Several recent actions — or a lack thereof — in Pakistan and globally have sparked outrage at various media outlets. First, at home, as viewers watched a bank building in Karachi burn live on television, they also witnessed an apparently inactive cameraman as he captured a young man falling to his death from an eighth floor window. A state of shock immediately took over our country wondering why no person standing by or making a video of the event tried to help the struggling man. Perhaps, there is no explanation other than the sick idea that people were too engrossed in the suspense of the happenings to actually help.
Likewise was the case at a New York subway station where a cameraman captured a victim — pushed on to train tracks — looking for a way to manoeuvre himself back up on to the platform as a train approached to take his life. To be fair, maybe the photographer feared that the suspect responsible for pushing the man might also push him on to the tracks. Nonetheless, the photo was published and it is a sick fact, indeed. Finally, the third incident was the suicide of a UK nurse who received a prank phone call by two Australian radio jockeys inquiring about the health of the Duchess of Cambridge — resulting in a grave breach of patient-doctor confidentiality, which is taken very seriously in certain countries. These three events have left people all over the world questioning media ethics, while in our own developing country, it has led us to ponder what to do when we see someone in danger; do we blindly act like heroes and go in to help or do we assess our own safety first?
Sadly, in Pakistan, we are moving more towards steering clear of helping fellow countrymen in trouble because situations have become all too dangerous and we fear that we may be the next gun, bomb or kidnapping victim. Somehow, we need to restore trust and rid our country of the fear and cowardliness that it has been gripped with.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2012.
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