A Better Use For Reporters

Feb 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

No, not fetching tea and biscuits. Ayaz Amir penned a column in The News last week that included an interesting aside about media that I think bears your consideration, dear readers. In what is primarily a column about national security issues, Amir observes that, despite being neighbors with both Afghanistan and India, our knowledge of these nations is largely derived from outside sources:

We live in a world of our own, obsessed with self-created problems, and lashing out at windmills which, much of the time, seem wild creations of our own imagination. To real problems we are oblivious. We are not even aware, as keenly as we should be, of our own neighbourhood.

It is nothing short of criminal that our media outlets don’t have full-time correspondents based in Kabul and Delhi. Our knowledge of our two neighbours, to the west and east of us, is largely derived from outside sources — western news outlets — when it should be through our own eyes and ears.

Our better reporters — and reporting is a department in which we are not very good –would be far better occupied covering India and Afghanistan than indulging in the mindless masochism of internal bloodletting.

My Lord the Chief Justice, famous now for his suo moto initiatives, could consider taking notice of this strange proclivity.

I think perhaps Amir is onto something important here. As I have noted before, there is a real danger of media organizations fueling militarism and anti-India populism, thereby hindering the possibility of peace, because war sells better. There is another real danger, too, though, which is that international media are shrinking the size of their reporter pools, and will increasingly be looking to Pakistan’s media for reliable information on the region. If it is true that our media outlets do not have full-time correspondents based in Kabul and Delhi, how will we be able to provide accurate and reliable information? The answer is, we will not.

Instead of sending full-time correspondents to important areas in neighboring Afghanistan and India, our media has enlisted a troupe of lip sync artists who simply parrot the sloganeering of shallow and often dishonest politicians. This results in the double injury of distracting the public from the really important issues as well as leaving the news organizations without their very life’s blood – news.

Pakistan’s media should be known worldwide as the central outlet of reliable information about not only Pakistan, but the region. Instead, we are increasingly becoming known as the people who only report conspiracy theories.

Our news organizations and media should stop wasting all of their time, money, and talent on chasing the next wild conspiracy. Please leave that to the teledrama writers and directors.

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