Media madness: Sometimes the show must not go on

Published: February 24, 2011

In a day and age where media is society’s most powerful watchdog, who or what will stop the show from running?

Veena Malik’s interviews on the Express News show ‘Frontline with Kamran Shahid’ remained a source of much debate last month – a classic case of sensationalisation.

The two episodes, however, are not the only examples of media’s – broadcast media in particular – irresponsible behaviour.

Here are some examples:

  • The suicide of the wife of Raymond Davis’ victim was surely disturbing, but there is no justification as to why her footage was shown on television while she battled for her life.
  • A while back, Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar was killed in Karachi and within an hour of his death, Geo News projected him as a martyr. Babar’s death was indeed a sad incident, but what really was unfortunate was the killing of 20 other people in Karachi the same day. None received the same amount of airtime or reverence by Geo News.
  • And who can forget the exchange of shocking statements between PML-N leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali, and MQM leaders Waseem Akhtar and Haider Abbas Rizvi. ARY News showed the entire dialogue, uncut, uncensored! Unwilling to compromise on ratings, almost every TV channel got hold of representatives of both the parties within hours of the incident, pitched them against each other and helped raise already soaring temperatures.
  • Interestingly, Veena Malik’s interview on Frontline was aired at the exact time 4,800 sacked employees of KESC were being reinstated. Apparently it was so important that the TV channel did not take a single break to go to Raja Pervaiz’ press conference, during which he made the announcement.
  • A girl who gathered the courage to file a case against her rapists was forced to go into hiding after the entire media made a mockery of her misery.
  • High resolution close-up footage of a woman whose head and eyebrows were shaved by her husband was run on television several times.
  • Similarly, images and footages of a minor girl, who was married to a 21-year-old, were also flashed on TV screens throughout.
  • Another video vividly showed a girl who was beaten by her employer.
  • And then, there was the footage of Salmaan Taseer’s body being taken in a police mobile.

These examples are enough to show that media, time and again, misuses its freedom of disseminating information.

As per my knowledge, the last thing that grabbed Pemra’s attention was the interviews of Taseer’s assassin, at the broadcast of which the authority fined two TV channels. Anything less than an interview of a person who kills the governor, does not seem worthy enough to be censored.

In a day and age where media is society’s most powerful watchdog, who or what will stop the show from going on?


Hassan Choudary

A former member of The Express Tribune national desk, an avid student of the Hindi film industry and an aspiring entrepreneur who tweets @hassanchoudary

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

  • http://none Bangash

    Pakistanis have no sense of balanceRecommend

  • Shantila Asoorjee

    Very true. salmaan taseer was a brave man so generous so so courageous and so principled. god bless him. miss him very much, not a day goes by without thinking abt his assasinationRecommend

  • Hamza Baloch

    Why you did not mentioned the debates on blasphemy laws?

    Thats was to much also, and result we all see!Recommend

  • maham khan

    so true!Recommend

  • Noor-ul-ain Hanif

    Media should keep a balance. It use to portray bad incidents a number of time and good incidents only few times and there is no sense if apology.Recommend


    90’s; the best n sane time when thngs were pretty much in control n not so off balance…another credit goes to musharraf for freeing media so much so that every tom dick n harry cud come with a handsome amount of money n strt a news broadcasting company or a private for which there were no checks n balances……
    i wudnt b calling media some agent although the work represents otherwise….!!! things have to b stopped, even if the government is branded as a “non-liberal” one but for the betterment of the society a step backward needs to be taken!!!Recommend

  • JS

    What about CNN broadcasting the footage of women getting beaten publicly by Taliban?

    Dude, channels all over the world cross limits sometimes. Dont just curse Pakistani media.Recommend


    JS: wteva the cnn n other western channels r promoting n propagating is against their enemies….i.e “us”…….so it is pretty obvious tht they rnt misusing their media against themselves whereas we ourselves r busy cutting down our own roots…n btw if ur talking abt that video clip about a girl being beaten in swat n still think tht it was true then u lack general knowledge i’d say….coz jst aftr the release of tht video the news of it being fake along with the proofs spread like a wildfire n tht, tht girl along with the other members of the video were paid for generating a false image of Pakistan…i wonder where u wer at tht time while geo n other news channels were facing embarrassment coz of not investigatin, before putin things on air….
    lastly, i d say plz stop being inspired by the west n copying them coz eventuallly u ll end up destemimn urslf anyway!!!Recommend

  • IWriteURead

    I second your opinion completely. Even the same applies for the journalist Shahzad Saleem….who was writing about country’s internal matters in an international paper.Recommend