Dawn News

Blow to the media

PAKISTAN’S electronic media has demonstrated often enough that it has grown faster than it has been able to mature. In this context, the scandal that has broken out in the wake of business tycoon Malik Riaz’s allegations against Arsalan Iftikhar, the chief justice’s son, is mind-blowing. On Wednesday, a news channel aired a ‘special’ during which two anchors ‘grilled’ Mr Riaz. A day later, the public was treated to behind-the-scenes footage of the three talking off-air. The video is compromising and indicates that the interview was fixed, with Mr Riaz approving the questions beforehand. A couple of phone calls, with the callers giving instructions and advice, during the clip have also dragged other names into the fray. More disturbingly, certain comments on this clip have led to concerns that the latter may have been ‘bought’ by Mr Riaz. A list of several journalists who allegedly received funds/favours from Mr Riaz has been in circulation — although Bahria Town has denied its authenticity.

The affair has blown the lid off two issues: intellectual dishonesty where the public is duped through set-ups and planted stories, and the clout wielded on TV channels by some of those being quizzed. Neither is new or limited to Pakistan. Unfortunately, what is popularly known as lifafa journalism, where some newsmen received money or favours from the police, agencies and politicians, has expanded to include business interests seeking to buy the sympathies or silence of journalists. So what lessons do we walk away with? First and foremost, the media in general needs to ponder over what constitutes integrity in journalism. For this, an internal mechanism imparting the values of ethical journalism is a necessity at media houses. The public, meanwhile, must learn to be more educated consumers of the news and not take everything at face value. At the same time, we hope that such incidents do not translate into a situation where the entire media is regarded as tainted. The media’s independence today has been achieved after decades of struggle against obscurantist regimes. The actions of a few should not tarnish the good work of others.

