Book on media launched
By: Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui
KARACHI: Media Manzar, a book by senior journalist and poet Mahmood Shaam, was launched at the Karachi Arts Council on Tuesday.
Speakers at the launch said the book touched upon diverse media-related perspectives and redefined the media’s role in the saturated electronic and print media market.
“We are becoming media consumers in which the viewers have taken on a passive role and do not question the credibility of what is being shown on their TV screens,” said Zohra Yusuf, the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
She said the media had taken on a negative and dangerous role. She cited the incident of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder in which certain TV channels, newspapers and religious seminaries manipulated the debate and portrayed Mr Taseer as a blasphemer which led to his killing. She even discussed how the media itself had become a victim of intolerance leading to the murder of several journalists.
About the book, Ms Yusuf said each of its chapter was worthy of being extensively researched.
Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, director of the Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, painted a lively portrait of Mr Shaam’s personal and professional life through the use of lyrical vocabulary.
He spoke on the author’s family’s migration from Patiala, India, and then their journey through Lahore to Gujrat to Mandi Bahauddin and finally to Jhang. His professional career included stints at weekly Qindeel, Nawa-i-Waqt, Akhbar-i-Jahan, Musawat, Jang, ARY and finally Jahan-i-Pakistan, where he is the group editor.
Mazhar Abbas, director of current affairs at Express News, said there was a time when militants would cover their faces while speaking on TV channels. But what they considered as laanat, now considered it as taaqat. He also said that a section in the book discussed the role of intelligence agencies and certain pressure groups that acted as a big source for media persons. However there was a difference between a journalist and a spy, he cautioned.
“Media has now taken up the role of police and investigating agencies in which it reports a case and promptly passes a verdict,” said Mufti Muneebur Rehman, chairman of the Ruet-i-Hilal Committee.
He bemoaned the deterioration of Urdu particularly when tickers were flashed across different channels and pointed out that headline news invariably carried news about Bollywood.“I wish the media more freedom but the media has to work within our social, cultural and religious parameters,” said Mr Rehman.
Babar Ayaz, a journalist, highlighted the current media trends and rejected some of Mufti Rehman’s assertions.
“I had never thought that I would end up in journalism, rather I had planned to get a degree in philosophy and teach the subject in some college,” said Mahmood Shaam.
He compared the censorship policies of the past to the new press freedoms. He also bewailed the decline in the standard of Urdu.
He said the media owners and proprietors should also be educated and when anyone applied for a licence to launch a channel their experience in journalism, if any, should also be taken into account.