Meher-Mubashir: Time to re-visit ethics

Published: June 15, 2012
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It is high time to get "ethical." Professionalism must not be compromised in the name of commercialisation. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

Whether it is the Maya Khan episode or Shaheen Sehbai’s interview on YouTube, journalists have managed to hog all the attention for themselves and have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now, we have the Meher-Lucman video which is trending on Twitter, and is being passed around on multiple social media forums.

Yesterday, a video, titled ‘Malik Riaz Planted Interview with Mehar Bukhari and Mubashir Lucman on Dunya’ was uploaded by a user named ‘ivestigativereporter’. This jolted many people who watched in shock as the interview between Meher Bokhari, Mubashir Lucman and Malik Riaz seemed entirely scripted.

It all started with the promotional tickers and promos for the exclusive interview with the real estate tycoon, Malik Riaz, the man who is at the very centre of the high profile controversy involving the son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

It was certainly a big deal for any anchor to get an interview with Malik Riaz as his case is the center of all media attention at the moment.

However, what transpired in the behind-the-scenes video was shameful for the entire journalist community. On watching it, the following questions immediately jumped to my mind:

 How come the hosts became bigger news than the guest himself ?

Did either of the two resist or refuse to interview him in a “scripted” manner?

Who exactly leaked this video and was it an in-house job for publicity?

Whatever conversation took place between the three, Lucman, Bokhari and Riaz, and whatever was heard in the video during the “break” requires serious explanation from the two anchors. I am not concerned in the least about Malik Riaz after the video.

I don’t know whether any TV channel took their views in to account or not, but I believe that it should have been done.

Dunya News and the two anchors have managed to get a huge amount of publicity; unfortunately, this has all come from all the wrong reasons. It is sad that today, unethical journalism is getting more hits on social media forums than ethical journalism is.

What we saw may go down in the history of journalism as a glittering case of non-professionalism and unethical journalism.

Given all of this, the question now arises about ‘trust’. With the increasing involvement of powerful political players how can we trust anything that is on air anymore?

This also raises a bigger question of who approached Malik Riaz for an interview in the first place? Was it Mubashir or Meher?

There is little doubt in the mind of journalists after watching the interview and its aftermath that it was planned. But the question is why and who authorised it? Was it one of the three people mentioned above who took the initiative on their own, or were they ordered by some “high ups” from outside?

What will happen next is something that we are all looking forward to seeing. Will this controversy be replaced by another controversy or will it change the course of ethical journalism?

This leak has, without a doubt, damaged the credibility of the anchors that our youth looked up to for being liberal and fearless. It has reduced the value of talk shows that generate so much debate amongst our most literate rung of society.

The two-judge bench while giving the judgment on the Riaz-Arsalan case have raised serious questions of ethical journalism, and that too from the conduct of some of the big names in journalism. In fact, the Supreme Court has summoned the footage and the script for this interview.

Indeed a humiliating day for journalists all over Pakistan.

What happened in Lucman-Meher video brought to my mind the key principle from the Founding fathers of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in 1950:

The acceptance of bribe is the gravest crime for a journalist.

The basic code for journalists embraces the very value of journalism i.e. to provide information with honesty whatever the mode of dissemination. What happened in the last few days with journalists in general, and in the Meher-Mubashir case in particular has raised serious ethical questions.

It has been accepted as the basic code for journalists that plagiarism, malicious misrepresentation, slander, libel, unfounded accusations, and corrupt practices such as “acceptance of bribes,” in any form are considered to be grave professional offences.

Unfortunately, the level of corruption within the media has increased over the years so much so that redemption seems almost impossible. At times we even look for excuses to defend such practices. The reasons are many, such as poor working conditions, irregular jobs and no criterion in selection.

However, does this justify hiding the truth?

Does it make it okay for these public servants to distort the truth for their personal gains?

I believe the answer is no.

It is high time to get “ethical.” Professionalism must not be compromised in the name of commercialisation.

Read more by Mazhar here.

Do you believe that Meher Bokhari's and Mubashir Lucman's interview with Malik Riaz was scripted?

