Tag Archives: responsibility

Pakistani media: power sans responsibility

[TFT] A partisan media is biting the hand of democracy that feeds it, says Raza Rumi

It was hoped by many that the electronic media following its exponential growth during the last few years would take stock of its roles and responsibilities. However, the years 2007 and 2008 were not the best of times for such an introspection to materialise into a self-regulation process. Authoritarian or transitional environments are not conducive to a culture of informed debate and the evolution of sound regulatory regimes. Nevertheless, there have been scattered noises and appeals by many observers, analysts and concerned citizens even within the media community.

From the brutality of displaying dismembered limbs on television screens to creating a panic-oriented news culture and relegating the status of objective ‘anchors’ to partisan political players, the trends were and continue to be, disturbing. Against the backdrop of the events of March 2009 the role of the electronic media was far from gratifying. The self congratulatory hysteria that now pervades the various channels betrays their utter inability to look back and introspect. Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, lawyers movement, Media, Pakistan

Pakistan’s media opinion – the column industry

Raza Rumi

On the flourishing ‘column’ industry despite the slow growth of readership’

What is so peculiar about the Pakistani media opinion factories churning out problems and solutions products day after day? Frankly, they are self perpetuating oligarchies and boring at best. The slightly discerning mortals who browse the daily newspapers in English and vernacular languages or bother to engage with the electronic media discussions are struck by certain repetitive trends. Let me map them out before rambling any further. On a note of caution, there is no intention of making generalisations here. Exceptions, they say, prove the rule!

The curse of self-importance

Nowhere else would you find brazen references to the importance of a writers’ opinion particularly among the Urdu language newspaper columnists. Despite the slow growth of readership, the ‘kalam-navees’ industry is flourishing. A few years ago, a new Urdu newspaper with a hefty advertising budget, ensured that a few big names in the column industry were under its wings. Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, journalism, Languages, Media, Pakistan, Society

Pakistan’s Media – responsibility must anchor freedom

By Raza Rumi 

IT is a truism that media freedom in Pakistan today has been earned after a long struggle which will perhaps continue in the years to come.

Deepening of democratic traditions and their permeation in society are sine qua non for a free media. Whilst there can be no two opinions on the independence of the media, the need for greater responsibility and professionalism has to be articulated in no uncertain terms. Such is the confusion and chaos triggered by an overgrown executive that the issue of responsibility has been sidelined by the overwhelming noises for media freedom especially since the tinkering with the text and application of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Ordinance.

We are now getting used to a television culture that imitates the life of Pakistani tharras, chai-khanas and drawing-rooms where politics is discussed ad nauseum. Rare exceptions include issue oriented talk-shows but they appear bland unless their all knowing hosts inject some political spice into them. Expertise is taken for granted; new-age generalists judge every subject under the sun and occasionally take themselves a bit too seriously. Yes, the commercial imperative of the media dictates programming patterns. But there has to be a method to this disorderliness.

The most recent occasion of electronic media wizardry was the announcement of the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition candidate for the unenviable job of the prime minister. The moment the announcement was made, a leading channel played a popular Indian film song that lamented broken promises. In this case, the fabled promise of the prime ministerial cookie for Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

Admittedly, the party of the people and its allies were secretive about the process. The principle of transparency, ideally, is germane to elected institutions. However, this is neither an ideal world nor is it going to turn into one overnight. The way a momentous decision was trivialised was not in good taste. The news industry forgot that this was a party still recovering from the brutal murder of its omnipresent leader less than three months ago. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizens, Democracy, Media, Pakistan, public policy