Stories about pakistani newspapers

Homegoing: An uncompromising and astonishing book

Every year, there comes a novel with the kind of pre-publication hype that puts all other contemporary writing in shade. There are endorsements by popular writers, generous blurbs printed on back covers by famous critics and talks of million-dollar book deals and film rights. This year, that book comes in the shape of Homegoing, the debut novel of Yaa Gyasi, a 26-year-old Ghanaian-American writer. One particular feature of such marketing campaigns and publicity tactics is that more than often, the novel shatters the hopes of the readers; it becomes an anti-climax to their fecund anticipations that are fermented by the abundance of praise and excitement ...

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A Pakistan for all seasons: Views of a Pakistani abroad

With each passing summer, I become increasingly weary upon hearing the same tired question, “But, are you sure you want to go back this year?” Whether the inquiry is presented by my father, a close friend, or even a concerned relative in Karachi, repetition has made it a mainstay in the uneasy arsenal of those who would oppose my annual visits to Pakistan. Do not misunderstand me – I understand their concern, one grounded in the unpredictable and often hostile socio-political climate of the nation. With the national and expatriate rumour mills alike saturated with horror stories about riots, home invasions, roadside robberies and ...

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Why didn’t we cover the Punjab Youth Festival?

I have learnt a lesson in the last few days, thanks to the Punjab Youth Festival. I had somehow started believing that our media actually cared about our success stories. But the festival proved to be a wakeup call for me. I learnt that we can cover, non-stop, politicians’ fight in assemblies, terrorist attacks, bomb blasts, road blockages by doctors and day-long rallies condemning the US or India. TV channels focus on each aspect of such incidents. Newspapers come up with dozens of side-stories for their readers’ interest. All this, however, only happens in the case of covering bad news. While almost ...

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Who is watching the social media wardens?

The recent issue of Maya Khan vigilantism and the subsequent uproar that ensued in the social media, resulting in the termination of the said anchor and her team, has brought to fore a number of questions. Whereas I wholeheartedly ascribe to the widely held opinion that this is a major victory for the liberal coterie which is otherwise known for keyboard ‘jihad’ alone, I have my contentions. Let’s not put down the entire thing to a liberal win. The impact of the social media’s protest over this issue, in particular, was hugely galvanised because it struck a chord with a vast ...

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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 ...

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So what if Urdu newspapers use English words?

A friend recently called my attention to a headline in a credible paper – hamari mulki tareekh kay corrupt tareen vizier-i-azam. I was furious. Such slander of the country’s prime minister can in no way be considered decent. The friend stopped me saying it was not this aspect of the headline he was hinting at – slander being the inescapable fate of whosoever wields power. He was annoyed at the English ‘corrupt’ and Persian ‘tareen’ being forged together. “What kind of Urdu is this?” “My dear,” I said, “it may once have been an English word. But with the English it ...

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Islamabad Etcetera: Have I got a story for you

Where at a time professions used to be identified by certain distinguishing marks, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw the universal sign of the labourer with the flat cap, the police with their badges and so on, these emblems also come with an assumed reputation. The flat cap was as depressed as the masses and wearing one immediately identified you as a proletariat. The ‘shield’, the policemen’s badge, appeared at once imposing and formidable. So too then by this measure does one see that by merely carrying a press card or announcing ones association with the fourth estate, a certain ...

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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 ...

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Why newspapers make you stupid

The maze of documents and media observations on the recent release of 400,000 classified Iraq war documents on Wikileaks ignites so many questions. But one can’t help but notice the many subtle and not-so-subtle diverging perspectives within the media agencies reporting the story. The British media (Guardian, Independent, BBC, etc.) came down quite hard on the atrocities reported therein and cited un-reported torture stories, civilian murders and children shot dead. However, the US headline story in New York Times was “Wikileaks founder is on the run,” completely sidelining the subject of war-logs and harping upon the personal life and daily ...

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Corporate greed, sensationalism and an irresponsible media

“Exaggeration is truth that has lost its temper.” Khalil Gibran. We live in a world of exaggeration. A world blinded by megalomania. We are getting blinder every passing day. We are a case of collective schizophrenia. It is one of the most dangerous ailments of all, but are we the only ones that are blind. We are surely the damned ones. A sensationalist press, not an adversarial one Whenever something goes wrong in the world, we become the scapegoats. The international media paints Pakistanis as a people devoid of moral standards. The Pakistani media borrows this portrayal to strengthen the bias, giving ...

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