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Mazhar Abbas

Mazhar Abbas

The writer is director, current affairs, Express News and has previously worked with ARY News. He is a former secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

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

  • maria tameez

    I condemn this shameful act in strict words! May Allah bless our country!Recommend

  • maria tameez

    I condemn this shameful act in strict words! May Allah bless our countryRecommend

  • Ajaz Raja

    I think Mubashir Luqman is responsible to expose Mehar & Abdul Qadir GilaniRecommend

  • lifafa

    Benazir Bhutto coined the term “Lifafa Journalists” more than 20 years ago. Back then, lifafa journalists hired by this or that party, agency, or organization were paid to savage opponents and praise paymasters. Same is going on today. Now the shift is towards electronic media and anchors.

    How else can a journalist residing previously in a 5-marla house in Lalukhayt go on to buy a 2000 sq yard house in Islamabad or a house in Dubai? Certainly not on their salary.

    It is shocking to see that some people claim to be shocked! Were you born today? Or are you simple village bumpkins? Everything is scripted and fake (hot arguments) like the wrestling matches in USA. Media is a business and the people there are in it to make money. Wake up people.Recommend

  • Tayyab

    So what ? Anchors talk to the guests during the break. This man can buy everything in world including the justice. This seems to be an in-house job to turn away the anger of masses from Malik Riaz. This man was able to fool all Pakistanis yet again. Now everyone is talking about TV Anchors and no one is talking about Malik Riaz.
    Wake up Pakistanis Recommend

  • Ordinary Villager

    In that video we saw a Phone Call from Abdul Qadir Jailani who is a Son of a Prime Minister. Then we saw that Maryam Nawaz Contacted Riaz Malik to lie about the car gifted by Riaz Malik. And the most interesting point is that Owner of Dunya News is in PTI and is a senior member and advisor of Imran Khan. So i think in Pakistan everyone is corrupt Recommend

  • vaqas

    Dear mazhar abbass: i am a youth of this country. And let me assure you i have never been under any illusion of impartiality or high morals from our television media in general and geo news in particular. The fact is if you just realized the filth widespread in your media then you are more naive than the youth of this country. So God bless this country and lets all open our eyes to the widespread hunger illiteracy and lack of healthcare in this country, instead of going astray with our media people on non issues that they highlight for vested interests.Recommend

  • Ali

    Shame on these Anchors…A line of Shahzad roy song passes my mind and i think summaries our whole society….”yahan naik wohi hai jisko muqa nahi mila” sad bt true.Recommend

  • nadeem khan

    Mr Mazhar Abbas…..you will also be revealed and exposed like Luqman and Mehr…….u just need some more time……just wait for the other Khans and Mirs of the corrupt journalism….along with corrupt military, politics, religious leaders and now corrupt and powerhungry judiciary…. Recommend

  • Amina

    What about urself mazher ???? Ur name is also coming among those beneficiaries ,who have taken favors in the form of property by this contractor riaz….. I can’t trust anybody in this media ….u guys were last hope for poor nation and after seeing this real face of media …..I don’t know what to write … Shame shame shameRecommend

  • Multan

    I condemn this shameful act in strict words! May Allah bless our country!!!!Recommend

  • duh

    ohh ok captain obvious we dint already know that Recommend

  • Faizaan

    What happened on behind the scenes, scene is an exact reflection of the characterless journalist community that was instrumental in departure of President Musharraf thus pushing the country atleast 10 years behind.

    This characterless, opportunistic journalist mafia whose past has emerged from the down town and semi urban streets of karachi (nothing wrong with it), but in few years time own properties in the most posh areas of Pakistan is the reflection of their honesty and yellow journalism they have practicesd .

    Musharruf”s stance and action seems to have proven right whether its about journalist or about taking the action of sending the reference for hearing and justice (was it done?)

    Nation misses you President Musharruf!Recommend

  • Ahmad

    “This leak has, without a doubt, damaged the credibility of the anchors that our youth looked up to for being liberal and fearless.”

