The Maya Khan issue was waiting to erupt sooner or later, and I am glad it did. At least now people, and hopefully the media authorities, will realise that the attitude of “in the media everything goes” is wrong. Limits, rules and regulations should be enforced, and content should be screened. Interestingly, it took Maya Khan’s gang raiding a public park to make people understand that certain important limits are being ignored. But this is not the first or the last time limits have been crossed. This happens all the time in the electronic media, mainly because many people in this field have learned that sensationalism sells, even that bordering on yellow journalism.
True ratings are extremely important. But to give the viewer some credit, viewers now know what they want to see. They have formed their own opinions of news they want to watch and therefore, only follow those channels they have acquired a taste for. No amount of cheap shenanigans on other channels will get their attention.
It must be said that Maya Khan’s “park” show was also based on the popular demand of women writing in, as Maya said at the end of the show. If so, such shows should be shown on the entertainment channels catering to the viewers’ demand, and not on serious news channels.
Private TV channels are relatively new in Pakistan, which is why they are still evolving. That is why this industry has had to absorb a large number of untrained people who are thrust into the field without being given guidelines, and therefore they learn as they go along.
We must understand that not everyone who is working in “the media” is a journalist, and Maya Khan and a number of other anchorpersons are not journalists in the true sense of the word. They are not aware that their job is not only about ratings, but that those in the media are important role models for society, especially a society like ours which largely lacks role models. They are unaware of the responsibility they carry on their shoulders, which goes beyond that of imparting information to the viewer.
For many in this field, the “press card,” which is a badge of honour for this honourable profession, is a weapon that not only protects them but also opens many doors for them, making their lives easier in numerous ways.
Many media persons appear to lack the concept of privacy and boundaries; they have no idea that there are limits to a story being covered, no matter how important that story is. One is shocked at times to see reporters thrusting their mikes into the faces of grieving families, and sometimes victims of some crime, even of rape. Unfortunately, “prying” is an integral component of our society, which is why many of the victims and their families seldom restrict the media from covering their private moments of grief and are seen replying to the questions posed to them. In large part this is because they think that the media will help project their plight to the authority and they will get help, and often they do succeed.
Recently, a couple of female anchorpersons were seen screaming and shouting at rapists and murderers, which didn’t go very well with their professional personae. Showing emotions when exposed to extraordinary stories is only human, but hogging the limelight – which is what this kind of behaviour amounts to – instead of focusing on the story is unprofessional and reveals lack of training and exposure.
It is time media persons, especially anchors, are trained on how to do a story well, and, please, without theatrics.