Within the last decade the face of Pakistani media has changed forever. The last few years have witnessed a phenomenal growth of television media, as cooking channels, music channels, movie channels and most of all news channels opened up across Pakistan on an unprecedented scale.
As this influx of new media took to the airwaves, the way Pakistanis received their news fundamentally changed with dozens of new channels and hundreds of new shows for people to react and discuss politics and the economy. Undoubtedly, media has become a force like never before.
It was during the Musharraf years that the country witnessed this startling growth amongst channels. Though the last two years witnessed a severe clampdown on the media, the media were originally strongly in favour of the President, only turning against him in the last two years.
Indeed, former Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi has, arguably, made a point that the media were acting like a political party, clearly indicating a heavy bias in media reporting of the situation. After days of predicting his downfall and very often asking him to step down through editorials and discussions, the media got their wish on Monday when the beleaguered leader left his office.
The days leading up to this event saw a drastic shift in news reporting, with Pervez Musharraf being referred to more and more as “General Musharraf” and less and less as “President Musharraf”. Reporting on the news of the resignation, headlines were replete with the word “dictator”. In the days and weeks leading up to the event one particular newspaper contained stories alleging Israeli and Indian help for the then-President.
While struggling to out-scoop their competitors and cover the issue extensively, the media, it appears, are often forgetting the deepest duty they have – the duty to remain objective and report the news. In times of political uncertainty and hyper-partisanship Pakistan needs not a media that gives a loudspeaker to the latest rumour or panders to those in power. The nation needs objective reporting and most of all verified stories to report the news accurately.
The writer is an intern at Business Recorder and is currently studying Political Science and History at Tufts University in the United States.
Courtesy: Business Recorder, 21/8/2008