    Meher Bukhari painted a target on the back of Salman Taseer’s head with THAT interview and Mubashir Luqman stated that the CJ is liable to be killed after May 20, 2007. These are the people you call liberal and fearless?Recommend

  • Abid

    Some anchors have this illusion of being Gods. NauzubillahRecommend

  • Kanwal

    I wish to see Meher bukhari in court for doing all the damage she has done so far in her career. That damage includes contribution to the murder of Salman Taseer too. Recommend

  • Ali

    Noam Chomsky, one of the most respected political analyst and activist, in his book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media analysed media’s role in democratic societies in shaping opinions and perception of public- in the interest of influential corporations and political parties. We have to realise Media groups are NOT non profit social service organisations. Media Groups are businesses, and at the end of the day all that matters are profits. That is why and how they exist. And therefore they will protect interests of those who bring in the most profits – and in their case these are the large corporations, political parties with big pockets and secret agencies – both local and foreign – distributing their funds.

    Not a single channel or newspaper is sincere to Pakistanis. Media is a business. Recommend

  • Ali

    Mr Mazhar Abbas. With all un due respect your also in that list of journalists. Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    Lawyers, Aitezaz Ahsan, Media , Arsalan Iftekhar…
    Musharraf Proven right. Recommend

  • Taimoor

    @Ali: No respect for these corrupt people!Recommend

  • ratta

    These tv anchors were trying to be the reformer, they used to criticise others as if they are angels, now they are exposed. In this ‘Pak Sarzamin’ everything is controversial, from the founding father to chief justice.Recommend

  • mariam ashraf

    Life comes full circle. What goes around comes around and when being rude and aggressive passes for hard hitting journalism all you are left with is smokey eyes and managed fashion statements. The ability to speak English fluently does not make an anchor.Recommend

  • riaz

    these black sheeps always try to overcome at principlesRecommend

  • Ali

    The sad part is now I am realizing how media and corrupt politicians formed an alliance with CJ and kicked Musharraf out. Media is the biggest mafiaRecommend

  • Ben

    If the attack against the judiciary was funded by the potential beneficiary of the demise of this institution, you don’t need to be a genius to figure out who is funding the campaign against the armed forces and the intelligence agencies. Read more at: http://passivevoices.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/for-sale-pakistans-media-anchors/Recommend

  • Magnanimity

    After this episode ,I started thinking that It’s means Zaid Hamid’s claims(These anchors teach us the Indian or Secular version of Our history in return of the money from india/foreigners ) against our so called “Angelic media” were right.
    Recommend

  • Silent Observer

    Why I am not surprised to see the blog of the writer who is the brother of DG ISPR Col. Ather Abbas….!!!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/groups/jaagpakistanijaag Ali Taj
  • Confused

    Give or take a few years or months and these anchors will come back to watching the shows. Remember the Aamir Liaquat thing that happened? They can easily play a victim card or some other excuse and everything gets dissolved. In fact, all it did is bring even more unaware public to watch the debacle.
    I agree there should be ethical guidelines, but they won’t matter if nobody wants to follow them. It takes guts and personal integrity, and sacrificing a lot of glamour and easy way outs which not a lot of people can manage. No business is going to implement these rules if it is damaging to them, unless it is not a business but a like minded community of journalists!
    For starters, a better thing to do is to not keep highlighting the same story all the time, but instead bring to light why this happens. Why do people plant this out? Given the audience is not sincere either since they want more drama than unadulteration, why not give them what they want instead of fighting for some unrewarding goal?Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Very nice of you to post this article Mr. Mazhar Abbas. Could you also post something about the fact that your brother is the head of the armed forced information bureau and the rest are in powerful media positions? Conflict of interest?

    Oh and by the way:

    http://www.aaj.tv/2012/06/a-list-of-19-journalists-allegedly-bribed-by-malik-riaz/

    You are not fooling anyone.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    Mubashir was PTI propaganda machine so good riddance. Recently a PPP MPA took mubashir on for his shadowy dealings on his own show, I knew the guy had skeltons to hide in closet.Recommend

  • http://Karachi ashar

    You are one of them who have recieved bounties from MR, dont try to absolve yourself. Recommend

  • Maryam

    Dear Anchors, first look at yourselves before throwing mud at others.A humble adviceRecommend

  • Raja Kiani

    Before you do some thing you need preparation, same is what Mehar and Luqman were doing, its not an unusual thing tht if guest request anchor about what he wanted to be asked… every body is making an issue of behind camera but no bddy is paying attention on the harsh and stiffed questions that the anchors have asked…. Pakistan have other more serious issues to talk on… move forward. Recommend

