Media Predictions Proved Wrong Yet Again

Mar 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Business Recorder, Pak Observer, Pakistan Today, The Nation

Hussain HaqqaniLast year we ran a short series on ‘Wishful Journalism’ that included an piece about media predictions that Husain Haqqani’s removal was imminent. These predictions were eventually proven incorrect, and the Ambassador was given an extension of one year. As that one-year extension approached its end this month, the predictions were once again revived and several media outlets quoting mysterious and unnamed sources announced that Husain Haqqani would be removed from his post by May. Once again, the predictions proved incorrect.

Pakistan Today published the prediction last Thursday, and The Nation also ran the story three days later.

Pakistan Observer included the prediction in an article yesterday, ironically the same day that Business Recorder included a report confirming that Haqqani would continue as Ambassador.

Foreign Office on Monday clarified that Ambassador Hussain Haqqani will continue with his post at Washington.

In response to media reports regarding the replacement of Haqqani with another senior politician, the Foreign Office spokesperson termed these as “untrue”.

A section of press quoting sources had published that the government had decided to replace Hussain Haqqani with a politician who was also a former foreign minister.

However, the Foreign Office categorically said that Haqqani would continue with his responsibilities as ambassador in Washington.

It should be noted that the reports in Pakistan Today, The Nation, and Pakistan Observer were all based on anonymous ‘sources’. Why did none of these newspapers take the simple step of picking up the phone and calling the FO to confirm what their sources told them? It should also be asked if these newspapers will continue to use the sources that have misled them.

Another point to be raised is that the report predicting Haqqani’s removal included a restatement of the disproven visa conspiracy. As has been explained numerous times, the issuance of a large number of visas in one day was not done for “likes of [Raymond] Davis”, but for an official delegation from the US including Hilary Clinton’s staff and security. According to evidence provided at the Embassy press conference in February, these individuals were only in the country for 2-3 days.

Media has proven exceptionally bad at predicting the future. Thankfully, this is an unnecessary role. Actually the people would be much better served if the media stuck to its proper role of reporting the present and doing so based on facts that have been verified and not anonymous rumours.

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