Media Distortion

Jan 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized
Journalists respond to Peshawar Press Club attack

Journalists respond to Peshawar Press Club attack

Syed Irfan Ashraf has a great column in today’s Dawn about the dangerous and difficult job performed by journalists. Actually, this job is made dangerous by those people who want the media to be not fair and unbiased, but only pushing a particular point of view.

The article mentions a particular incident that highlights the unfortunate result of this pressure against journalists who are trying to do a good job:

All too often journalists find themselves in a tight spot. In a talk show a Voice of America host unexpectedly asked a local journalist in Swat as to who was responsible for violating last February’s accord for the implementation of the Sharia in Malakand — the Taliban or the army? The baffled reporter from Express TV reluctantly replied that it was neither the Taliban, nor the army but the people!

In this way the reporter tried to escape the wrath of the real violators by putting the responsibility on the victims. Unfortunately for him, this did not do the trick. He soon received a call from a militant who reprimanded him for spouting utter nonsense and for not telling the ‘truth’ that the security forces were responsible.

The two groups that are criticized in the article are militants and state agencies. Obviously, militants believe that they can threaten and silence the media, for example the incident of the Peshawar Press Club bombing. And there have also been some cases of state agencies putting pressure on individuals as well, not only in Pakistan, but in all countries. And there are, sadly, even some pressures from politically motivated media like the case of The Nation accusing reporters of being spies.

The result of this pressure and intimidation is that media starts to become distorted in order to avoid making any trouble. This can be seen in the case quoted by the article above, or in the case of pop music made in last year’s video featuring Ali Azmat talking about how Taliban is not a problem. In the video, even the Noori brothers say that they don’t want to criticize Taliban because they don’t want to be targets. These are famous pop stars! How can a typical journalist even compare?

With the many crises that confront our country, we need the facts about the situations in order to come to the right solutions. But the pressures from militants and others that have some political motivation against the truth are standing in the way of progress. It may seem like only a small thing to intimidate one journalist. But the truth is, it is as big as the nation. If the people do not know the facts, if their heads are always filled with crazy conspiracies, or if all the reporters and journalists are simply too insecure to be able to perform their jobs, the loser will not be the media only. It will be the entire country.

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