Pakistani news media: It pays to pull dirty little stunts

By Talha Ahmed

awer

Pakistani news media is busy pulling dirty little stunts and nobody wants to stop it……………

But good news is most Pakistanis are getting fed up with local news channels because they think most of the media outlets sell “smelly garbage” in the name of news. The garbage they sell is even smellier than what the Indian journalists sell on their news channels.

Of course, no one has to watch sensationalist news coverage—but what if it’s rammed down your throat every time you turn on your TV?

Take the case of a 5-year-old girl who was raped in Lahore a couple of days ago. The media jumped at the chance to use the issue to its own advantage, which of course had little to do with the poor girl, but more to do with making money. Though making people aware of serious issues is a good thing, playing up and dwelling on a child rape issue is utterly disgusting.

The girl’s rape case too came as a “good earning opportunity” to media gurus—like any other sensitive issue they love to capitalize on. The case pit big channels against each other. They frantically (and shamelessly) competed against each other, claiming they broke the news first and they were the ones deserving the most attention. The ratings did shoot up and money started rolling in.

And when the dust settled, it felt like nothing ever happened. There were no more talks on child rape on TV now. Anchors turned to another issue that promised big ratings. The media gurus are smart. They know how to move on and shift their focus from one issue to another. The Sumbul rape case was done and disposed of.

Public confidence in the news media is at an all-time low. And that is encouraging. One reason is that most of the news channels aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing. They are helping their paymasters (owners) make more and more money. Most of the well-known journalists and TV anchors, who once earned a mere pittance for reporting and editing, are now touted as paragons of virtue. They are able to shape public opinion while pocketing big sums every month thanks to “sensationalism”.

Not everyone in the media is as sneaky as Mubashir Lucman, but most of them are a waste of time.

Getting information and knowledge through TV is great when you don’t have enough time to find the truth on your own, but that’s no longer our situation. Unfortunately, the news media makes the products we like and appreciate (for all the wrong reasons)—which leads to sensationalism, and never-ending appetite for money. And the ratings keep going up.

There are dozens of news channels operating in Pakistan today, and most of them are sensationalist. They are like tabloids that feed on exaggeration and even false stories. In fact, there are only a handful of large-circulation newspapers left in Pakistan, but they can’t compete the electronic media when it comes to attracting the audiences.

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