The media noise -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

The media noise

Pakistan Press Foundation

It may be a sign of progress considering that the last time a government was under prolonged siege in the country, criticism lacked the intensity and urgency of today.

In fact, the intense media coverage of the current political situation involving the two sit-ins in Islamabad has resulted in the observation that all that was required to thwart a revolution was to switch off the television channels.

There are also complaints by people — not the politicians concerned — of partisanship by the media, thus relegating sensationalism to the status of a far lesser evil in the current discourse. There are news anchors who are accused of instigation and provocation, while some anchors make no secret of their presence among the protesters — as protesters.

In the now-forgotten past, journalists would scoff when they were accused by anyone of pushing an agenda. Today, a journalist walking around without an agenda could invite suspicion about his or her motives.

No wonder then that those defending their right to stay in power speak of the protesters and the media covering the march in the same breath. The government has magnanimously ‘allowed’ the people to protest and the government, the ministers tell us proudly, has ‘allowed’ the media coverage of the protest.

However, it is the same government which says that times have changed, and that the old methods to create hype are now doomed. It is clear that, as everyone comes to terms with new realities, there are going to be some journalists who might try too hard out of concern that they would otherwise fail to read the situation and commit the ultimate journalistic ‘mistake’ of not predicting, and effecting, change.

This urge is far too strong for many of them to adhere to ethics. But what is truly perplexing is the inability of media personnel to be chastened when their forecasts have turned out to be wrong. Ultimately, journalistic fare is determined by substance, and there is a difference between being crisp and unbearably loud.