Media is no NGO!

Following Hamid Mir’s shooting and Geo’s incredibly OTT reaction, the animosity of both, media outlets and public spilled out and a verbal war has ensued. Even those who criticise the army for its overbearing influence went overboard in proving that everyone should respect the integrity of the most prestigious institution of the country. It is still ongoing and God knows how long it’ll go on.

Since everyone has exhausted their efforts in condemning or supporting the channel, I won’t waste my breath, or in this case words, in commenting on whether Geo was right or wrong in blaming ISI without proof. What I do want to talk about is an assertion that has been reiterated again and again and again:

‘Hum ne hamesha haq or sachai k liye awaz buland ki hai. Hum ne awam ki bhalai k liye kam kia hai.’

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Now forgive me if I’m wrong, but is it really the media’s job to think about society’s welfare? Not once in four years during which I studied journalism, did any of my teachers ever tell me that it is my job to ‘serve my community’ as a journalist. Because, frankly, it is not.

Media outlets are not NGOs and journalists are not social workers. Their job is to deliver news, whether good or bad and while they are at it, they are not supposed to worry about the impact it will have on society. There are rules to be followed, of course, there are always limits, but when it comes to journalism, these lines are blurry.  A journalist is supposed to be unbiased. It’s the most important characteristic that he needs to possess. So a journo, who takes a ‘stand’ against or for anything, is simply not doing his job.

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Yes the media does play an important role in painting the picture of a society, especially in the contemporary era, where everyone has access to all sorts of information. That’s where the bias part comes in. Every media house in Pakistan, especially television channels, loves to show its viewers one side of the picture. The reports are full of sarcasm and spite. Character assassination and defamation have apparently become legal. It is useless to expect them to follow ethics when they don’t even obey the laws. The authorities can block YouTube to protect the vulnerable Muslims of Pakistan from a derogatory and insulting video but do not feel the need to put down an iron hand and stop television channels from disobeying the law and misleading the public.

If a channel or newspaper is taking sides and calling it the truth, then it hardly has any credibility. So when Geo, or any other channel claims that it has always stood up for the good of the society and has raised its voice for the ‘awam’ then sorry to say, but you have failed to do your job and you are definitely not eligible to be called a ‘source of news’. Where bias reeks in, journalism goes out the window.

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Sure it is! We just can’t see it under all that spice.

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