Pakistan Media – Ethical Army Liberation Front

May 28, 2014 by     Comments Off on Pakistan Media – Ethical Army Liberation Front    Posted under: Expressions, Opinions

They will sell their souls for ratings!

This, sadly, is the general perception of Pakistani media now-a-days.  Our media seriously confuses “freedom of speech” with “ethical journalism”. During the past decade, the Pakistani media has expanded by an exponential rate. This relatively new-found freedom is in sharp contrast with the preceding 50 years, during which the Pakistani journalists had been fighting hard against the relentless censorship, muzzling, seizure and forced nationalization of print media.In 2002, the former President Pervez Musharraf introduced several ordinances and rules for the liberation of the Pakistani Media. The 18th amendment is especially significant in promulgating the notion of freedom of speech. Had he known, he would also become one of the victims of the freed media, he might have chosen differently.

With the boom in the media sector, specifically the electronic media, came a swarm of untrained and inexperienced reporters, anchors and other media personnel to fill the vacuum created by the shortage of senior journalists. Little do these pseudo-journalists know about media ethics, and its importance in shaping the general opinion of the public.The line between the media sector and the entertainment industry is getting more and more blurred. Our political talk shows have become reality shows, with anchors acting as puppeteer, and participants yelling at each other on the top of their lungs, even throwing objects at each other; and all this is broadcasted for the sake of those wretched ratings.

Then, there is this non-stop race of broadcasting the news ‘first’, may it be confirmed or not. Even the most trivial of matters, are presented as the news of the century, with bright dynamic slides and extra-large fonts, dramatic background music, and the hysteric reporter practically panting with excitement uttering and repeating total gibberish in the name of news. This sensationalism has not only caused the loss of the credibility of our news channels, but has also make the general public addicted to the adrenaline rush caused by these tantalizing headlines. Real and serious issues are side-lined and irrelevant juicy stuff makes it way to the screen. Issues are freely twisted to fit any specific mold. A recent example being the reporting of a cultural event at a local college in Lahore, in which the event coverage was afterwards used to show the “increasing vulgarity in our educational institutions”. That was a display of totally unethical behavior on part of the channel.

A new trend of ‘raid’ programs has also taken the electronic media by storm. All that is required is a cameraman capable of running with his equipment on the shoulders, and a ‘really really’ loud host. If presented with a little skill and tactic, and going easy on the masalaparts,these kinds of programs can actually prove to be very beneficial for the society. On the contrary, these kinds of programs are usually major offenders of media ethics code. Taking the law in their own hands, becoming self-proclaimed judges, trespassing on personal space are the essential elements of these shows.

It is high time to identify media as the fifth and an equally influential pillar of the society. The most important role of media is to keep the community in check, but someone needs to keep them in check too. No denying that the classification of news as ethical or unethical is very ambiguous, but the journalists should be astute enough to identify the grey areas as shades of black and white.There is an immediate need of framing a media code of conduct to ensure that the information media remains impartial. Educated and creditable people should be encouraged and brought forward in the field who instead of perceiving media as kingmaker, identify it as a weapon of mass instruction and social good.

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