The results of an online survey conducted by The Express Tribune revealed that most Pakistanis feel the local media spreads negativity, is sensationalist and is sponsored by political parties.
A total of 1,025 Pakistanis and expatriates participated in the online survey.
Respondents included a majority of those aged between 20-30 (61%) and 30-40 (21%). Males comprised 83 per cent of the total sample whereas journalists and media personnel constituted 13 per cent of total respondents, which sums up to approximately 133 people.
Some 68 per cent respondents felt that in general, “Pakistani media spreads negativity” whereas 67 per cent thought “the Pakistani media is sensationalist in nature” and 53 per cent felt that “the Pakistani media is sponsored by political parties.”
With regard to what media practices count as unethical, 65 per cent of the respondents felt that “Taking a photo/video of people in public” and “Receiving external funding for programmes/coverage” each counts as the most unethical practice whereas 61 per cent voted for “Interviewing rape victims.”
Only 2 per cent, that is only 20 – 21 people of the total sample felt that news is always reported responsibly in Pakistan. 38 per cent voted that news is ‘rarely’ reported responsibly in Pakistan and nine per cent felt it is ‘never’ reported responsibly in Pakistan.
The question of ethics and responsible reporting led to questioning the sample whether they had ever been offended by a news story or TV report and if they had ever made an official complaint or signed a petition against a media group.
With regards to the former, a large majority of 88 per cent, 902 people out of the total sample, said they had been offended by a news story or TV report.
For the latter, 68 per cent of the sample, 697 people, voted that they had never filed an official complaint or signed any petition against a media group. The remaining 32 per cent claimed to have taken action against offensive media.
A minority of five per cent, approximately 51 people, felt that the government was effectively regulating the media in Pakistan. For the free media Pakistan claims to have, this is a very insignificant number. A majority of 79 per cent voters felt that the government is not effectively regulating the Pakistani media, whereas the remaining 12 per cent were unsure. Of the nearly 810 people who felt the government is not effectively doing its job, 84 per cent were journalists.
Finally, the respondents were asked about the extent to which the news media influenced their opinions and actions. A mere three per cent of the sample felt that the media always influences their opinions. ‘Often’ and ‘sometimes’ had a close competition of 33 per cent and 36 per cent respectively. Of the sample that agreed that the media does influence their opinions, interestingly 38 per cent were journalists as compared to 32 per cent non-journalists. Also, those who consumed news for up to three hours per day were in the majority that claimed that the media shaped their opinions and actions.
[This is part one of a five-part survey. View a detailed breakdown of the Ethics & Credibility section of the survey. The remaining sections will be released over this week]
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2012.