The Pakistani media: Too competitive for its own good?
Karachi: The cut-throat competitiveness of the Pakistani media does not escape even the eye of those not so familiar with its pretty regular shenanigans.
That was the impression Terry Anzur and Linda Roth got when they recently visited the country to conduct a few workshops with local journalists.
A Stanford graduate, Anzur has spent nearly 30 years of her life in news broadcasting and is also a former faculty member of the University of Southern California’s journalism school. She now divides her time working for KFI radio and training journalists across the globe.
Roth, on the other hand, has spent her entire 26-year career at CNN and, for the past few years, has been associated as a producer with ‘The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer’.
Speaking to The News during their two-day visit to Karachi, both journalists shared their impression of the Pakistani media, especially with reference to attacks on media persons and the spasmodic control of news content.
Though both had been impressed by the visuals and sheer scale of the election coverage by electronic news channels, they were a little taken aback by what they euphemistically termed the competitiveness within the local media, as they feel it is way too enthusiastic for its own good.
“To me, the Pakistani media seems like a child with a lot of enthusiasm but not a lot of experience and one that the government has an impulse to regulate,” said Anzur. “It is good to have that much energy especially since the media, by definition at least, should be free and independent. However, this [the recent attacks on television anchors] has left the local media at the crossroads…will journalists regulate themselves or will the government have to step in, which again would be a big setback for free expression.”
Roth said journalists were still a little off-track in finding their way within the still-growing Pakistani media industry. “But there have to be bottom line standards which are maintained at all costs,” she said.
Both believe that media houses and their employees need to stop, take a breath and think about what direction they want to take. “Especially now that the elections are over, people have realised that there is no magic bullet here,” says Anzur, “The persisting problems — power, water and basic necessities — still remain as they were.”
They said the need for a few basic standards was all the more pressing in a country such as Pakistan, where everyday was a hard news day.
The quicker the media houses take a decision about this, the better it would be for their own sustenance.