Media in the line of fire
EMOTION boiled over as the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday condemned ‘fake reports’ in the media. The members were angry over how the media had reported the issue of fake degrees that some MPs may have secured to be eligible for the 2008 election. The condition that made it mandatory for all candidates for election to the Senate, the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies has since been withdrawn. Yet the elected houses in the country continue to be haunted by the clause which was to be adhered to at the time these members were elected. The degrees are under scrutiny in the wake of court cases and there are daily media reports which claim to reveal the true face of an elected member hiding behind a bogus degree. In the Punjab Assembly session on Wednesday MPAs broke down amid loud accusations from members that journalists were colluding with the judiciary and the generals and forever ran down the politicians.
Such a rare display of emotion and of unity was hardly required to convey to the newsmen and the public that the politicians are greatly upset by this scrutiny of their educational record. There are even suggestions that parliament should enact some law to protect MPs affected by the fake-degree investigation. On Wednesday the Punjab MPAs rightly pointed out that the media needed to be careful in reporting on the subject – as it should be careful in its work generally. They were absolutely right in complaining that they are often singled out for flogging by the media while some others are considered too holy for criticism. However, the content of the angry speeches in the Punjab Assembly was reflective of one salient point: at least in this case, the media was not the principal investigator or the initiator. It can hardly be expected to not report what it sees, just as it is duty-bound to listen to the other side and report it fairly. It was good then that the journalists sitting in the press gallery of the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday decided against a boycott of a session that consisted wholly of media-bashing.