Producers and nation building -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Producers and nation building

Pakistan Press Foundation

Dozens of talk shows are produced and hundreds of columns are written every day. Both the talk shows and the columns are opinion sections of journalism, possessing a key role in opinion making of the people as well of the policy makers. The talk show has become monotonous whereas the quality column is at a discount these days. The success of the talk show relies upon sensationalism, founded or unfounded criticism, and the spark of conflict between representatives of the political parties.

Similarly, the column today only sells when it contains the publicly washed linen and the inside stories of the politicians and the policy makers. It often contained non-literary language, common-place words, far-fetched references and perverted irony. Those who create the situation under any or all of the aforesaid features come out to be successful producers and columnists respectively. There is, however, no denying the fact that people sans policy makers also have a liking for such products, providing justification for the particular school of thought. Surprisingly, while displaying genuine, realistic and healthy analysis, in deviation from the set benchmarks, journalists may lose their slot on the screen or space on the opinion page, if he or she is unable to sell the product to the benefit of the organization. The organisation too, is compelled by circumstances to broadcast sellable products.

The question arises whether by virtue of their inbuilt mandate and capacity of opinion making, the producers or the columnists can transform the opinion of audience or organisation to entertain the visionary aspect of talk shows and the columns as components in nation building?

The talk show in general and column in particular is rapidly losing its credibility, especially in its guiding role to the state organs in their process of policy making. It has to support their constructive policies and point out drawbacks in various policies initiated or being initiated by the major organs of the state including legislature, judiciary and particularly the executive, through healthy and constructive criticism and not destructive criticism. Today, the talk show and the column are solely known for criticism and fun. Though, with many genuine exceptions, generally the producer, co-producer, coordinator, the sub-editors etc are not socially, economically and above all professionally groomed. It is not their fault, and the factors lie somewhere else.

Leaving aside for a while the salary package which is commonly poor everywhere in public as well as private sectors, the other aspects such as capacity building, including scholarships within and without the country, knowledge base and exposure to working and functioning of various public, semi-public and private departments is, perhaps, not chosen as a priority. The producers and the sub-editors are the true key players behind the scene who can guide and direct the front men, i.e, anchor and the columnist to propel their constructive criticism and vision to the state functionaries in formulation, implementation, feedback, rectification and reimplementation of the policies. But this key role can only be performed when the producers and editors are fairly equipped with the necessary guiding capacity and the tools. They may truly be a lynch-pin between the public and policy makers. They have to examine both the wishes of the people and the opposition at one hand and the constraints of the policy makers and the process of nation building on the other. It is the leadership of the day who has to decide policies wherein these producers can have an effective role.

A school of thought amongst the anchors and the columnists follows the norms of delivering a crispy, spicy, light and funny talk show/column, but both the audience and the policy makers cannot be left unguided and groping in the dark under mere criticism devoid of any vision and roadmap suggested by the producers, editors, anchors and columnists. Today, at the end of the talk show or the column, the viewer and the reader can say that he has got a spicy, funny pictorial of the circumstances but the producer or the columnist would not fairly be able to answer what he wanted to say or communicate in his show or column.

The second school of thought believes in seriousness, healthy analysis, opinion making and a guiding role of a talk show and the column towards the public as well as policy makers. Admittedly, this school of thought sometimes seems to gone too far in its serious texture. The best way is, undoubtedly, to reconcile the aforesaid two schools of thoughts, which rarely is achieved.

Perhaps, to fill this gap, various producers and columnist associations are appearing in the field, which is a welcome move. The services of the founders of such associations are highly appreciated. However, it would all depend upon their manifestos, objectives and their practical measures behind their association to see if they come up successful in achieving their actual role in the process of policy making and nation building.

In quest of my longing wish to have a body of the key players to bridge the gap between the policy makers and the media, whilst being amongst the honorary guests including Salman Abid and others in their election campaign, I felt inspired to see around 615 producers in the throes of electing their leadership. They are going to elect their leadership from amongst the two major contesting panels—Producers Panel and the Progressive Panel. With little difference in their respective manifestos revolving around the socio-economic welfare of the producers, the decisive role would be played by their actions and not the words. The basic objective which should prevail is grooming of the member producers in their performance, capacity building through scholarships and international visits as part of government, law, trade and diplomatic delegations in various walks of state. All this grooming can, above all, play a decisive role in preparing the producers to offer their mandatory role in policy making and nation building.  And people like us, having been a part of policy making, can offer the winning team of producers integration with the policy makers to evince true and genuine public policies in the best interest of nation building.

The Nation