Stories about news channels

Is unbiased news too much to ask for?

Objectivity has always been touted as the golden rule of journalism. A good journalist, we are told, is one that can accurately convey all the facts without any sort of editorial bias. That is a noble notion indeed, but the fact of the matter is that news comes from journalists, and journalists like all human beings, are essentially flawed. They too have strong opinions and viewpoints on matters and events, but it is expected of them to ensure that their personal views do not, in any way, interfere with the impartiality of the news that they are trying to convey. This, of ...

Read Full Post

Raymond Davis and uncontrollable social media

I realised the impact of social media on Wednesday when the news of Raymond Davis’ release was announced on news channels. I am a journalist, but I wasn’t as quick to disseminate information as social network websites like Facebook and Twitter were. The ‘breaking news’ had barely hit the airwaves when my phone, email inbox and Facebook were flooded with messages. People were looking for confirmation of the news, personal opinions and, of course, were venting anger against the government. Less than an hour later, as more information was revealed, discussions and debates began to emerge. I took a keen interest and silently ...

Read Full Post

Forgotten in Japan: Thousands of Pakistanis that no one is reporting about

The newscaster’s voice was audible even before I entered the house after attending my morning classes. “Earthquake in Japan” “Magnitude of 8.9 on the Richter scale” “Waves wash away the infrastructure of Sendai” “Tsunami warning issued to other nations in the Pacific basin” As I ran inside, the images and videos on TV showed one of the biggest calamities to hit the earth. However for me, unlike most Pakistanis, the news wasn’t easy to forget. It took a while to sink in. My father was there. “Is he safe?” I grabbed the remote and switched the channel over to BBC and saw footage of the destruction of one of ...

Read Full Post

Biased media: We are all to blame

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 ...

Read Full Post

The day I got fired from Dunya News

According to a BBC Urdu report, nearly 300 journalists have lost their jobs in 2010. Yesterday, my husband and I became a part of this statistic. Our contracts were terminated without warning and without notice and the reason given to us was that the company was being “restructured” and according to the new model our posts had been dissolved. While the financial crisis has led to constant downsizing, money is not the only reason for heartlessly firing trusted old employees. In most cases, simple structural changes spell disasters for middle tier staff. Of course, no one expects something like this to happen. ...

Read Full Post

Sharmila and the media: Irresponsibility at its best

“Gang rape in Clifton” was a headline plastered across most newspapers today; while most news agencies protected the victim’s identity, English newspapers Daily Times and The Nation violated media ethics by publishing her full name, the area where she lived, the license plate number of her car and other details about the victim’s personal life. Enter Sharmila Farooqui During her media briefing, Information Adviser Sharmila Farooqui publicly named the victim and spoke of her in an apparently derogatory manner; it seemed that she had expected the victim to give her a full-blown account of the incident, and when that didn’t happen, ...

Read Full Post

Selective coverage: What the stories we never hear about mean

Keeping an eye on how the media has been working in Pakistan, I have been confused about whether it is actually performing its role –  its real role as an unbiased observer to events – and providing masses with untampered facts and information. Aside from its highly anti-government policies and the Zardari obsession, there are other reasons that makes its role suspect. With reference to the Pakistan army, the media’s role remains ambiguous. For reasons that are obvious, there has been a serious lack of reporting on exactly how the army has been conducting activities in Balochistan and Fata. But recent events are alarming. Last week ...

Read Full Post

Media coverage: Shock, sell, forget…

The other day, one of the major TV news channels was doing a story on the two brothers, Mughees and Muneeb who were beaten to death by a frenzied mob in Buttar village, Sialkot. The program did short interviews with residents of Hajipura, where the boys were from, and with their families. This is probably old news and will not “shock” or “sell” but it was encouraging and depressing in the same breath. It was encouraging because television channels do not usually follow-up on their stories. Something horrible happens, someone does something inhuman, there is a hue and cry, “analysts” and ...

Read Full Post

The voice of (un)reason

What happens when you put three political leaders on a standardized panel set with a confused looking anchor and throw in the word ‘pithoo‘? A bar room brawl that would put fraternity boys to shame. Leaders on a local talk show recently became highly emotional when the issue of secret loyalties to the US came up. The entire situation descended in politicians childishly echoing “No, you are” at each other and ended with one leader picking up a glass of water and flinging it across the set at his colleague. Thankfully, he missed. The Tehreek-e-Insaaf and Pakistan Peoples Part ...

Read Full Post

Does our media have attention deficit disorder?

News stories are like bomb blasts in Pakistan. Stories, like bombs, go off at frequent intervals here. People die every day and those who survive get agitated and display their anger at the lack of security. But then another bomb explodes and everyone forgets about the previous one. It seems the media follows a similar path. The biggest story of the year The media told us that the floods were the most devastating catastrophe to have ever been witnessed by Pakistan. Newspaper headlines shouted that more people had been affected than in the Haiti earthquake, tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake ...

Read Full Post