute to the lifelong services rendered by Javed Ansari, the Editor-in-Chief of SouthAsia, Syed Jawaid Iqbal termed his demise as a loss to the print journalism. “Javed Ansari was all alone a powerhouse in the magazine world but also a kind, thoughtful and warm person whom I was proud to know as a colleague and a very close friend.”

Expressing his views on the demise of Javed Ansari, Riaz Mansuri, a leading publisher said, “Javed Ansari played a pivotal role for the print sector, helping us expand to reach more readers and opinion leaders with an appetite for quality writing. No doubt, his sudden demise has left a vacuum and we all will miss him.”

Being an honest and passionate editor who loved his job, Ansari had almost an obsession with syntax and grammar with a vigilant eye for detail. Feeling no harm in being an unsung hero, he wanted every writer to become a leading voice. He was always open to critical questions and constructive feedback but hated those using flattery to get things done. An avid and voracious reader, he loved literature and was second-to-none in analysing and reviewing books on merit. He had empathy and good judgment and always encouraged writers to learn from their mistakes in order to hone both their analytical and writing skills.

Though he used to edit a piece mercilessly, however, he never liked making changes just for the sake of doing so. He was someone who loved to spot inconsistencies, improve sentences and revise their structures to bring in thought clarity and reader-friendliness. More than just an editor, he was an educator from head to toe, but only for those who were willing to learn from him. A man of principles, he allowed no room for errors and wanted everyone around him to get perfection in their job and work skills.

In the words of Spanish novelist Flannery O’Connor, ‘A good man is hard to find.’