Dozens of private TV channels are operating in Pakistan and in these private TV channels the news programs are specially famous among the whole nation. People who have any kind of access to the WWW or cable TV or have a dish in their homes will be watching these news channels and their talk shows.
Through these news channels we get true news which were very hard to know a few years ago because on State TV channels one cannot find news about the rest of Pakistan. On State TV whenever you tune in you will see the PM, or President or some minister defending their government or inaugurating some kind of road or shop or some thing else. After watching the news on State TV one can say that Pakistan is the most peaceful and developed country on face of the earth and we have the most honest and hardworking people in power.
Most people in Pakistan rely on private news channels for news but recently some news stories that we’ve been watching on these channels convey a feeling to the viewers that some of these channels are stubbornly unprofessional.
One story that got the attention of the whole nation was the repetitious video clip of the “breaking news announcement“ regarding the killing of five girls in Kyrgyzstan. This was made on a cell phone by two men who were dancing in the video. There was apparently a kind of “race” among these TV channels which we observed…. in terms of “who will break the news first” but with all this “breaking news” effects, these TV channels forgot to bring in some solid facts. This provides a chance for so-called “issues oriented” groups to start blaming religion and other irrelevant factors. And in this case they did it with complete emotional relish but they also seemed to forget that still there was no proof as to whether these girls were alive or dead. After the Supreme Court order to the Kyrgyzstan district authorities that would bring these girls to Court as soon as possible, and some visits from human rights activists and area officials, the media told us that the girls were brought forth and that meetings between the families took place, and that the girls had actually said that nothing had happened to them. And still the media which “broke” the news never produced any evidence to prove their story true.
Another issue which is now all the rage on the private channels, news and talk shows, and in all the major newspapers of the country… is the case of “Estate Tycoon Riaz Ahmed and the son of CJ Iftikhar” in which Riaz Ahmed says that CJ’s son took millions of rupees from him.
The interesting thing in this case is that the first time a case comes through mainstream media (you tube) it is already being handled by The Daily News Editor from USA. According to the News, Riaz Ahmed invited some journalists and showed them the evidence for these stories. But these journalists are now saying that Mr. Riaz did not hand over any copy to them and that Christina Lamb (Sunday Times reporter) will break the evidence. So our media without any solid facts took this one you tube interview completely seriously and now for a week all the TV channels have been debating and discussing the matter. The Supreme Court also took action and ordered the key players and all the associated journalists to appear in front of the Court with evidence… but then the journalists who appeared were told that evidence existed but not for their eyes.
Some sources are saying it’s a conspiracy against the Chief Justice in which all the established political parties are involved because the character of the Chief Justice would impinge on all these parties.
But in this case too the media without any proof broke the news and now their credibility is in jeopardy. TV channels must make and use a clear policy for ethical reporting and train their reporters on how to cover and report different incidents and events. Otherwise a few more cases like this will prove that TV channels are in a race of who will break the news first without proof of any valid story at all.