  • Faisal

    Supreme Court Announce the 07 to 08 judges panel against all the anchors like Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir, Kahsif, Dr. Danish, Jasmeen, Mahar Bukhari, Lucman, etc… we must try to find balck sheeps may be they also take money from India, Afghanistan, America, UK etc to Detroit the situation in Pakistan… I appeal to SC plz take a step Recommend

  • vaqas

    @Faisal: poor faisal thinks our judiciary is not corrupt. God bless you child. May you have many more years of blissful ignorance.Recommend

  • Shuja ud Daula Butt

    Mubasher Lucman has done many informative programmes even sometimes with incomplete information, I maybe able to forgive him if he says mea culpa and promises to come clean,
    Meher Bokhari on the other hand hurls accusations without studying thoroughly the subject,or doing enough research accuses anybody and everybody to score points.

    It is unfortunate for public to have so many uninformed journalists informing even less informed sceptical public,Now I don’t who to trust and what to believe.

    Malik Riaz is doing some social good but he still does not have the right implement his agenda his interests over collective interests of the country,
    Now I distrust him and question his social work is only for the show,optics Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    @mariam ashraf:

    “…… The ability to speak English fluently does not make an anchor.”

    .

    Paki anchor speaking English fluently, who is that?Recommend

  • Zalim Singh

    Pakistani anchors- bah.Recommend

  • nasr

    No wonder, we are a nation of hypocrates. We are running this country through exceptions. Its only heartening to know that exceptions could be as large as 20%. There is no visionary with us nor a leader to give this nation a goal or a vision. A great dilemma for our future generations.Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    @jr:

    @ Mr jr, I heard everything you said. Understand very well your condition, like you, I too have spent my life learning Kamchatkese. Others may refer to this source for help.
    .
    Link to Kamchatkese Encyclopaedia

    .

    (Hoping not to be edited away, I will buy you a beer).Recommend

  • http://msm sunny

    What about Hamid meer who also taking bribe from Malik Riaz???? In which channel flesh this scam first whether its GEO or DUNY news.Kamrran Khan & Hamid Meer was the first anchor who denounced this news to their channel .Then why CJ take action against them and we have also seen these days Geo cunning attitude where they are launch a campaigning against the duny news just for the TRB.

    Have Hamid/Kamrran venture to ask to their owner that why your father handover a conclave dossier to the INDIAN army in 1971 war. I am not exaggerating it this is a reality if any one skeptical for it and have any kind of influence in PAK ARMY asks them whether it was only hunch or reality.Recommend

  • MK

    @Mehr. . .You now will start Morning shows bt remember it must be PLANTED ……..Recommend

  • Nadeem Iqbal

    I dont know why Mehr bukhari is involve in negitive deeds, Media should throw out these dirty people. On tv shows she behaves like an intellectual but actually a dirty bitch who can do any thing for money. hey blody bitch wake up this is our dear homeland dont sell it for money.Recommend

  • Sane

    Luqman & Mehar both must be prosecuted and ‘extortion’ money must be recovered and deposited in treasury for the President.Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    @Sane:

    “Luqman & Mehar both must be prosecuted and ‘extortion’ money must be recovered and deposited in treasury for the President.”
    .

    What Sanity are we talking about? Is there any evidence to prove that these journalists or the aulaad of Iftikhar Chowdhry, extorted money from the Property Shark? Till now there is nothing but hearsay, which is not enough.
    .
    In the money-making vocabulary, word “morality” does not exist. Recommend

  • http://msm sunny

    Geo has done the same drill at last RAMADAN what they have done with Mehar Bukari & Mubarsher Lucman our nation have very short memory. this finesse channel and their management try to malign Dr, Aamir Liquat at last RAMADAN where geo channel launch off camera discussion clipping into social media just because of that Aamir liaquat has switch their job at geo TV and he commencing their program to other channel name ARY with the conducive of ALLAH his program much successfully then geo RAMADAN transmission and this furious GEO done this filth act.

