KARACHI: The race for breaking news, insensitive questioning and incorrect priorities – the oft mentioned criticism of the media in Pakistan was repeated on Wednesday, but backed with an analysis report produced by the research publication centre Uks in collaboration with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology Journalists, mass communication teachers and students stressed the need for educating and training journalists and their audience on the concept of media’s impacts and ethics.
The report titled, ‘Talking Back-II: From Passive to Provocative’, is the outcome of research on the media, media monitoring and analysis of content by students and faculty members of universities across the country, and aims to promote media literacy in Pakistan by building linkages between media and the public.
The chairperson of the department of Mass Communication at FUUAST, Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan opened the event with his short speech over accountability media and the significance of January 4, the day on which Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated. “In terms of media, accountability is the least ranked and the media does not like accountability on its part”.
Aazadi Fateh, a lecturer at the same department, gave a presentation on their research. According to Fateh, while the concept of media literacy is new in Pakistan, it has been highly developed in other countries. She defines media literacy as “Giving the audience the tools to protect themselves from the effects of media and giving them the courage to read the content more critically”.
She said that women in the workplace were happy at the media’s severe criticism of actors and politicians, adding that entertainment channels are viewed more than news channels.
According to Fateh, “Although the media has a positive impact on the audience, like increasing the knowledge, portrayal of culture and changing lifestyle, but at the same time it badly hits people through gender bias.” She backed this up with examples, including how “rape victims are shown the path of suicide at the end” or “a girl who left her house is often shown adopting immoral habits”. The use of language came in for criticism. Journalist Qaisar Mahmood said, “A journalist will ask a rape victim on a TV show ‘what happened to you?’ Most reporters do not care for the use of language and when you try to correct them they will say that we want to deliver the news in language that is easy to understand.”
Mahmood compared media organisations to vendors selling goods on public transport and footpaths and said electronic media violated ethics for the sake of breaking news stories first without checking facts. He cited a recent example of a man who was climbing a pole to steal a wire and television channels ran live footage of him, saying that he was attempting to kill himself.
Mahmood also highlighted that ratings of television channels only involve 750 people or so countrywide, and Balochistan is not even included in the process.
BBC News’ Wusatullah Khan called the report as a first step in a journey for media literacy.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2012.
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