In today’s whirl pool of events, Media plays a crucially important role in the development of the Pakistani society, but the question prevails, is Pakistani media a Lapdog or watch dog? Or is just an illusion of surveillance and awareness in the garb of journalistic reporting.
What is more important is to know that media in today’s arena is like a two-pronged or a two-chambered weapon. The effective reporting, the credential journalistic writing and the portrayal of right data and facticity in content helps society prosper and flourish, whereas, the malady-stricken reporting or the yellow journalism is imperative to only bring about more chaos followed by devastating surge of mayhem.
Aim of media:
There are about several fundamental roles of media, which includes, “creating awareness”, “strengthen the society”, “generate a public opinion”, “Surveillance” and most importantly “supporting democracy”.
It is the pivotal for the media, either be it social media, or print media or electronic media to fulfill its social responsibility of authentic and credible reporting.
The Pakistani media has been enjoying and privileging upon freedom of speech/ freedom of expression for more than a decade or so, after its liberalization back in 2002, many private television channels bloomed in and flourished. Earlier, there was only state run television, but with the advent of media reforms and privatization, a lot has changed, a lot had to change.
According to media theory of uses and gratification, the masses apparently seek media to gratify or manifest their needs. There are five basic needs that the viewer expects the media to cater, a) enhance knowledge, b) relaxation, c)social interactions/companionship and importantly d) diversion, or escape. If the media manifests any of these, the viewership would stay intact or rather increase. Keeping it in mind if you analyze Pakistani media, the trend of Talk shows, morning shows, one hour debate-analyses format programs, soaps, enactments, all of these are based on the cardinal concepts of UST. It wouldn’t be wrong to reckon here that the trend of TRP has also emerged and reared as a result of privatization of media channels and the working agenda of each channel to gratify its audiences humanly instincts or needs.
The media is also known as the mirror to a society. For, it casts the shadow of a society as it really is, its values, core morals, ideologies and motives. It is a matter to be dealt with sheer sensitivity in order to represent a well-portrayed and well-displayed Pakistan’s image on the world forum.
The positive aspects of Pakistani media can surely not be neglected either, the media has played a vital role in creating awareness amongst masses about various fatal ailments and crimes by producing strong public service messages or campaigns like ‘Polio’ , ‘HIV’, ‘Birth control’ , ‘road safety’ etc, also it has created a massive surge of self-awareness or the awareness of personal-individual-rights by producing some apex quality drama serials focusing upon societal issues and such conditions.
The imposed dilemma:
The Pakistani media has played a crucial role in reshaping and rejuvenating the society and its pillars but somewhere between just or fair reporting and excessive practice of Freedom of expression the media somehow seemingly has fallen prey to violations of the national integrity of Pakistani society. The media channels are performing dysfunctional duties due to a lack of serious gate-keeping, which is a necessity, to filter out any sort of chaos inducing, hysteria constructing or hate mongering data/content. The media today is more focused upon the element of exaggeration, most commonly known as ‘sensationalism’ in order to attain the so called electronic supremacy and viewer-eyeballs.
The huge media conglomerates seem to be scattered between differences of opinions, they seem to be divided on prominent issues and subject matters, there is a fierce battle or word of war between the channels, telecasting, in form of their various show formats. Every channel has an agenda, a policy, all the content is based on that very agenda, it seems like today’s media has a personal agenda over national agenda or national interest which why the society seems to be drifted apart, trembling into chaos and anxiety. In order to cater ‘the first to inform policy’, most of the times the media fails its audience’s trust, and draws them under the dark hues of malicious content drenched with lies and propaganda. Moreover, an extremist trend in the media can be observed, the channels, the news papers, have extremist views over some or all subject matters, views that are instilled into the masses without focusing on the aftermath of the venomous content onto the society, holistically. The extremist trends are also being adopted in order to gain and then re-gain the TRP’s and viewership, and in a way to do so sensationalism is welcomed with open arms and surely a myopic sight by the Pakistani media.
‘People think how the media wants them to think’.
Noam Chomsky in his book Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media, 1988, immensely focused on how media manufactures public consent or public will through various techniques. He also argued on the effects of media on the functions and roles of democracy. How thoughts and opinions are delicately manufactured and masses are acutely imposed to root for ideas that the media giants or media agencies want, instead of their own. Also, in this theory, he developed a propaganda model, consisting of five filters. He argues that propaganda is to democracy/ state and its institutions, what cancer is to human body.
If we keep Chomsky’s theory of manufacturing consent in mind, it is not wrong to say that Pakistani media is somewhat trying to manufacture the public consent in the present days, against the most eminent and prestigious institutions of the country, in order to satisfy the elite actors, it is wrecking Pakistan of its national stability and cohesion.
- Establishment of self-regulatory mechanism, in order to filter out unauthentic data and improve journalistic reporting standards.
- Strengthening the investigative reporting cells, in order to add more brevity and authenticity to the content with factual supporting details.
- Community radios or community channels in order to keep the masses uniform and infuse a sense of oneness; this would help eradicate the terror-inducing factors.
- Landing rights to channels of different countries must be given after detailed analysis or the possible aftermaths on the Pakistani masses. For Eg, Afghan channels, Turkish channels, Indian channels.
- There must be an element of financial fine on the channel producing propaganda against state intuition or any malicious content misleading the masses, so that the journalistic reporting can be brought back to its sole duty of truth bearing.
- The government must give the journalist some sort of security when reporting in a difficult area, so that the journalist stays true to its duty and no botheration is experienced in free flow of data. Sense of ownership is important when it comes to channeling the loyalties.
- The backward or far flung areas are to be given proper right to be heard. This would prevent sense of deprivation and reduce chaos.
- The media must work its way and come to the terms with the state and its intuitions, with the mutual co-operation the goal of national stability can’t be manifested.