Biased media: We are all to blame

Published: January 18, 2011
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News channels are unfair to tell just one side of the story.

People tend to believe everything they see on TV. In Pakistan, this means that they only believe one side of the story. News channels in Pakistan often resort to selective censorship, preventing opposing views to be heard.

Right vs left

Over the past month a majority of the media has behaved recklessly and has given up on presenting both sides of the story. By and large most news groups in Pakistan push a right-wing agenda while a small sub-section promotes the liberal agenda.  Just as right-wing channels refuse to present the other side of the story, liberal media will not showcase the right wing point of view.

One-sided agendas

It was irresponsible of various media groups to make up the story that the late Salmaan Taseer and his daughter were pro-Ahmadi. Some channels managed to interview Mumtaz Qadri (murderer of Salmaan Taseer) but did not care to show the Taseer family’s point of view. It is a shame that most of these channels did not condemn the murder and refused to address the late governor as shaheed. These channels might as well start running infomercials promoting hatred, pro- blasphemy laws and action against minorities in Pakistan.

Here come the liberals

I think the liberal media is justified in suppressing conservative opinions; after all, isn’t the conservative media doing the exact same thing? We are already seeing too much hatred on TV; balanced reporting is impossible because if everyone started reporting in a balanced manner then no one would want to watch the news as some other channel would give people the news they want to see.

People need to take responsibility, too

It is not just the media that needs to change. When people stop watching ridiculously biased news channels and declare ‘enough is enough’, the channels will know that they will have to be more balanced.

If both conservative and liberal channels objectively come up with views and news from both sides then censorship would be unwarranted. The probability of this happening is one in a billion because I don’t think people who subscribe to the liberal media’s point of view would ever endorse the views of the conservative media. They are aware of what is being promoted on the liberal channels, but would never care to hear their point of view. The same applies to the conservative media.

Pakistanis are so polarised now that they would never subscribe to each other’s point of view. Objective journalism in Pakistan is a myth, because it is now more a matter of whose version you believe.

Shoaib Taimur

Shoaib Taimur

An IT graduate from Middlesex University who has been blogging for the past 7 years. He is a big fan of tennis, house music and Bjork.

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

  • Ismail

    Our media is doing good job, this post is useless.Recommend

  • murassa sanaullah

    our print media was always biased ,it never did any thing constructive, nonly complaing about censorship, now the media in t. v,is doing the same thing propagating thier own thoughts and ideas, most of the channels only love to sell news, they invite all the failures who only sits with litlle inform anchors and give unconstructive critisism. why doesn’t our media show what the world is thinking about us,our media has become schizophronic thinking the whole world is against pakistan even in sports also ,the media misguide the peole,.Recommend

  • omar bin abdulaziz

    Shoaib Taimur, you have wasted your time.

    All these years, and even now, the media has only acted liberal. What do you think all those dance shows and films (in the name of culture), and those drama serials, whose only topic is love between the youth, are??? They are definitely not Islamic nor they represent the opinions of the rightists.

    But this one incident happens and you start ranting anti-rightist views. Why don’t I see any rightist views in Daily Times or Dawn or your paper for that matter.

    Keep in mind that a majority of the population is rightist minded. They might have voted for liberal forces but the certainly remain Muslims.

    As for Salman Taseer, he is not a shaheed. I condemn his murder, but he certainly was reckless with his statements.Recommend

  • http://pk.linkedin.com/in/babarjaved Babar Khan Javed

    Wow everyone above me is convinced this post was a waste of time, which means you all fall into the category of people who can’t stand another persons opinion. You’re the category of people who told Nikola Tesla that his idea’s were worthless just b/c
    a. you didn’t think of it 1st
    b. it goes against what you know to be true.

    There is no ‘wrong’ in opinions. Why not be grown ups for once and Consider his opinion then comment on it like civilized human beings? or his asking Pakistani’s to be civilized, asking for too much? Mr. Taimur is one of the Managing Partners at one of Pakistan’s most progressive digital agency’s so excuse me sir if I think you can’t think further ahead than your bubble of ignorance and self loathing.

    Shame on You.

    Now I speak to the author. I believe that the consumer (or in this case the reader/viewer) is to blame. They watch the programs that are biased, thus giving them high ratings. Chicken or the egg? I say blame the customer, he/she has to take a stand and ask his/her cable operator to disable that network till such time they feel they’ve adjusted their reporting format.Recommend

  • Tamoor Azhar

    ya i m agrree with ur some points our main stream media is defocus in our national intrsest and also lack of research work. some media anchors raised a point just for bargaining but not for solutions.secondly some of them also have a research work and doing a good job.Recommend

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

    It is very often that media makes great stories on supposition after some incident has occurred. Like a news channel declared a girl’s rape by her boy friends as a gang rape. Media creates false news and also exaggerates..Recommend

  • Meera Ghani

    While I agree with whats being said in this article. I also feel that in Pakistan it is very difficult to have unbiased media, because there is no professionalism anyone can get up and become an anchor or a reporter. There is no accountability and no one is held responsible for what they say on air.

