In the past seven days there were two stories which have compelled me to write this blog. When I saw these two stories I had to accept the fact that the media industry is really in its infancy in Pakistan and sometimes we can make such big mistakes which we can’t even correct even if we want.
First Mistake: The State Life Building Incident
I was live in the news bulletin when this unfortunate incident took place in Karachi. A young man was stuck on a burning floor of the building and he was desperately trying to save himself from the burning flames. He leapt out from the window and jumped from the 8th Storey. With all the cameramen from almost all the channels standing outside the building and their DSNG vans ready to show every minute and every second live, that unfortunate incident was bound to be captured by the cameramen but whose responsibility is it to decide whether this incident gets the coverage or not – It’s the producer at the studio. He is the man responsible for deciding who or what gets airtime on his channel. I am pleased to tell my readers this fact that even though our technical staff was present and we also had the footage of this incident, our channel decided not to air this incident. Some channels that were desperate for ratings weren’t as ethical kept showing the incident in loop and their news anchors kept shouting at the top of their voice that this is ‘exclusive’ footage that only their channel is showing it as if it was something to be proud of. Yes, the channel had captured the last minutes of a dying man and now they were selling death with all their force and vigor. My only question to the producer of that channel, how would you feel if your own son’s last minutes are continuously shown like this on the TV screens? Some other painful question to the media and their stakeholders: Did they ask the family members of that young man if they could show these images? How many cameramen came forward to help that man when he fell in front of them? What did PEMRA do to stop this insanity being repeatedly aired like that? The channels that made millions from the advertisements on the airtime for repeatedly showing those images, did they come forward to help the family of that young man? The very next day, a morning show host went to the family’s house and did a complete show with tears running down her face (A new trend in morning shows), how would she feel if someone would do a one-hour show in her house when a close family member passes away?
I have hundreds of such questions which I can post here but fact of the matter is that the media needs a watchdog to check its growing and uncontrollable power. We need to decide what we can and what can’t do. At the moment channels are being run on their own ethical checks, amongst them some are tightly implemented others not that much. I don’t expect the politicians to do this job because some of them either just too afraid to handle this powerful industry while others simply don’t care.
Second Mistake: Calling Mohammad Asif as the ‘World Snooker Champion’
First let me get this fact straight that Mohammad Asif is NOT the World Snooker Champion. He is the World ‘Amateur’ Snooker Champion. The world of snooker has two different circuits – The Amateurs and the Professionals. The amateurs are the ones who play without any monetary gains or rewards in sight while professional players are the ones who all over the world are considered as better players and they are rewarded with huge monetary benefits in the competition. All over the world sports analysts acknowledge that professional players are the cream of the sport. Mohammad Asif was crowned the best player amongst the amateurs but he still hasn’t faced the big boys from the professional league. Talking to Geo, even he said that now he is going to turn professional, meaning he also wants to now start playing the big boys. I am sorry to see that the Pakistani media got this horribly wrong. Each and every channel and newspaper branded him as the ‘World Snooker Champion’. The current world champion is Ronnie O’Sullivan and this can also be verified from various websites. Simply go to Wikipedia or Yahoo and write ‘World Snooker Champion’ and you will be directed to hundreds of international websites.
I have to share this with my readers that most of the sports desks in major channels and newspapers have journalists who have good knowledge about Cricket, Hockey and Squash but when it comes to other games, you will be shocked to see how misinformed they are. This is just one more example how they have reported this. I am in no way way trying to say that Asif’s achievement was in any way not worthy of praise but as journalists one should report with accuracy. If there is still any question left on the topic, this fact can be verified from Asif himself.