    Geo TV always believe character assassination and its premeditate gait they stigmatize to others people without having substantial evidence and our judiciary didn’t action against them may be this is reciprocate act from CJ side BECAUSE geo TV telecast his movement live at their channel during his suspention?????.If our judiciary thinks that mehar/mubarshar program was planted and they must face the court then what about the hamid meer and kamrran khan who present this scam first to their channel which CJ son does. WE STILL WAITING CJ DECISION ABOUT HIS SON BRIBE CASE AND CJ ALSO TELL TO THE NATION THAT WHAT KIND OF ENCHANT STRICK HIS SON HAD BECAUSE A JOB SEEKER TURN INTO MILLIONAIRE THIS VERY SURPRIZING FOR US COULD CJ PROCLAIM IT ??????????Recommend

  • Syed Mazhar

    Who is shocked?

    The recent episode of Maher/Luqman may be shocking to un or ill informed community of our nation. Alas majority of the nation falls in this category. Since electronic media has gained super power like position in the society, it has attracted many who wants both fame and money. Unfortunately they are welcomed by the owners may be on the basis of “Parchi” or on the basis of most powerful “Parchi”. The media has fallen in to the hands of anchors who feel pride in insulting others at least in front of camera and in our society “jo dikhta hay woh bikta hay”. Very few tries to look on the other side of the screen where they eat, drink and even sleep together with those to whom they insult in front on their audience.

    Maher Bokhari and Mubashir Luqman are the first two to be unveiled there are many more to be un covered. Most of them are those who pretends to be patriotic Pakistani and very strong believer of Islam. They are real monafiqs. I do not want to name any but now people know them, they see their faces and switches the channels as they know what they would be saying, which party/person they would be targeting. They rarely find anything wrong in PMLN and they have made judges innocent holy personalities. Justic Chowdry is silent over the questions asked by Malik Riaz, at least one question he should answer immediately that whether his son Arsalan was present during his meetings with Malik Riaz or not. If his answer is yes, than why a detailed investigation is required in Arsalan matter he has submitted affidavit that he has never met Malik Riaz. If CJ knows that this affidavit is not true he could punish the culprit instantly but he would not do it. The question may arise “why?” because he is not an angle. He is also a common like like we all are. He can not punish his son, his son who was an ordinary boy just 03/04 years back and he is now a billionaire. Give me at least one example that a man with no money has become a billionaire in the last 3/4 years Pakistani economy situation.
    I am sorry, I know most of you may dis-agree but if you ask me to point out two of the worst enemies of Pakistan today, without wasting a second I would reply number one Cheap Justice Iftikhar Chowdhary and number two Pakistani Media in its current shape and style.
    Syed Mazhar, Karachi Recommend

  • Yaqeen

    Thank God. None of these three is a Pukhtoon. It would have been extremely difficult for him to prove his loyalty.Recommend

  • Sane

    @Syed Mazhar
    By reading your long speech, my perception is:
    1. You are trying to divert others from the main issue.
    2. Despite CJP himslf took a suo moto, you are purposely maligning him.
    3. You want to justify acts of Mehar, Luqman & Malik Riaz saying since everyone is corrupt. Therefore, no harm if they are also.Recommend

  • Sane

    @sunny
    Amir Liaquat posing like a religious scholar must he ashamed. The video released was genuine one. Look his attire now a days, wearing like an scholar and talking about Islam and teachings of holy Qur’an. From where he got qualified to talk about. Does religion is the only subject that does not require any qualification and every tom, dick and harry can give sermons without any knowledge.Recommend

  • Abid P Khan

    @Sane:

    “….From where he got qualified to talk about…..”
    .
    I believe you are on very thin ice. Looking back at history, you won’t find any university qualified person declaring his Prophethood. Yet they managed to have huge number of followers. Not to talk of, inability to read and write.
    .Recommend

  • Naveed

    Mehir Bukhari & Mubasshar Luqman must leave Pakistan.Recommend

  • Iftikhar

    Black sheeps from media should be exposed and kicked out from the media and must be punished. I strongly believe that Chief Justice Improve the bad image of Pakistan and tried his best to bring uniform justice for all.Recommend

  • politically incorrect

    Media today, is a business just like any other.People can whine ad infinitum,but in business the only ethics that guides all actions is the bottom line i.e. profit.In a materialistic society it is a little ingenious to expect the media to be anything but a money making machine.Recommend