The media has come to play an increasingly bigger role in all our lives. Television channels and the anchorpersons working for them are present in an increasing number of living rooms, invited in simply through the click of a button on a remote control; news bulletins blare out everywhere and are available over mobile phones and computers. As a result, there has been an obsession with the news and all that it contains. Endless discussions continue along the lines of the themes laid out, with news organisations setting the agenda for news by determining what we are interested in and what should capture our attention. Not surprisingly then, many issues that we should be concerned about go unnoticed and uncommented on for the most part. There are a large number of stories out there that we never get to hear about, even though they may have a potentially important effect on our lives in social, economic and political terms.
However, there is another more pressing matter at hand. The reliability of the news we hear and the integrity of those who present it is coming under serious scrutiny. There have been recent incidents, which testify to this. Well over 10 days after the news about the Kohistani jirga’s sentence first broke out, we still do not know how authentic the whole matter is nor have we learnt of the plight of all five women. Some months ago, the video of couples dating in parks made headlines and created quite a stir. It later transpired that the whole story was apparently nothing more than a hoax. The same can probably be said of many other cases. We simply do not know if what we are seeing on the screen, or even reading in print, is indeed the reality.
The situation must not be taken lightly. It needs to be assessed and analysed given the impact that the media has on setting patterns of thinking and establishing images of various institutions. It seems obvious that we need, at the very least, a code of conduct for the media and possibly tougher rules from the authorities concerned to penalise those who violate all norms of honesty. If this does not happen we will continue to be misled and misinformed.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2012.