Media matters

Published: January 15, 2012

For the past few days, headlines have been dominated by speculation regarding whether Mansoor Ijaz will come, or not come, to Pakistan to testify.

It seems all that the media can seem to cover is the so-called memogate case and issues related to it. For example, for the past two-three days headlines on news channels have been dominated by speculation regarding whether Mansoor Ijaz will come, or not come, to Pakistan to testify before the commission set up by the Supreme Court to investigate the authenticity of the memo.

Surely, there must be other issues for the media to cover. After all, one can argue that how does the issue of the memo affect the lives of ordinary Pakistanis who are finding it increasingly hard to put two square meals every day for themselves and their families?

Also, given the warped spending priorities in this country, where expenditure on defence is around three to four times more than that on health and education, shouldn’t the media be giving coverage to issues related to the health and education sectors? How many prime-time talk shows are devoted to debates where participants discuss the need for a diversion of allocation of resources away from making more weapons to more schools and hospitals?

Even when a news event which could be used to build up debate on this very important matter, that is not usually done. For example, last week, several newspapers, including this one, covered the results of a survey conducted by the Sindh government in collaboration with Unicef with some very worrying results. For instance, it found that the prevalence of malnourished children had not gone down over the past decade or so, despite the fact that this had been the case with most other countries of the region. It also revealed that a disturbingly large proportion of children and mothers in Sindh were “food insecure”, or did not have enough food to meet even the minimum requirements set down by the UN and the government for basic daily intake.

This story is one of many relevant ones that should have been given some coverage in the media, and should have been cause for some debate and discussion on our spending priorities as a nation. But thanks to memogate, and the surrounding brouhaha, that did not happen. And it is the people of Pakistan who are the worse off for that.

anum.fatima

Anum Fatima

Anum works as a sub-editor for The Express Tribune's editorial pages.

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

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