Masala news: How the government benefits

Published: November 26, 2010

Does the news agenda dictate the government's plans

I feel sorry for us, the audience, when we are ‘forced’ to hear utterly bad news and exaggerated facts. Almost all important news events are covered with great fervor but only for a limited time – one can hardly see any news covered to its logical end.

This behaviour is quite similar to the government technique of forming committees to divert people’s attention from a burning issue, but people have now become well aware that constituting committees is tantamount to negligence and putting things on the back burner on the government’s part.

Starved for bad news

We have almost accepted that being threatened and depressed is our fate, especially if we want to stay informed. This information sharing is making us desensitised towards matters relating to society. Everybody seems to be concerned only about themselves. Why is this happening? The reason is simple: whether it is news about a person begging for justice or people being brutally tortured by the police, viewers know that the media will give it coverage for a day but then a new day will come with fresh, agonising news. It’s a viciously fickle news cycle.

Breaking news amnesia

Just as the media moves on so it seems do the government committees that have been created to resolve various issues that relate to human rights, legal, political and social chaos in our society. News stories like the lynching of two brothers in Sialkot and the torture of a little girl by a Lahore based lawyer are too quickly forgotten by both journalists who report them and the bodies established who are supposed to investigate them.

Who benefits?

Undoubtedly, it is the government that wins out. Just as the committees cannot solve anything, this convenient approach to media coverage cannot hold the government accountable.

So the dreadful silence prevails, as the flow of new but inevitably ugly news goes on, people continue to face a sense of hopelessness.

Nauman Lodhi

Nauman Lodhi

Nauman Lodhi is an amateur writer and business professional. His work has been published in various credible newspapers including Harvard Business School Working Knowledge and [email protected]

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

  • Ali Hassan

    Very true, new day new problem, this works well for the authorities. Media goes with the shelf life of the story, for them its just a “story”.

    But we suffer, e.g. for the Sialkot incident, I could not not sleep properly for 2 weeks, I just saw 1 second of video (and still haven’t watched more than that), I cried that day, smoked 2 packs of cigarettes and still feel that pain (really wish they get justice, they were innocent).

    But then new stories take over old stories and crisis after crisis after crisis, nothing gets resolved.Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    ha ha ha. Good observation. Good piece.Recommend

  • http://www.pakspectator.com Sana Saleem

    Correct ! I have been thinking about it fora long time.

    What happened to plane crash in Islamabad? What did the black box tell it?

    What happened to the murderers of the Two innocent brothers in Sialkot? Were they innocent or did they commit any crime?

    Who was responsible for the CIA Building Bomb attack in Karachi?

    There are a lot of questions like this ! We want to know the answers but neither the Government is taking any action nor the media is telling us ….Recommend

  • mirza

    You say “information sharing” makes us de-sensitized towards “matter relating to society”. Yet you go on to say that fickle coverage of an event should be avoided as well. It is the constant hammering on about a subject that makes one de-sensitized to a certain subject. There is an inherent contradiction in the basis of your argument. One on hand you want “the media” to follow a story to its logical end, but on the other hand you think too much news de-sensitizes the public. Which one is it? Following a story to its so-called “logical end” (don’t know how you would even define this ‘end’) is bound to de-sensitize viewers/readers along the way. Or will it? <– This is the question you should explore to avoid falling victim to your own paradoxical foundation.

    As far as the sialkot story goes, it was more like a couple weeks of constant/sensational coverage, and that is what de-sensitizes people. You seem to be confusing the public’s role in responding to media coverage and what the media’s role is in pressuring the government. You also make sweeping generalizations about how you think the public reacts to news coverage. A little bit of research and clear thinking could help to guide this post in the right direction. At the moment it is self-contradictory and wildly speculatory.Recommend

  • mirza

    Also, I’d like to add, there is always a complaint of a lack of following a story to its end. But a lot of people miss the stories that lie between the front page, op-ed page, and the back page. You will find a lot of these stories in there. Sometimes you, the public, have to make the effort to find the story. Recommend

  • parvez

    You have made a good point and I agree with @Mirza’s comment.
    This is something for the editors of leading papers to figure out how to clearly connect the follow up story to the main story of a few weeks or months ago. This would give credibility and certainly increase interest in the paper.
    Simple logic is : a story with an ending is better than one left hanging in the air.Recommend