Seminar on Pakistan’s media: A cautionary tale

The final day of Carma showcased an engaging seminar with guests Huma Amir Shah and Kamran Shahid.

Maria Amir January 09, 2011

LAHORE: “Last year I interviewed an astrologer and she told me that 2011 would open with celebration and that things would be a lot better for Pakistan. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on TV,” says morning show host Huma Amir Shah.

The final day of Carma showcased an engaging seminar with guests Huma Amir Shah and Kamran Shahid. Former news caster and morning show host for Express 24/7 Huma Shah and author and Express TV show ‘Frontline’ host Kamran Shahid drew heavily from their personal experience.

“We must remember that the industry isn’t all about glitz and glamour.

The news business is a 24-hour run-a-round and it is a tough business,” Shah, who incorporates news and politics into her morning show, told the audience. “Now there are so many opportunities because students actually have media training,” she said, adding “but that also means that students now face a lot of competition.”

Huma Shah told the students that she had started out her media career with PTV but eventually felt that the immense restrictions and self censorship were not letting her grow as a journalist. “Private television has opened a lot of avenues for the truth and I managed to do shows on taboo subjects such as ‘homosexuality in Pakistan’,” she said adding, “ We had to do the entire show without mentioning the word ‘homosexual’ once but people understood what we were talking about. It taught me that our audience is astute and needs to be respected.”

Kamran Shahid spoke about the lack of attention paid to media ethics in Pakistan. “We need to realise that we bear a great responsibility of telling the people the truth but this is not happening.

The people are often lied to by all television channels in a race to boost ratings,” he said. Shahid said that there was an extremely thin line between a lie and a truth and that the Pakistani media had largely blurred this line by pandering to politicians.

He warned that any aspiring journalists should be cautious to avoid the traps and webs of lies spun by various groups and focus on telling people the truth.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2011.


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