    Our news channels don’t report the news as it happens rather present their opinions on whats happened- that’s not journalism and that’s certainly not reporting. Also, I feel the media boom hit Pakistan at a very wrong time.

    Having lots of channels airing their versions of the truth would work in a country where freedom of speech is taken seriously and is not misused. It doesn’t work in countries where people can not be critical of what they are being told and cant not come to make informed opinions.

    The only question I’d like to ask the author is “why does he think being pro-ahmedi is a bad thing”????. One may not agree with their ideology or faith but that doesn’t mean one cant speak for their rights to worship as they please in a country that is meant to be democratic. Recommend

  • http://enterakt.com shobz

    @Meera: I am afraid you misunderstood my statement. I am referring to news channels who have been coming with stories trying to paint the Late Salman Taseer in a negative light. I have nothing against Ahmadis. If my statement may have not come across in a proper light I apologize for the misunderstanding. I do believe they have the full right of worship in this country as the rest of us along with minorities. Recommend

  • Salik Sultan

    Agreed!Recommend

  • parvez

    I thought you covered the subject pretty well. There are now so many yak-yak shows on TV that I for one have stopped watching. It’s only rarely that a good talk show is nicely hosted and at the end one feels that a balanced discourse has taken place and this happens more because of the quality of the guests and less because of the host. Recommend

  • http://deleted Sabeen Masood

    i really do not think that the media is biased. every talk show that i have watched regarding this topic has responsibly tried to cover both sides of the story, they have summoned liberals, intellectuals, law makers and religious leaders. I think you are a fan of salman taseer thats why you want media to mourn, cry, call him shaheed, console with his family and everthing. However, i think media has always talked about salman taseer with great respect. But it is sad and almost shameful that none of you have noticed that most of the “liberals” (this is what you call yourself these days) do not show proper respect while discussing my beloved Prophet (SAW). No doubt we are living in the very world of modern people which is mentioned in many Hadiths.Recommend

  • http://enterakt.com shobz

    @Sabeen: It is not about being a fan of the late ST. I blame the tv channels for whipping up hysteria on air and for not showing both sides of the argument. He was murdered for no reason for opposing a flawed law which can be exploited. He did not blaspheme against our Holy Prophet PBUH. All he said was that the Blasphemy law is a black law. Condemning the black Law and Blasphemy against our Holy Prophet PBUH are not the same thing. If our media had been a bit more responsible he would have been alive today. By showing the interview of his murderer they are only glorifying his murder and making the villain look like the hero. Maybe some of the sections of the media have spoken about him with respect but the majority has not. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    What a subjective little rant!

    Being a shaheed requires honor, not controversy.Recommend

  • http://www.pakmediablog.com Ahmar

    @Saad Durrani:
    He died standing up for what he believed in, thats something worth dying for.

    Good article Mr. Taymur, it got me thinking about my viewsRecommend

  • Maha

    I completely agree with the author. Either we see left wing talking about some sort of liberal movement coming out every now and then.That’s include this newspaper as well. On the other hand, right wing media was glorifying the murderer. So what’s missing? Moderation!Recommend

  • Alnoor

    I would agree with writer’s opinion here. I think most of our Urdu channels including the big ones prevailing more and more of a mulla thoughts. Every host claim to represent 120 million people and many times behave very unprofessionally to guests who doesn’t share their point of views. In addition to this, I think we are missing alternate entertaining media quite badly. Since news channels have hijacked the main leisure time periods, our artists aren’t getting the fair share of viewership and art and cultural affairs aren’t growing. The whole nation isn’t require to do PHD in our politics. You can only be stressed after watching our talk shows. Even our comics are based on politics. I know many people share my frustration with the media but I don’t have any answer on how can we fix it. Unfortunately there is no quick fix. People are quite sentimental and like to listen to people with emotional appeal. Even calling yourself liberal is like a crime in Pakistan. I don’t know how come we got leader like Jinnah and how he became acceptable to people of that time with. Probably that generation was more liberal in fact it was until Zia’s time. Recommend

  • http://deleted Sabeen Masood

    @shobz: i watched a talk show in which every invited religious scholar, and there were 4 or 5 of them, clearly declared that whatever the assassin has done it is against the law so he should be punished so, kindly explain who is not showing respect to salman taseer and honoring the assassin? If a common men would have killed ( like many were killed when he was alive) i am sure he would not have bother to even comment on it.Recommend

  • Sanya Shiraz

    I cannot agree more with the author.

    Although I have always been in support for the freedom of the media, it disappoints me to see the media taking such a biased view when it comes to controversial matters. They need to be reminded that their job is to “Deliver the truth, unchanged”, instead they just show what they think is appropriate and omit the rest.

    Of course everyone has the right to an opinion, but there’s a fine line between giving out opinions freely or asking leading questions on their shows, and delivering the news UNBIASEDLY. Recommend

  • Usman Ahmad

    ‘I think the liberal media is justified in suppressing conservative opinions’…Liberals and conservatives are alike in their approach in Pakistan. Common man is caught between these two extremes. Recommend