Mic, mobile, action!

Relevant form of media will have to devise strategies to safeguard its standard against unbitted unprofessionalism

M Nadeem Nadir June 17, 2024
The writer is an educationist based in Kasur. He can be reached at m.nadeemnadir777@gmail.com


Once, I was attending the prize distribution ceremony of my kids at their school that a man holding a microphone sought my comments on the ceremony. The microphone was attached to his cellphone, which he was using as a camera for recording. I spoke about two minutes on the importance of such ceremonies. He thanked me and departed.

Shortly, he returned to me and exclaimed that the whole interview was in English, whereas he was the reporter of an Urdu channel on social media. I sounded him out why he didn’t interrupt me when he was recording the comments. Without divulging the reason, he requested a retake, but this time in Urdu.

Every Tom, Dick and Harry with a microphone in their hand claim to be media-persons. They report to unregistered channels or run their own social media channels. Some simulate as correspondents to local newspapers that exist only online. They have neither rudimentary knowledge of ethos of journalism nor any scant expertise of its language. Rather, they bank on cliched wooden generalisations, flouting accuracy, integrity and objectivity.

In reality, they happen to be failures in their respective times and fields when and where they could have worked hard to be able in the future to leave an impact on the social landscape. Through the “absolute power” that media confers on them, they gain social prominence.

Through astroturfing they are vectors of a trust deficit between media and masses. They strut all around us brandishing their microphone, trespassing individual or institutional privacy. Sometimes, they blackmail people through their nuisance power as their focus is never on highlighting the social issues. All is done under the garb of citizen journalism whose power of real-time reporting with a sense of civic duty cannot be denied.

The actual concern is that nobody questions their credentials. These self-claimed reporters do it as a part-time hobby to achieve social nuisance. Some are failed students; some are private school owners; some run small businesses.

Perhaps it is the currency of the post-truth time; the fake is more potent than the genuine. The local newspapers and cable channels authorise the aspirants with their full backup in the form of their press cards, whereas one has to pass through a long series of levels of expertise to associate oneself to a national daily. The writers writing write-ups, op-eds and articles to national newspapers don’t enjoy as much social recognition as the dilettantes of non-paper communications do.

The relevant print and electronic media authorities at the national level must rein in the local media from maligning the role of journalism being the mouthpiece of the downtrodden. For the aspirants, there must be a minimum requirement of professional qualification – a diploma, a training course, or a certificate – from some certified institutions.

If the intention behind the creative outpourings is to earn money and fame overnight, the digital platform proves more lucrative. That’s why the youth seeking sinecures are attracted to opening their own YouTube channels, Vlogs and freelance portals. With shallow knowledge and a little skill to handle digital gadgets, they churn out packets of ersatz creativity.

In print media, the youth can’t bear the miscarriage of their creativity when their writings don’t get printed. In this age saturated with capitalistic pursuits, to do a creative endeavour gratis is to toil for the holy grail. Creative writing is never a waltz at all. Also, the readership of print media has shrunk ultra-thin as the electronic and social media have penetrated into the masses due to immediacy, freedom and recognition they offer.

The relevant form of media will have to devise strategies to safeguard its standard against unbitted unprofessionalism by these self-styled media-persons. To keep its popularity intact, the national print media will have to award recognition to its budding contributors through certified identity and financial stimulus.


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