Is Jang Group Reporting Facts…Or Erasing Them?

Apr 1st, 2010 | By | Category: Jang, The News

Is Jang Group Reporting Facts...Or Erasing Them?The past few weeks have been filled with enough political news to keep any reporter busy. This creates a prime opportunity to view what different media groups are reporting and how they are reporting it. For our first examination, we looked at how The News (Jang Group) is reporting the constitutional reforms. The results of our first test has been disappointing.

In The News today, the top stories include one article about the historic constitutional reforms – the same number as about Shoaib’s marriage. No fewer than four stories are about the Swiss case. The constitutional reforms are a historic event, regardless of what political party anyone belongs to, and yet they are receiving less reporting than a legal debate.

And it’s not just the number of articles that is troubling. Consider the language that is being used in what are supposed to be news reports (not opinion columns). Take a look at the language used in the News article about the historic constitutional reforms.

Nowhere in the article is President Zardari mentioned by name, despite the fact that he was integral to the proposition and passage of this historic package. Instead, the article is reported as if Raza Rabbani had invented and passed the package of reforms all by himself. Actually, the reforms required the leadership of the PPP, the political party Zardari co-chairs, and could not have been enacted with his support.

Consider how this same package is being reported in the international media. The Christian Science Monitor wrote:

“It’s a massive political boost to [Zardari],” says Cyril Almeida, a political columnist for Dawn, Pakistan’s leading English-language daily. “It’s not the standard practice in Pakistan to give away powers. It’s more the reverse, where people consolidate or accumulate powers.”

Mr. Almeida points out, however, that Mr. Zardari will retain leverage over Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani in his capacity as co-chair of their ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

“The President is honoring our party’s commitment to restore the 1973 constitution and undo the usurpation of the authority of the people’s house by military dictators,” says Farahnaz Ispahani, Mr. Zardari’s spokeswoman, referring to former Pakistani ruler Gen. Zia ul-Haq.

The 27-member parliamentary committee, which included all parties and was led by the PPP, announced late Wednesday that it had reached a consensus, almost 10 months after convening. They approved the draft of the constitutional amendment, which is set to be presented for a vote in the lower and upper houses of parliament.

With the draft bill alone, however, the reforms are essentially a “sealed deal,” says Rasul Baksh Rais, a professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

It is a “gain for democracy and democratic forces in the country,” he says.

Consider also the reporting from The Telegraph:

The deal was last night hailed by President Asif Zardari who told The Daily Telegraph it was a “historic moment” for the country’s democratic forces, and the fulfilment of his late wife Benazir Bhutto’s dream.

“The pledges made with the people to restore the 1973 Constitution have been honored. It is a victory for the democratic forces, a culmination of decades old struggle and a fulfilment of the dream of my wife Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto,” he said.

“All political parties and democratic forces deserve credit for it. The Pakistan Peoples Party is specially pleased as it marks the end of distortions introduced into the Constitution,” he added.

The agreement was also welcomed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League (N) who said it was a welcome example of consensus. “This proves that political leadership in Pakistan, once it joins hands, rising above petty differences, can resolve the most difficult of issues,” he said.

These are fair an un-biased reports that do not favor any particular political party or agenda. They are simply providing the information to their readers who can then make up their own minds. Why can’t our press report like this? Instead, we have national media groups putting out articles about constitutional reforms that do not even mention the name of the President!

Pakistan’s media has sacrificed too much to free itself from censorship. Why would it now decide to censor itself. Please, do not sacrifice the facts for some political agenda. Instead, report the facts without any bias and let the people make up their own minds.

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