Stories about mainstream media

Did the biased media coverage of the US elections ensure Trump’s victory?

On April 6, 1994, a missile shot down an airplane carrying Hutu leaders Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprian Ntayamira in Rwanda, unleashing the ethnic majority Hutus against the minority Tutsis on a campaign of mass murder. As the atrocity spread, the world debated the nuances of the word ‘genocide’. Three months and at least half a million deaths later proved that, yes, it was genocide. Semantics matter. During the 2016 US election, mainstream media’s refusal to correctly identify bigotry, while perhaps not as egregious as mislabelling ethnic cleansing, has contributed to Donald Trump’s victory. Semantics matter. Trump’s detractors, and count me ...

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No Air China, your racist advice was not needed

Pak-China relations have always been formidable mainly because China is Pakistan’s closest ally and staunch business partner in large-scale infrastructure projects like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The two countries often express loud protestations about their eternal friendship and cooperation in light of India’s anti-Pakistan aggression and sentiment. So it would seem the overtly favourable sentiment expressed by the diplomats of both countries would be mirrored by the inhabitants of China.  However, this wasn’t the case when a seemingly innocuous statement mentioned in Air China’s in-flight magazine offered travel advice about living in London. The statement was splashed over social media for all the wrong ...

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Do you know what ghag is?

For the Pakhtun people, the unwritten ethical code of Pashtunwali, dating to the pre-Islamic era, is as central to their lives as Islam. This can leave the Pakhtun people torn between religion and the culture of their people. One of the more deplorable ways in which this cultural-religious disconnect manifests is through the centuries old custom of ghag. Ghag, which roughly translates as ‘avaaz lagana’ or ‘to make something known’, is when a man announces his intention to marry a particular woman. The announcement can be done in many ways. Often a messenger is sent to the house of the ...

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India has failed Kashmir, again

The Kashmir situation highlights the limit of Indian democracy and the paranoia of its leadership. It shows how blind nationalism, uninformed by historical knowledge, can damage the cause of democracy and expose the vulnerability of the Indian state. As a result, the bleeding valley exposes not only the suffering of the Kashmiri people; but also the malaise that affects the biggest democracy in South Asia. How can we explain peoples’ anger over Indian security personnel killing the Hizbul Mujahideen leader, Burhan Wani? There is no doubt that the path the young Wani chose would have culminated in a violent death. But how does one explain his popularity among ...

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Will Pakistan dance to Dance Kahani’s beat?

I remember the hype that Step Up (2006) brought with it when it was first released. For dance lovers and enthusiasts, this was a fresh wave of cinematic representation where new and unorthodox dancing styles were given centre-stage on mainstream media. Before this, the only hits this genre had managed to bring included musicals like Grease (1978) and Dirty Dancing (1987) or conventional dance movies like Save the Last Dance (2001) and Shall We Dance (2004). Of course, the Step Up trilogy further paved way for hits like Magic Mike (2012) and Black Swan (2010) which, though different in terms ...

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Why isn’t the #OregonStandoff being called terrorism? Because it’s not

Last year, when I wrote about the Chapel Hill murders of three Muslims for The Express Tribune Blogs, I revisited the definition of terrorism because the term is oft misused. Use of corrupted words relates to poor journalism and exhibit one is how the coverage of domestic controversy in the United States lacks rigid examination of facts, a fair analysis of both sides and proper context. This is not only unique to underground blogs, but endemic in mainstream media as well, where the focus excessively becomes about the race and religion of those involved. While identity is important, it’s as important to adhere to a standard of objectivity ...

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Dear (ir)responsible Pakistani media, the Mina tragedy needed sensitivity not sensationalism

The tragic stampede in Mina during the recent Hajj and the way it was covered by the media, mainstream as well as social, once again revealed all that is wrong in the way journalism is practiced in Pakistan. Media stirred the pot with the ingredients of sensationalism, conspiracy theories, misinformation, disinformation and deliberate biases. This was all based on a historical baggage, and the offering served was such a mish-mash that it became difficult to sift fact from fiction. Yes, it was a developing story. In fact, it was not just a ‘story’, but it was a tragic human event that demanded sensitive handling, ...

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Was it ‘unethical’ of Diana Magnay to call the Israelis ‘scum’?

Are reporters allowed to express normal human emotions like anger, jubilation, grief and hatred?  Are they being untrue to their profession if they do so? When is being overwhelmed by emotions forgivable? Recently, these questions resurfaced during the coverage of the on-going conflict in Gaza. The images emerging from there are horrific, if that word can define them properly. We have had journalists moving away from the camera because they felt too overwhelmed with grief. There are allegations of ‘biased and unbalanced’ coverage by the media, depending on which side of the divide you are. In the current context, as the ...

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