When the Express News office was under attack, nobody cared

Published: August 16, 2013

A view of police officers reaching the Express News office. PHOTO: JAHANZAIB HAQUE

Earlier this morning, a group of armed men – four to be precise – riding motorcycles, opened fire at the Express News office in Karachi. This was at precisely 11:30am this morning. Around 38 rounds were fired and the men escaped via Baloch Colony, unharmed.

One security guard and a female employee were injured and both of them were shifted to a hospital for treatment. Hopefully, they will survive.

I am telling you all of this because contrary to what you may believe, no major news organisation covered the attack; not one.

You’d think such a cowardly attack on Express News office would rile the media community immediately; that they would rally to condemn the attack on their fellow comrades.

Wrong.

Nobody bothered to cover this news. Geo, ARY, Capital TV, Aaj News, Dawn News, Dunya, TV One News, CNBC Pakistan – no one cared enough to even run a ticker on this tragic event. No media organisation deemed 38 bullets fired at the Express News office important enough to come forward and lend support.

In my opinion, this should have been breaking news on all mainstream news channels, considering the fact that headline news often features ‘facts’ like Priyanka Chopra’s foray into American music via Pitbull; Katrina Kaif and Salman Khan’s on-again, off-again relationship; Abhishek Bachchan’s wedding to Aishwarya Rai, et al. However, I was horrified to observe that no news outlet offered any coverage to this event, which is actually news.

I have often heard the statement that there is no dignity left in the profession of journalism. Today, sadly, this statement rings true. I consciously went through some of the mainstream news channels earlier this morning in hopes to find different perspectives on the news. Sadly, I found nothing. Channels actually ran re-runs, because they considered this more important; they’d rather show you the previous night’s program than report on such an appalling and disturbing attack.

It is no secret that Pakistan is one of the world’s most dangerous place for journalists. In such a circumstance, one would think that journalists would come together and form a protective ring; that they would at least empathise as they could very well be in a similar position the next day. However, there is no such luck in Pakistan because rivalries matter more than humanity here. No one came forward on TV to say,

“These are our colleagues and this is not acceptable.”

No. This kind of compassion doesn’t exist where ratings are concerned.

Many political parties have come forward and have condemned the attack, but news channels maintain their resolute silence  perhaps reveling in the misfortune of their compatriots.

I’m embarrassed to call myself a member of Pakistani media today.

Maheen Sabeeh

Maheen Sabeeh

A freelance journalist who blogs at maheensabeeh.wordpress.com and tweets @maheensbh (twitter.com/maheensbh)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ali

    And guess what! not even a signle comment on this article:(Recommend

  • Shahid Ashraf

    If other channels had reported, Express News’ ratings would have increased and theirs have decreased. How could that be acceptable to them? Economics and business is above professionalism or ethics here!!

    Hope the staff is safe.Recommend

  • Saad

    I’m embarrassed to call myself a member of Pakistani media today You must actually. You know how our media works, They get a news; drag it at the maximum point of rating. No matter whatever Masala (lie) they have to add to the news. Our Media needs a revision. It sucks at big time. They work more like Star-Plus than their actual function which is to convey the TRUTH to the nation, which infact they never did. Today our country’s international image which has been deteriorated & Media deserves the credibility for it.Recommend

  • Rational

    True, this is very unfortunate. It was not an attack on Express group alone. It was an attack on the whole Pakistani media. Learn to back each other guys because tomorrow it could be your turn and then nobody will come to your rescue. Ponder over this. Recommend

  • Rahema Hasan

    demise of pakistani society. we lack unity when it comes to condemning or appreciating something. we think as an individual, be it be on a personal level, organization, etc. we undertake those tasks which suit us, the rest we dont care. this particular media incident even is a complete reflection of our society. a self centered society sadly, running after fame and moneyRecommend

  • Anon

    Woah. I’m surprised at your surprise. Have you only just noticed that journalism is not really a profession filled with morality in Pakistan. I guess things have to hit close to home wake certain people up. Like everything else, its a race to make money.

    Now, suddenly, those Priyanka Chopra headlines are beginning to sting. People have been screaming themselves hoarse over this issue, but no news channel (Express included) is willing to take an ethical or moral stand on their content. Nobody is willing to sacrifice ratings. So it is at least a little ironic that Express is complaining about a lack of media ethics!

