The News stoops even lower – by Eqbal Alavi

The News is no alien to yellow journalism. The whole Jang Group has an immense history of publishing concoted stories based on the unknown sources of investigative journalist in-charge Ansar Abbasi, the imaginations of Saleh Zafar and the conspiracies of Shaheen Sehbai. But with the story about “lady guides” being given front-page importance by The News, it has become clear once again that it has drooped to the lowest levels of moral, journalistic and intellectual standards.

On July 2, 2010 it published the following story:-
‘Lady guides’ hired during Zardari’s Turkey visit not paid’

Firstly, the emphasis is again on President Zardari rather than stating that some guides hired for a state tour haven’t been paid. Then, the term is quoted in quotes again and again as “lady guides” and words used include to “facilitate the entourage”. The News without stating it clearly mean to say that the ladies were either escorts/prostitutes or were providing some “special” service. The term combined with the President’s name in the heading makes it clear that The News is trying to make it sound like (intentionally, of course) a sex scandal.

Today, the paper stooped even lower with an editorial on the issue.

The very first paragraph reads :

An FO spokesman has suggested they were interpreters; other accounts say they were ‘guides’. Everyone is of course free to reach their own conclusions. The fact they were hired from an unregistered tour operator, without the knowledge of the ambassador to Turkey at the time, may give further clues. The clandestine – and rather sleazy–nature of the whole affair was made worse by the failure to pay the girls until the intervention of a Turkish court.

The clear focus on “sleazy”, “guides” and the issue being “clandestine” is portraying the editorial desk’s thinking and intentions.Editorials handle important issues with the focus being on a short, all-encompassing rational and thought-provoking issue. When you lamented about editors not doing enough, here you have an editor doing precisely the worst thing possible. The Editorial again hints at the supposed misconduct that it wants to create out of the story. By stating “Everyone is of course free to reach their own conclusions” the editors have made clear their opinion that it is some kind of a sex scandal and linking it not with a state visit but directly to the President, it is clearly conducting the highest levels of criminal journalism. Such pieces of yellow journalism do not demand being given any worthy mention but coupled with the fact that the President is a widower, the newspaper has tried to portray the President as being involved in a scandal so as to capture the public’s attention on its alleged war against the President and deem him as having no moral

Although it published a statement from the Presidential Spokesman as well, the newspaper is clearly and precisely hinting at sexual misconduct from the President.

I would never have covered it for such stories don’t deserve mention but the newspaper’s willingness to publish an editorial demanded that I should, as a responsible citizen, deem this as a crime and bring it to everyone’s notice how one news-media group is personally targeting people.



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