Journalism losing in 'Seth vs State' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Journalism losing in ‘Seth vs State’

By Umer Nangiana

ISLAMABAD: The spirit of Journalism in Pakistan is at present lost somewhere in the struggle between ‘Seth vs State’, ratings wars and insensitive and inadequate use of languages.

This was the dominant view among eminent professionals associated with journalism at a roundtable on “Languages and Media: more freedom, less respect and tolerance”, organised by Citizens’ Media Initiatives and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German non-profit organisation.

A few participants, however, were optimistic about the state of media in Pakistan and opined that it would evolve out of its mistakes. “Viewers are already getting fed up with the 1+3 talk shows where emotions are deliberately incited,” said Harris Khalique, a well-known political analyst and writer. His views, however, were shared by only a few others.

Dr Moeed Peerzada, a talk show host, was particularly critical of the “industrialist owners of the broadcast groups” working to achieve their “vested interests”.

“Only two TV Channels, Geo and Express, are making profits while the rest are merely trying to catch up with them in the ratings wars,” he said.

He also coined the phrase ‘Seth Vs State’ to imply a struggle of governments to avoid exploitation at the hands of the ‘Seth’ – the businessperson who owns the media group. “The Seths are trying to take control of state affairs and use it to protect their own interests,” he said.

“Why would an editor, being instructed by the owner, be interested in practicing true journalism as long his interests were safe?” said Fauzia Shahid, a senior journalist.

Other senior journalists expressed their concern over the “insensitive use” of languages and the emergence of a blend of slang, in particular the mixture of English and Urdu employed by most radio stations.

Shabana Arif, a senior consultant at Rozan, a non-profit organisation, said the major portion of the Urdu press was not upholding journalistic and moral values while reporting issues of violence against women.

“There is a wide and unchecked use of insensitive words in reports related to issues such as gang rapes and police raids against prostitutes. Words like dosheeza, no-khaiz and no-umar are openly used merely to incite emotions,” she said.

She also talked about the carelessness of publishing photographs of victims without their consent. “This type of reporting could seriously hinder women from reporting crimes and contribute to restrict their movement.”
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:3/2/2011