Responsible vs Responsive Media

By Hafsa Amin.

“The bosses of our mass media, press, radio, film and television, succeed in their aim of taking our minds off disaster. Thus, the distraction they offer demands the antidote of maximum concentration on disaster”

-Ernst Fischer

Media – the fourth pillar of nowadays politics undoubtedly plays the role of a watchdog and an instrument of forming public opinion. The basic responsibility of media is to educate the masses while entertaining them. But unfortunately the entertainment part has overshadowed the educational one. The competition between media channels is no more about who provides the right information but who provides the quickest and quirkiest headlines. Each channel having a set of analysts focusing on slandering and character assassination gives relative advantage to subjective analysis rather than objective. Our media is less responsible but more responsive to controversies and defamations.

Be it a political statement by a specific person “Mujhe kyun nikala” or Imran Khan’s marriage, the news channels dramatize each, unnecessary news with background music and flashbacks, presenting more of a screenplay than reporting. The once educational institutions are becoming sarcasm oriented amusement frolics. The contest of attaining higher ratings has stifled the greater cause of journalism.

“sarcasm has successively taken over logics and our media has effectively contaminated journalism”

Many important and worthy events pass by while the focus of the lens is around controversies. No media attention has been given to the peaceful protests by Pashtuns in Islamabad. The protests were around the killing of Naqeeb in a false encounter and state terrorism. But since there wasn’t any wear and tear, the situation was unable to get the media’s attention. The same media channels would effectively provide their services of intensive analysis over the third marriage of PTI’s chairman Imran Khan.

Another similar protest is on-going in Bajaur against army check posts in Swat and in continuation to Naqeeb’s murder. And it is receiving the same response by media. It is worth noticing that a new media channel is entirely based on smearing approach and have recently made a notable development in terms of rating.

These channels are successfully promoting the ideas of defame instead of discuss, insult instead of inform and undress instead of address, the youth being their direct victim. The concept of elaborative discussions and intellectual debates are falling prey to such sentimental arguments. Sarcasm has successively taken over logics. And our media has effectively contaminated journalism.

“quite comical is the fact that one channel would dig out every possible escape for the government and the other would highlight even the slightest error”

There are still quite a number of journalists who are responsive as well as responsible but their number is far less than the dramatic ones. It is quite crucial for the media of our country to take up their responsibility and promote logical argumentation and information. We, as a nation should be more concerned about the national and humanitarian dilemmas than the personal life of the popular elite. Instead of projecting subjective analysis to the minds of the viewers, objective approach should be circulated. Our national and political disputes do not require background music but rational and critical overviews. The only way of engaging youth is using music and it might sound good as an artist but having DJ’s and music between political processions is way too much. The policy adopted by news channels is further adopted by political leaders and their processions do not have valid reasoning (striking similarity with the majority of media channels) but a good sound system and playlist. Thus the media can righteously take credit in presenting vocals instead of locals.

Also, news channels with a specific anti-government or pro-government approach should be opposed. It is worth noticing that the most popular media channels of Pakistan have a contrasting resemblance. Quite comical is the fact that one channel would dig out every possible escape for the government and the other would highlight even the slightest error. The viewers can spend their time watching both the channels for same news but different outcomes and they cannot but laugh at these journalists.

“it would be in the collective interest of the nation if sponsors invest in the right kind of broadcast medium”

It is time that unlabeled and unbiased news channels should be funded and promoted. The masses should realize the difference between sponsored content and actual content in order to find the facts. It is hard to say that any official and national setup could ever be created to crumb such subjectivity although, thanks to the recent political rift, the youth is actively getting engaged in politics and can prove to be the rational component provided the right information. And the right information would not come from the top rated media channels but research oriented approach.

The rising media channels might use this opportunity to flourish by giving extra weightage to logics rather than emotions. They can utilize this deficiency in their best regard and might uphold the standards of journalism in Pakistan. Individual sentiments could be discouraged and the reporting can possibly be fact-oriented. It would be in the collective interest of the nation if sponsors invest in the right kind of broadcast medium. Otherwise the only important issues left for the Pakistani public to ponder upon would soon be the relationships, affairs, marriages and children of the far-famed personas.

About Author:

Hafsa Amin is Lecturer of Social Science and a Social analyst. She can be reached at hafsa.amin@live.com

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