“Control your ‘flight of imagination and avoid fabrication’. the smarter the journalists are, the better off society is.” Warren Buffett .
Today, Pakistan is facing troubled times where people are dying of terrorism around the country. In a conflict ridden country media responsibilities are become doubled, here journalists have two roles; reporting role and a non reporting role. The reporting role of a journalist revolves around bringing true facts and democratic opinion to the public. And the non reporting role of a journalist revolves around using his/her stories to impart a message of tolerance, peace and harmony. The opinion of a journalist should be inspiring not only in keeping social harmony, but also in achieving democratic national development at the same time, in present circumstances. Pakistan is a Federation, comprises numerous diverse cultures and religious minorities, so media also pay attention to ethnic and religious as well as professional consideration in it’s work.
But our commercial media outlets and their ratings and dollars chaser anchors and reporters prefer stories that are sensationalized and trivialized. Mostly talk shows offer no insight and repeat the same religious and ultra nationalist rhetoric with more vigor and their content and discussion is a perfect illustration of anti democratic propaganda. These inane talk shows & analysis distorted and tarnished facts which in turn created panic, hatred, chaos and lawlessness in society.
Irresponsible reporting based on sensationalism add a fuel to fire and it can put innocent people in danger and may cause public panic. Since we have seen recently how right wing media sparking violence by irresponsibly reporting on sensitive issues i.e blasphemy law. We have heard and read lots of news items, articles and discussion, which provoked sentiments against Non Muslims and liberal elements. And they rightly feel that our corporate media glorifies violance and has been promoting phrases such as” this is a war between Islam and infidels”. But the fact that these phrases are not true, it’s not a religious war, suppose if it is true, than why terrorists are attacking liberal and secular Muslims, Sufis, Shi’a and others sect and why these elements are continuously challenging Islamic state’s writ? How quickly they forget that there is a national consensus on the war against terrorism, Pakistan’s representative parliament has unanimously passed a 14-point resolution on combating the rise of terrorism and extremism.
Looking at the media, there’s a major flaw in the way the debate over sensitive issues i,e religious, judicial and diplomatic were conducted. That’s not the way this debate should be conducted. Right wing journalists cum conspiracy theorists and pseudo religious and political intelectuals were able to whip up public emotion to a hazardous pitch, that resulted in the assassination of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. At that point human rights organizations and campaigners urged to halt anti-Christian hate campaign on television.They indicated that the situation has grown increasingly serious and, in view of the history, heightened tensions and the necessity to safeguard the peace and reach a just solution, any public incitement to hatred must be curtailed whether it is on television or otherwise.
I’ve already pointed out in my article,’ Did the media play a role in Salman Taseer’s murder?’, that a large part of the print and electronic media provides the much needed space to both hate mongers conspiracy theorists and radical groups to publicize their cause. The major responsibility of Taseer’s assassination rests with the irresponsible media and it’s howling and yelling anchors. There are several extremist anchors and rightest analysts in the media, who berated and maligned Taseer for supporting Aasia Bibi or condoned such behaviour. It’s also very unfortunate that the intelligence and security apparatus has well established links with mainstream media to espouse a particular cause. After Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti is the second PPP leader, who is victim of media irresponsible reporting.
In an interview to BBC Urdu Abbas Athar has alleged that Shaheed Salman Taseer’s killer is media, particularly one group. Listen his interview
Two brothers of the assassinated Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, also urged media to play its role in creating public awareness about extremism and its negative socio-economic impact.
The Daily Times, in its editorial, cautioned: “All those who have raised their voice against the extremist mindset are being threatened or harassed. The state must not let the terrorists challenge the writ of the state anymore. This is not the time to be frightened into silence. It is time to implement the law and not surrender in front of the extremists.”
After the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, ‘Reporter Talk Show’ anchor Arshad Sharif conducted a good show. Below are the video clips. Mr. Arshad Sharif questions if by maintaining a conspiracy of silence the entire society is complicit in their murders and the increasing trend of extremism in the country. Participants Dr Moeed Pirzada and Hina Jillani criticized media sparking violance by irresponsibly reporting on sensetive issues. We always say free media has to be synonymous with responsible media. We believe in a citizen centric media that is free from prejudice and bigotry as well as independent of any religious influence and sectarian bias.
Mostly right wing journalists are practicing yellow journalism; to attract or generate more revenue either on personal or organizational level. They are using emotions and religious rhetoric as a substitute for information & logic. And nation bombarded with the [non] news with a religious dose of hype.