William Bernbach, an American advertising professional once said “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society, we can brutalize it, or we can help lift it to a higher level.” Pakistani media, it seems, currently is in the process of finding out its coordinates in light of this statement. Our media is yet to graduate to a level where it discusses ideas and concepts for a better Pakistan because it expends most of its energy discussing trivial current issues by the politicians.
It is a pity that a robust economy and society of 180 million people is held back by a handful of families and personalities and the media currently on the contrary, engages these same very people to offer solutions to the problems that they themselves have created – what a disservice to society!
Indeed if the media of Pakistan continues at the trajectory on which it is currently moving, its only contribution will be to expedite the deterioration and decadence that is already evident in our society today. The marginal quality of reporting coupled with lack of proper investigation and authentication prior to declaring something as a “breaking news” has already started eroding the respect and credibility of our media.
Pakistani media has been vigilant in digging out issues of mismanagement, corruption, misuse of power and criminal wastage of resources of our country, ghost schools, water and electricity crisis, neglected health care issues, steep inflation of various day to day commodities etc – all are under scrutiny. Media’s recent role in taking the lead in helping and reaching out to the flood devastated victims is no doubt commendable too.
But let us delve in the recent past and take a glance to glean some of the things where media could have exercised deeper rationale and a bit more restraint; like the coverage of the lawyers movement trying to rekindle the flame of justice. Media, particularly the electronic media pursued their cause relentlessly harping their tunes constantly and indulging in immense hero worship thus ignoring some of the important facts and creating a false perception that all public worries will be no more as this will ensure an all encompassing powerful reformation system which will give immediate relief to the already grievous common man.
Media at times raises false expectations and triggers such flash points which should be carefully avoided, especially in these volatile times, where we have very few friends but plenty of foes. Media has to exercise due caution and objectivity in the smallest of affairs. We live in times, where back breaking inflation, rampant unemployment, scarcity of basic civic necessities and maimed law and order are part of our lives. Where half the population is illiterate and solely looks up to the media for guidance and solutions they long for in the absence of a fostering and nurturing state sensitive to the needs of its people.
Media’s role and responsibility increases manifold under such circumstances and to maintain its credibility and optimum output in rebuilding the society, it’s role is not merely of a critique but an opinion maker. Issues like law and order and the drone attacks etc need to be addressed with utmost prudence and caution as emotions are high, and situations are further aggravated due to lack of thorough understanding of the matters and their repercussions.
Lastly, media needs to be innovative and forthcoming in providing a platform to the people of Pakistan, where core problems at grass root level are presented along with their viable solutions. Such programmes which offer get-togethers for tried and tested politicians, academicians and civil servants etc who have nothing to offer except blaming the system and each other should be done away with. Discussion forums of talented people, young or old, striving towards the progress of Pakistan need to be channelized properly thus creating a new stream of enlightened and able leadership.
Media needs to guide and influence the public in such a way as to catalyze this process of prompting a much needed mind set shift which offers a purgation and transformation on both individual and national level. But for this media has to strictly guard its vigil. – Amna Iqbal