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Media and responsibility

June 22, 2012

THE rightly-acclaimed fourth pillar of democracy, the media, appeared to be crumbling with what had happened recently on a private news channel. The episode that comprised the ‘hard talk’ was in fact a farce: a planned and planted programme by ‘interviewers’ for bailing out their guest for some ulterior motives.

One is at a loss to understand why the management of the channel allowed the programme by the two hosts who damaged the reputation of an otherwise prominent channel and also the much-cherished profession of journalism.

It would be in the fitness of things if a thorough probe is conducted to ascertain the facts of the matter.


Lost faith

ONCE again Pakistan stands at a crossroads of its destiny. We have had so many scandals that it is difficult to keep track of them.

However, the latest scandal, which involves the property tycoon and the son of the Chief Justice, could be rightly called the mother of all scams.

I would call it a ‘blessing in disguise’. How we can turn this sordid affair into a blessing is by forcing the tycoon to name all those who have benefited from him.

It pained me to see a TV anchor, who otherwise leaves no stone unturned to prove his credentials as upright and a bully, be in cahoots with Malik Riaz during a pre-rehearsed interview.

After watching this episode on TV, I have lost faith in all institutions as they have been whittled away. A major surgery is the need of the hour, painkillers wouldn’t help anymore. We all look forward to nature to give us a ‘messiah’.

WG-CDR (Rtd) JAMSHED SAVUL Peshawar Cantt

Code of ethics

THE emergence of multiple TV channels within such a short time, without an independent regulatory body to enforce a code of ethics, has become a problem.

There seems to be neither a system nor an effort to scrutinise anchors or journalists with an adequate pay package to resist the temptation of becoming an instrument of abuse and blackmail.

What the media failed to understand is that it has to function in a responsible manner, never to be seen distorting facts and disseminate false propaganda, which is against public interest.

Unfortunately, the balance between corporate profits and public service has not been maintained.

Resorting to sensationalism by design and becoming instruments in the hands of vested interests, big business and political parties, or allowing personal biases to override professional integrity were bound to backfire, which is what is happening.

Can the media justify exposing the identity of victims and family members of rape victims just to hike ratings?

Democracy is a system of governance with the sole objective to serve collective welfare of the majority and enforce the rule of law.

It becomes an abuse of democracy, if like dictatorship, the system is used for the benefit of a few, which is what has been happening in this country.

The media antagonises the viewer with an indoctrinated interview of a man accused of taking over land belonging to the poor and giving away villas etc to members of civil or uniformed bureaucracy and a few black sheep in the media. Instead, he scandalises the Supreme Court led by the Chief Justice.

The media should never be seen as an instrument of spreading disinformation, subverting truth and maligning institutions which have credibility in the eyes of the public.

Francis Bacon wrote in 1625: “Nothing doth hurt in a state than when cunning men pass for wise.”

It is time the media reformed itself.