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Comments (21) Closed

Jun 16, 2012 12:19am
Shame on the media!!!!!
Jun 15, 2012 11:46pm
The media is being cut down to size, thanks to its penchant for sensationalism and conviction that it cannot be held responsible. First the tamasha with TV Anchors chasing couples in a park, now caught in collusion with a real-estate magnate. may not surprise many, but their independence, often doubted, is confirmed to be a mirage, and the media is, at least in some quarters, just a institution that is "bought" for the right price, either by big business or b y the military.
Jun 15, 2012 10:57pm
haha it's funny actually..media being a victim of it's own devices. It's good that the issue has come to the forefront. Strict action should be taken against the hypocritical anchors who grill other people on corruption on their highly rated talk shows. Although corruption is widespread in Pakistan, controlling corruption in media is essential as it has the power to change the perception of people. Let's hope positives come out of this love triangle between media, judiciary and the real estate tycoon,
Jun 15, 2012 10:48pm
We had army bashing, we had politician bashing, we had judiciary bashing, and now one hopes an era of media bashing has begun. What goes around comes around.
Shhjahan Bhatti
Jun 16, 2012 02:36pm
Media is as corrupt as entire system that rules Pakistan. Rationality and objectivity is absent.
Iftikhar Husain
Jun 16, 2012 11:05am
There may be some media persons who are not honest but one thing is certain that because of the media this big corouption has come in the front. There must be regulations for the control of independent media which is ear and eye for the people. I am glad that is dicussed in all forums because of media.
Muhammad Alvi
Jun 16, 2012 10:11am
Pakistani system is too corrupt. Media is part of the same system,and people working in the media are also corrupt. You cannot expect otherwise. The main point here is the real estate tycoon, Riaz. He has learnt to use this corrupt system. It seems that he has bought every person of any position, because they are all on sale. Now he is trying to bring down the Supreme Court. Just imagine, the president of Pakistan, Zardari, traveled in Riaz's personal jet, when he traveled abroad recently for his medical treatment. Whatever the case, the Supreme Court must be saved and honoured , otherwise there will be complete anarchy and nobody will be safe. Riaz is exceeding all limits and needs to be controlled.
Jun 16, 2012 01:02am
I wish if the media can start discussing some real issues that haunt us today like growing intolerance, education conundrum, poverty, hunger, population explosion and deteriorating economy.
Jun 16, 2012 01:59am
Given the media's meteoric rise in Pakistan at the cost of morality and tax evasion, it is the need of the hour to make an example of all the repugnant characters involved in these practices. No amount of ratings makes one above the law. It's time for external regulators to take media to task. No amount of self regulation can cure this evil.
Jun 16, 2012 05:06am
Sir, you do not do justice by going with the crowd. Clearly, the TV channel brought Malik Riaz for the interview after agreeing with him on some points. Is this unique? Watch Nixon-Foster and see how this is the norm. What is the wrong doing if off air the anchors and the interviewee are not fighting it out? The popular anger is more of a Pavlovian response. We have imbibed the narrative of anger for too long and now anger is the only natural response at anything complex or something requiring some analysis. Unfortunately, your editorial despite being restrained goes with the flow and lends support to knee jerk anger and fall in credibility of media.
Jun 16, 2012 06:48am
Sir, you do not do justice by going with the crowd. Clearly, the TV channel brought Malik Riaz for the interview after agreeing with him on some points. Is this unique? Watch Nixon-Foster and see how this is the norm. What is the wrongdoing if off air the anchors and the interviewee are not fighting it out?
Jun 16, 2012 06:57am
This land of 180 Millions Pures , never finishes to amaze itself and the world around it with such spicy Drama
Jun 16, 2012 07:15am
What comments are left to be made on these shameless media people. Like others in corrupt society of pakistan, these so called journalists are taking share of the pie and decieving general public and sleeping with politicians and real state tycoons of their choice. Is there anyone one can trust?
aysha tehreem
Jun 16, 2012 07:52am
Malik Riaz is only one name which has come into lime light for paying the media persons. Black mailing by the big name of media is not unheard. the illicit atrocious figure given by real state tycoon is just a peanut for these media persons, who are being paid by the foreign powers as well. obstinate towering personalities sitting in judiciary, media, establishment, parliament and bureaucracy of this downtrodden nation are least pushed abut the national integrity and honor.
Shakeel GHOURI
Jun 16, 2012 08:33am
Absolutely right that the work of few hoodlums should not be regarded as the practice of whole. Media in general doing well in bringing about awareness to the masses on national issues. In other words we can say that it is a voice of voiceless and marginalized. Notwithstanding this, It is equally true that like other sectors of country, here, too, few self-centered people are working who don't care of any national sentiments against their wills and luxuries. Keeping in view that media plays a vital role in forming public opinion which afterward becomes a solution in coping with any problem, Maker or supporter of such false stories should be punished so that media may play its role transparently
Mahd Gul
Jun 16, 2012 08:33am
Some suggest that "self restraint" is a better solution instead of government decided 'code of conduct'. I will suggest a society decided code of conduct that should be implemented by the media and the government. Involvement of society will also help manage the hyper growth that actually causing damage to freedom of expression, and integrity of media.
Ajaz Hussain
Jun 16, 2012 08:35am
This incident really hurt us!
Jun 16, 2012 09:26am
Thanks to the person who leaked the off air recording , we need more hero like him to bring truth in front of people. We need a nationalized Wikileaks
Maroof Alam
Jun 16, 2012 09:48am
Lets not expect high from media persons. They are members of this society that is corrupt to the core and hence they can't be blamed too much for that. Moreover, with due apology, we all know what lot opts journalism as their career in Pakistan. These are normally the people with the worst academic abilities (with aversion to science and maths sans net surfing). So approaching and dissecting a problem in the most illogical way stems from their lack of intellectual abilities and dishonesty offcourse is the dearest virtue of us Pakistanis.
haider shaikh
Jun 16, 2012 05:20pm
The anonymous whistle blower in the media gate scandal should be saluted. The entire nation is thankful to him/her for exposing the Machiavellian face of some media people, who are using it for their personal interests. i would say he/she is a real hero who has foiled the great conspiracy against the august supreme court and saved the country from further destabilization.
Jun 16, 2012 07:13pm
Completely disagree. It is actually the honesty and professional integrity of very few that is keeping real ' journalism' in Pakistan alive albeit on a respirator! The stench of moral and ethical decomposition at institutional level is becoming unbearable. The implanted rulers perhaps are blind, deaf and dumb. It frightens me, however, to know that they hold the key to this respirator.