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Reshaping Journalism

| by Ali Sukhanver

( September 25, 2014, Islamabad, Sri Lanka Guardian) Words have ever been very important either they are in written form or in spoken format. This importance of words gave birth to a very useful and influential type of ‘industry’ known as media. The experts and the specialists having an immaculate command and skillful authority on spoken or the written words became an inevitable part of this industry through the trade of journalism. From the print media to the electronic media, the history of journalism in itself is a magnificent record of human progress and achievements. Beginning with the art of converting phonetic sounds into written words and at last reaching the heights of communication, the skill of printing was initially defined as a process for reproducing text and images using a master form or template.

The earliest known form of woodblock printing came from China somewhere before 220 A.D. Another form of printing names as the movable type was first developed by Bi Sheng in China. Another more efficient printing process for western languages with their more limited alphabets was developed by Johannes Gutenberg in the fifteenth century. And now in 2014, the print as well as the electronic media has become so powerful and strong that even very popular and sound-based rulers have to kneel down before those who know how to use and misuse their words through print or the electronic media.

Media no doubt plays a very important role in making people popular among the masses and in changing the public opinion in favour of some ideology or concept and vice versa. And this ability or capability of molding and changing the public opinion has made media almost unbeatable in the modern world particularly in the Third World countries. Fortunately or unfortunately, Pakistan is one of those countries where the journalists from the print and the electronic media have succeeded in winning a very strange type of repute and status. Gone are the days when impartiality and lack of prejudice used to be the basic qualifications of the journalists either from the print or the electronic media in Pakistan. Establishing a media group comprising of a newspaper and a TV-channel has unfortunately become a very successful type of investment. Though there are so many TV channels and newspapers which are very honestly strict to a particular philosophy or an ideology, but there are a few media groups which never own a particular philosophy. The owners of such media groups always take their newspaper or the TV channel as money-making machines and to fulfill their worldly dreams and desires, they seem always eager to do all fair and unfair following the Machiavellian like philosophy ‘ End justifies the means.’ Such media groups ignore all national interests and social values.

A few months back, the whole of the world around, witnessed a very strange rather shockingly unpatriotic behavior of a Pakistani media group which has been allegedly trying to make itself influential in every national and political affair of Pakistan by using all fair and unfair tools. It is true that the said media group succeeded in achieving most of the goals set for it by some anti-Pakistan forces but in spite of its best efforts it could not succeed in defaming the Armed Forces of Pakistan and the premier intelligence agency the ISI. The nation showed worst reaction when this media group tried to drag the ISI in the murder attempt on a senior journalist attached with this group. Not only the common public but also the cable operators throughout Pakistan expressed solidarity with the ISI and the Armed Forces of Pakistan by banning the transmission of the TV channel belonging to this media group. The government of Pakistan took serious judicial action against this group by imposing fine on it and by putting restrictions on its transmissions of this channel for a certain period of time. But all these actions could not pacify the public rage and wrath. An unannounced type of boycott of the newspaper and the TV channel belonging to this media group is still being observed. Unfortunately instead of mending its objectionable ways and manners, this group did not learn any lesson from the public reaction and kept on harping on the same strings. It neither changed its policy nor reviewed its strategy. Furthermore in protest against the public reaction, government’s action and against the reaction of the cable-operators, the hi-ups of this media group started portraying this group as a subdued victim. The employees of this media group are being compelled to play a vibrant role against the reaction of the nation. Some of the very popular and competent journalists, who had been working with this media group for a long time, have now joined other media groups because these senior journalists and anchors were not willing to put aside all traditions of neutrality and impartiality which are the basic characteristics of journalism.

It is the demand as well as the requirement of the whole nation that the PEMRA must make it sure that every media group follows a homogenous policy introduced by the government. Freedom of expression is no doubt very important but in the name of this freedom, no channel and no news paper must be allowed to spread an air of mistrust through prejudiced views and oblique-angled-vision. All media groups must realize that it is their responsibility to promote a positive image of this country as well as of all national institutions. Portraying our own national institutions in a negative way and giving the national scenario a gloomy look with sad colours would never be called patriotism.