    Of course, one test will be whether this comment makes it past the “censor board”!Recommend

  • SarcasticBilla

    Not sure what the whining is all about, Express would’ve done the same had this happened to any other channel’s office. This is bound to happen when the mission statements of all our channels read ” Get the maximum ratings on 200 people meters countrywide regardless of any ethical or moral complications”Recommend

  • LMAO

    yeh to LMAO Hogaya : DRecommend

  • ModiFied

    Did someone try to find out who the shooters were and what was their motive ? Probably Pakistan has one of the highest gun ownership per capita in the world. I have seen people spraying bullets in public for flimsy reasons. It won’t be wrong to assume that a large number of these guns owners are available to execute any killings for a sum of money. Shooters were only the hired guns. Please try to find out as to who are the paymasters. Yesterday another guy in Islamabad held half the city literally to ransom for whole day. Pakistan is in a total disarray. House is burning and the owners are having party and firing at LoC. This deafness and dumbness and the part of Pakistani media not to show solidarity is part of the same social disease Pakistan is suffering from. Same can be said about the Pakistani response to the firings at LoC. Whole India has gone hysterical at the killing of their five soldiers whereas in Pakistan its a very mixed reaction. It seems Pakistanis have got immune to the violence and shootings. Sad for Pakistan. Recommend

  • Maryam

    the media is highly irresponsible, yesterday’s episode tells us that there is no such thing as media ethics and media will do anything for the ratings!

    I am glad, someone from the media is finally ashamed of media. I am sure it help !Recommend

  • Indian

    Why is Pakistan media not united against terrorists when one of the media is attackedStay safe Express Tribune. Unfortunately no unity among journalists and media groups of Pakistan. In Pakistan no one bothers about the other. Pakistan media should Unity is strength. Terrorists are much more united in Pakistan than media people,unfortunate.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Because of prolonged violence and unrest, Pakistanis have become highly desensitized towards loss of life and property. You can die on the street and not many will care. The society,through its religious roots glorifies war and conflict and hence, we do not see any empathy among people at all.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Considering the volume of violence occurring on a daily basis firing and scooting will not make news. The Press needs to see copious amounts of blood shed and a high score of fatalities to cover the event. They have no time for minor fireworks.Recommend

  • Nuur Hasan

    The standard of your TV channel and especially Tribune is so low that ACTUALLY nobody cares. I dont! To gain sympathies, first you have to do something worthwhile. Substandard journalism doesnt mean that your office should come under attack but yeah axiomatically why would someone be bothered? – 1) we have better things to do. 2) we have better news channel and media sources to watch.Recommend

  • http://trango.co/top-5-bluearea-islamabad-memes/ Editor at Trango

    “I’m embarrassed to call myself a member of Pakistani media today.”

    so quit in protest already.Recommend

  • SM

    Express in the footsteps of Geo TV!
    Victimisation drama.Recommend

  • Naya Pakistan

    Have you seen the mirror lately? Not much different is it. Will it teach a lesson to any in our banckcrupt and dishonest media, I doubt it, and that includes ET.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    When the standoff took place in Islamabad Express never cared what Police instructed.Recommend

  • Naseem

    Dignity in your lament. Our country has become the most dangerous place for your profession,that should bring solidarity not “I am all right Jack” attitude.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    never had the guts to publish my comment knew it you circus ownersRecommend

  • Parvez

    The way I look it this is that Express Tribune must be doing something very right for you to be singled out and warned…………..so well done and stay strong.
    The pen was and is mighter than the sword……….. I should be the last to remind you of this.
    Recommend

  • gp65

    It maybe accurate to say that no electronic media covered the story. But to say that no-one cared is clearly inaccurate as shown by this story published in ET itself http://tribune.com.pk/story/591398/condemnation-journalists-community-outraged/

    Anyway, stay safe.Recommend

  • Sane

    There exist no Journalist Brotherhood. Channels are basically at war to undermine each other. I sympathize Express on this terrible incident and expect that concerned quarters shall take due measures ensuring such incidents do not occur at any of the media house.Recommend

  • Bilal

    Ever heard of “investigative journalism”? Instead of whining about other media house’s apathy (Express is no different by the way), why don’t you guys do some research and run a story on WHO did it?

    Truth is that you are all scared of either “The one who must not be named” in Karachi or the mullahs. Show some courage and be a role model for others. Recommend

  • Deendayal M.Lulla

    Journalists in Pakistan should unite and find out who was behind the attack – it will be truly investigative journalism. The author is right in telling that nobody bothered.Recommend