Published in Pakistan Today on the 9th of April, 2012
A little over a decade ago Pakistani Media comprised of a single channel. Days were simpler, news was conveyed and both believed and doubted. There were people who believed that Media was state influenced. Then the first years of 21st century witnessed the advent of “free and independent” media in Pakistan and channel after channel popped on to our television screens. Excitement got the best of journalists as well as viewers for the first few years and viewers overlooked glitches and blunders, but now after more than a decade of the so called freedom and independence it is painful to find the maturity, that is much over due in our Media, absent.
It was very upsetting to see that the tragedy that struck our soldiers in Siachin was not deemed worth a few minutes of airtime by our television channels and yet the expected menu for Mr. Zardari’s lunch in India got the status of “breaking news” and several wasted minutes of airtime on more than one private TV channel. It is absurd that stupid and irrelevant statements of Indian celebrities make it to headlines of our news bulletins yet the avalanche that affected more than a hundred of our own soldiers and killed most of them is not news worthy? I do not intend to blame the entire industry but only those who, even if inadvertently, seem to be working on agendas and against the interests of Pakistan. This Industry has acquired a lot of power and influence but with that power there should come some maturity. The format of talk shows should now change from instigation to identification and resolution of issues, the theatrics like thrilling music and flashing of phrases like “breaking news” and “news alert” should be reserved for news that is actually breaking or alerting. And the childish race as to which channel got to a scene first is just sickening to the core, I fail to understand why it is believed that reaching first at a bomb explosion site would win people’s hearts and viewers actually care which channel was the first to reach a place where innocent fellow countrymen lost their lives, and even if it does benefit your ratings it is just too low a level to stoop for ratings. Even though our media is very touchy and sensitive to criticism, I only hope this too is taken responsibly and maturely.