A look in the mirror

I have been one of the biggest critics of main stream media in Pakistan for a while now. It is because I feel that journalistic integrity in broadcasting in Pakistan is becoming extinct. Anchors are dong their best to drag anything and everything through the muck of sensationalism to achieve higher ratings. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule, Fq’s Bang E Dara is one of them as he tries to focus on issues rather than ratings. Breakfast at Dawn with Naveen was another such show which has sadly now come to an end for her fans at least as Dawn has gone on austerity drive and relieved many of its long term employees from their positions including her.

However if we in the alternate media believe we are doing any better than MSM today we are clearly mistaken. Many that set out to be “alternate checks” to mainstream bias have now become part of the bias itself due to the traffic war. Case in point, an email was circulated recently to many in “New Media” with pictures of Meher Bukhari, Saima Mohsin, Shaukar Paracha and Asma shirazi in various poses at a party at the U.S Embassy. A clear violation of the very ethos that New media is founded on took place when blogs like Nowpublic , Current Affairs, Pakalert and many others wrote about these pictures and humiliated these journalists with tag lines like CIA hosts journalists and Drink and dance party with CIA etc etc.

Firstly let us be very clear on this, as  co blogger Dr Awab pointed out the pictures all start with the letter n and the serials after, thus proving that they have been taken from someone’s face book account. Secondly how many of us blogger’s would refuse an invitation to a party by Ann Patterson to meet new media at the U.S Embassy? Must we indulge in smearing campaigns and defamation of the highest degree in order to get a few thousand clicks more?

This is not the only case of defamation, New media is slowly turning into even a more vile form of the main stream media because its access is unlimited and its policing minimal. For this purpose the FIA has an active cyber crimes unit but I do not think  cyber defamation is something pursuable in Pakistani courts of law( I may be wrong here). My point is, that anyone can have an opinion and express it, but to call someone an immoral and CIA agent based on personal pictures from a private party is not only way below the belt but a clear indication of the mental level of that blog.

We the bloggers  are very apt at tearing apart politicians and MSM for their mistakes, but I feel the time has come to take a cold hard look in the mirror and see for ourselves what we have become. We must speak up against this trend of sensationalism in new media or we instead of being a solution to the problem will only become a manifestation of it.

I request all those blogs carrying this story to stop themselves from becoming tabloid’s and to remove it immediately. Just because we have the power of expression on the internet does not mean we ruin people’s public images with it. Power comes with responsibility, so please be responsible.

In other words, express your opinion but do not label someone without proof. It may get you traffic but it will never get you anywhere in the long run.

  1. Our media still needs to mature. We need realistic, unbiased reporting. Higher traffic may mean to some as the road to popularity, but the need of the day is constructive opinion making. This great responsibility lies on our media only, whether mainstream or alternative.

  2. FK, first of all, thank you for the mention. A well written piece. As I scream out every night, I strongly believe we spend our days and nights finding flaws in others so we never get questioned for our miserable efforts (lack of) to better anything at all. We don’t really want anything to change, because if it did, our sob stories and tales of deceit and misery will not fly an inch.

    I wish we could all just start working on the lowest hanging fruit, ourselves, and I assure you the world would be a better place within minutes… at least for ourselves.

    Once again… kudos for standing up and being counted.

  3. FK… Many a true words spoken in plain simple english!

    I hate watching any news or local QnA program nowadays… Its just plain simple bashing without any results. A bit like WWF but with no winners.

    You in the meanwhile please keep up with your co worker DOC ALVI!


    Mo in progress.

  4. Rumaisa. It’s not just media and unbiased reporting (and I’m not defending my community). People love debunking others. Makes us feel good in our mediocrity. We need to start creating leaders, ideals, and personalities from within us, instead of waiting for avatars, and angels to descend upon us. They all have better places to be. Same places we are so aching to be 😉

  5. Thanks for writing about this issue! I have been getting mails about it from different people. I don’t know what’s so exciting about it or how can such photos from a private party prove anyone a CIA agent. Our people are simply bored. They need to grow up!

    Yes, I admit if I were invited to such event, I would have attended it out of sheer curiosity. Though I have got two left feet so would have skipped dancing 😉

  6. Well written piece Faisal. I agree with whatever you have written here. It seems that the Media is unable to handle the freedom they have been given. They should be a bit more responsible. It seems they have not retained the services of a proper fact checker. I managed to read about the so called CIA party on a certain blog. It is really obvious that our media has gotten carried away with the CIA/Blackwater/Pakistan Army connection. It’s like as if the CIA is some sort of new entity in the global espionage game. Even a moron knows that CIA agents or some other black ops agency operative has a cover id while working in some foreign country. Our MSM (and some parts of the new media) behave some irresponsibly that they would automatically assume that any foreigner at an Embassy party is some sorta agent. It’s like as if they have some hidden talent which allows them to detect agents. They all need to grow up and change their tactics. They should stop making our people paranoid. Fox News had done a good job of creating hysteria amongst the American people. It seems that our media is doing the exact same thing.

  7. I bet I had dropped a comment on this post! But I can’t see it 🙄

    Okay I appreciate your stance and yes, I too had been getting those mails and it irked me too much. People need to grow up!

  8. Interesting insight Faisel! As we does talk about how the main stream media tends to play with populist mindset by creating a hype of news we also need to reflect upon the blogosphere! As self-policing is clearly absent, defaming individuals over something so juvenile is deplorable and it reflects an extremist mindset.

  9. Such moves by certain people only indicates to their dearth of journalistic maturity and an inability to engage in intellectual discourse – they, thus, go on to smear people personally and building an internet traffic on that. And that’s sad indeed!
    You very rightly point out that being a part of the alternative media, we are on a far more important and sensitive position when it comes to citing opinions – not only should our opinions be authentic and fact-based, they also need be rational and unbiased since all and sundry have an access to internet and they tend to take it as a primary source of gathering information and forming opinion.

  10. @Faisal,

    Its very easy to blame the new born media and its new born News anchor but have you thought for a little while on in which society are we living. The media is critical of what’s going wrong. I my opinion, the main problem we are facing, corruption, military intervention, feudalism etc. Our media has done a good job. What about the restoration of Judiciary? Can you name ten politician who have can be credited for this job? The bad is the society, the bad will our TV channels and Anchor shows this as they are the mirrors.

    In between, we will see improvement with the passage of time.

  11. Some days back I happened to read the headlines of daily Jung. The most important headline of that daily read like “Supreme Court doesn’t have to go into the question whether Zardari enjoyed the immunity or not, it has been settled (with some citation). After reading further that most important news, it transpired to me it was not a news, but personal opinion of Ansar Abbasi. Now media men are teaching laws to Supreme Court. Doesn’t it call upon Ansar Abbasi contempt proceedings?

    Disinformation in the name of information is every where. This is being done by CNN, BBC, FOX et al. But they “paint” the news in their talk shows with such an artistic way that it looks very much unbiased. However, these inernational channels were outsmarted by Aljazeera. Not in Pakistan. Here the disinformation in the name of “truth nothing but truth” is done in such a clumsy manner that even a layman smells a rat.

    I do agree that according to Charter of Human Rights of United Nations, every person has a right to pass life of their own choice as long as it does not affect the society. But when you assume celebrity figure and mudslinging is at your best, worse mudslinging returns. Media men and TV anchors should remain unbias as much as possible. The blogger has rightly pointed out, before showing mirrors to politicians, media first look their image in the mirror, lest it boomerangs.

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