The thin line between journalism and managed media was pointed out by Ejaz Haider in his column for Pakistan Today, ‘Journalism or Jabberwocky‘. Writing about a recent BBC report claiming that ISI is training and arming Taliban, Ejaz points out that, wait, the entire investigation was managed by Afghanistan’s spy agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS). “How could the BBC ensure the veracity of its story when the primary facilitator for it was the NDS”. This is not to say that the BBC report is inaccurate or accurate, it is just to say that when the information is provided by an intelligence agency, journalists should look for neutral sources who can verify the information, recognising that intelligence agencies have specific agendas that they are charged with promoting, none of which are ‘good journalism’. As Ejaz Haider notes, the response denying the BBC‘s claims by ISPR does not help much either. “How should I treat this statement, as gospel?”, Ejaz asks. “I can’t. It is the general’s job to defend the Pakistani military and the ISI.”
This is an underlying problem with much of the information we are presented by media today. How much of it actual journalism, and how much is actually media carefully managed by intelligence agencies of one nation or another? Without knowing who is the man behind the message, we, the public, are left in the dark.