Daily Archives: July 24, 2008

Invasion of the sound byte snatchers

Khalid Hasan writing for the Friday Times

Pakistan’s politicians, sportsmen, actors, VIPs – in short anyone who is anyone, or is likely to be anyone in the coming days – are under attack from a new breed of guerrillas, armed not with automatics but with microphones in various colours and sizes that they use as weapons of attack. They don’t demand, “Your money or your life,” as any self-respecting robber or highwayman would before taking one or the other. They simply thrust the microphone in their quarry’s face, sometimes hitting him or her on the chin and on occasion nearly knocking out his or her teeth, and demand that their question be answered. The waylaid one risks life, limb and reputation if he or she declines to provide the sound byte being demanded.

Every day I read, hear or get told that President Pervez Musharraf should be impeached. While I will not be marching from Lahore to Islamabad screaming slogans, I hope that to the list of charges against him will be added the free-for-all he is responsible for providing in the form of more TV channels in the Republic than there are mushrooms in Michigan. The microphone marauders on the prowl operate on behalf of one or the other channel. But what on earth are they looking for? A sound byte, three words that can feed the running strip of “feeta” on their screens, provided the perpetually running commercials leave an inch or two for the “breaking story.” Continue reading

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