Dawn News

Illustration by Eefa Khalid/Dawn.com

To see how someone will react to a certain situation, is it fair to create that situation first – or wait it out until it happens naturally? This could be debated upon but certain factions of media seem to have already made up their minds about this. We have seen this very clearly in Indian news channels and now also in Pakistan and a few other South Asian countries – create situations and hope for a response controversial enough to be 9 pm’s Breaking News.

Media personnel, often hungry to be known as ‘investigative journalists’ seem to forget that the purpose of investigation is to investigate and expose crimes which have either taken place already or are in the process of taking place. Our impulsive and confused-about-ethics journalists instead think it is okay to set-up a scene and then provoke someone to commit a mistake and then claim, ‘Aha! I knew it! File the story; we have some great scoop coming up.’

As Saba Naqvi points out in an article on Outlook India.com: Do our numbed senses now need something really salacious for us to sit up and take notice? In our desire for a TV fix do we really care about the ethics of taping or tapping someone? Who cares about farmers who routinely commit suicide. Bring on the sleaze and sex, the riveting images of shifty-eyed men taking bribes or actors being caught propositioning women!

Naqvi’s questions do not apply to India alone, for Pakistan itself is embroiled in this deep state of confusion where sting operations are being carried out for the sake of ‘public interest’. And having very little knowledge ourselves on what is right and what is wrong, it is safe to say that yes, the public is interested – but are these ‘revelations’ doing us any good? Are we even benefiting from these ‘shockers’?

Let’s take an Indian Channel’s example from last night. The private channel aired a video and published a report on its website, claiming to have carried out a sting operation revealing the involvement of umpires from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in match-fixing. The ICC has called for evidence and further development is yet to be seen. However, if the evidence does go against these specific umpires then viewers will expect the relevant course of action to be taken against them but until then, I need to understand how is this pertaining to public interest?

The only thing here that seems to interest the public is: -    Why were Indian umpires not in the list? -    Why wait a few months to reveal this video? -    Is it safe to say that India’s disappointment on losing the WT20 has diminished just because a feel-good-about-ourselves distraction is airing on their TV channels? -    How much more explosive would this have been if Pakistan or Sri Lanka would have won the World T20?

I have read dozens and dozens of comments from Indians and Pakistanis on Dawn.com’s article on this matter and the above mentioned questions are the only thing they seem to be pinching each other about. What no reader seems to be wondering is, could this act have not been called entrapment? Or any similar act for that matter (carried out in EITHER of our countries). If not contacted by these “investigative journalists” would the “accused” have even faced such a situation in his career?

When it comes to sting operations and cricket, media houses know regardless of the outcome, an exposé on cricket will almost always equate to a success with the viewers. Our obsessive nationalist attachment to the sport makes it impossible for us to accept a defeat as a defeat. Be it Hafeez or be it Dhoni, today they are our heroes, tomorrow we will not just criticize them for a loss but almost demonize them. Come up with a million and one justifications on why they should be sacked or completely banished from the sport.

Leaving aside snide comments about match fixing, doesn’t every team enter a tournament with the intention to win? Then why is it that defeat often leads our media into become the instigators of angry tirade against our team.

Like I said earlier, this doesn’t necessarily apply to cricket in South Asia, the peeping-tom syndrome has swept over in various aspects of our life – but is that okay?

Editors who allow their ‘investigative team’ have a duty to ensure that their reporter does not have any external motivation for carrying out a specific operation.

An independent blogger asks his audience a very important question when it comes to sting operations: Is (the sting operation) it merely going to test the moral fabric of a person? How many normal honest people will be able to resist the temptation of risk-free money thrown at them or a good-looking girl knocking at their doors voluntarily?

Corruption needs to be exposed, be it cricket or politics, but one wonders, does it need to be manufactured?


The writer is the Deputy Editor at Dawn.com

Shyema Sajjad is a former Dawn staffer.

