When Watch Dogs Become Lap Dogs

Jan 8th, 2011 | By | Category: Uncategorized

Much is said about the role of media as watch dog. This is almost always used as a justification for criticising government policy or accusing someone of corruption, usually without any evidence. It’s true that keeping watch over politicians and government officials is part of media’s role in society (though it must be done honestly if it is to be effective), but politicians are not the only ones that need watching over. Actually, the media is failing to do a large part of its job.

Ali Dayan Hasan, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, makes an astute observation about the role of media in the spread of the jihadi mindset in his op-ed for the International Herald Tribune:

The media no longer dares to scrutinize judicial conduct for fear of “contempt” proceedings by a judiciary that has had the temerity to hold a hearing on whether parliament could amend the constitution. Journalists self-censor out of fear of military and intelligence agencies. But the media has remained free to propagate an Islamist, nationalist, and anti-Western line.

While media has the responsibility to be a government watch dog, government is not the only social institution that must be checked. When President Zardari threatened to ban jokes against him, there was a media uproar. But when the judiciary threatens ‘contempt’ against those who question them, the media is silent. Is this not an equally or possibly even worse abuse of power?

When the Governor Punjab is assassinated by a man brainwashed by a jihadi mindset, the TV anchors do not condemn this act of violence. Rather, they ask the question, “Is he a hero?” This is not a new development, either. We saw the same self censorship when extremists burnt alive a group of Christians in Gojra. As we wrote at the time:

The media that has become the self proclaimed flag bearers of truth and honesty finds it very easy to attack politicians, abuse them and threaten them with a judicial or military coup. But it is scared when it has to talk about extremists and terrorists.

Many journalists claim to be courageous defenders of the truth when they are attacking politicians and government policies. But when they are faced with a judiciary, intelligence agencies, or violent extremists they are silent. It’s not enough to criticise the president. It takes real courage to criticise those who will abuse their power to hide the truth.

It’s time our journalists start acting like real watch dogs, and not lap dogs for anti-democratic forces in our country.

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  1. media- make and break things depend upon who (politician) own the channel.

  2. […] When Watch Dogs Become Lap Dogs | Pakistan Media Watch This entry was posted in Media and tagged accusing-someone, government-policy, keeping-watch, […]

  3. Media are controlled by the government. It’s not free like it should be. It tells maximum news about politicians. I sometimes think that it is all a facade

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