She tweets @ShyemaSajjad

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (18) Closed

Oct 09, 2012 11:01am
For the sake of cricket let us pray that this whole video is fake and these upmires have been accused falsely. But if it is true I wonder why it would be entrapment. A cricket umpire should not get tempted to give a false decision under any temptation. And we should resist the temptation to shoot the messenger if the message is not to our liking. Whether Indian umpires are corrupt is a different matter altogether, may be they are even more corrupt and definitely sub-standard. The argument that this is a case of sour grapes for India is illogical.
Oct 09, 2012 12:10pm
I am sure most of these journalists would themselves accept bribe if offered, especially those working for India TV. Hypocrites.
Oct 09, 2012 03:56pm
I think your memory is very weak. The same India TV sting five Indian player who are life banned by BCCI. Before giving comments just refreshed your mind and updated. yourself
Oct 09, 2012 12:49pm
So is it media that is responsible for creating 'fixing' in cricket!! That's like blaming the British tabloid NOTW of creating spotfixing. The news channel in the present case has not created 'fixing' but has created an instance of it to reveal the existence of such activities in international cricket.
faisal saeed
Oct 09, 2012 11:23am
I couldn't agree more with the writer, that how creating and fabricating a situation become litmus test for somebody's integrity. Why are you checking out the morality of others rather than exposing something which actually exists on ground.
Akmal Qabal
Oct 09, 2012 11:33am
The argument would be illogical if Indian umpires were named, or at least an attempt was made to trap them and show the outcome to the public. After all this was the the investigation of an Indian channel, so its odd not to see a single Indian umpire in the line up. With the amount of social issues prevalent in South Asian societies, journalists don't need to create the news. All they need to do is investigate the issues that already exist. But then again 'Massala' news sells more.
Oct 09, 2012 04:54pm
giving an unneeded EMOTIONAL TWIST, to the real NEWS!
Oct 10, 2012 02:26pm
Oct 10, 2012 08:11am
IF you would have read properly you would have noticed that heading for that list reads: "The only thing here that seems to interest the public is". She is actually criticizing the public for having only this concern. Pakistanis and Indians, get your head out of your country and learn to think with a neutral mind, otherwise you will take everything out of context and never learn anything.
Talat Ali Hamdany
Oct 10, 2012 07:23am
There are I believe no Indian umpires on the ICC panel. That's the sting. Please editor stop your moderation stuff on me.
Oct 09, 2012 04:04pm
The blogger's grouse is, no Indian umpire is named. We have another name for the sting operation: 'Investigative journalism' which the blogger must be aware of. If not for this chief weaponry, the media and the public would never have unraveled mystery of the 2G scam and others in India. Ms. Blogger, do you have anything like equivalent to RTI Act in Pakistan? You have a long, long way to catch up with us.
Oct 10, 2012 05:47am
Akmal, You will be glad to hear that there is news in India today that there is very wide belief that the umpires at the second and lower level are very corrupt in India. This does not come as a surprise to many in India. May be Pakistan can beat India in Cricket but I doubt if you can ever beat us in corruption! I do not think India wants or can take a holier than thou attitude ever on corruption. For the other three nations whose umpires are involved in this issue, it is in their own interest to investigate this further to eradicate. India has a very huge problem of corruption in all walks of life and is going to take huge efforts to root out!
Oct 09, 2012 05:24pm
Sometimes ?? I guess its most of the times a creation of media because media outlets need to earn profits. so they have to create enough news for that matter
Oct 10, 2012 03:37pm
it not sometimes :), whatever covered by media becoem a "True News" for innocents.
Oct 10, 2012 07:35am
You made the point and is well written but I don think Indian umpire are exempted because of the love for country. Most of the reputed umpires are from Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Ranjit singh
Oct 10, 2012 03:14am
Very well written
Oct 09, 2012 06:40pm
Nice article Miss ! The 'Stng Operation' is day by day brainwashing our mindsets regarding the so called BREAKING NEWS. In life, everyone has got some boundaries & so the media. The question from them is why do the don't keep news as a bare 'news'!. They just want to give them a gossiping context and thats all!
Gerry D'Cunha
Oct 09, 2012 11:18am
pakistani tv channels viewed around the world has damaged the minds of the pakistanis who love their country so much to such an extent that they are frightened to visit pakistan themself or with their families.