June 29, 2012
Time for media accountability does not seem very away far as both journalists and the public are demanding for perusal. The demand seems to making an effect. The owners and major players must be scrutinised for honesty and transparency. The leaked video of a manipulated interview on U tube, which was aired by almost all channels, has brought to light the dangers of media manipulations. It’s an open secret now that media representatives take sides and are involved in the condemnable activity of promoting individuals and political parties under the influence of money and privileges. Individuals are groomed and promoted not only by the intelligence agencies, but also by political parties with the provision of presenting special reports and exclusives to make their personalities more prominent and shinning. Senior politicians often blame Media personalities for not paying their taxes regularly and evading huge amounts. Under the prevailing circumstances the media tends to lose the moral high ground to act as a watch dog and criticise state institutions and political personalities. The way out of this imbroglio is to establish a media body of honest journalists (excluding owners) comprising of representative of different sections of the society to formulate basic ethical standards for the working of the journalists. It is important that media be put under the spot light by the regulating body to ensure black sheep’s are not able to work and thrive in the new media culture.
Scrutiny of assets and their political affiliations, financial interests’ and investments would help a great deal for the public to analyse their views and news reporting. Biases in news production analysis if any would become more apparent and visible. A minimum standard also needs to be strictly enforced to ensure the sanctity of the press clubs are respected and not abused by members. These steps should be taken by the media representatives and senior members and not by the Government to ensure press freedom is not curtailed. Any move to gag or pressurise the media under the pretext of transparency would be detrimental for the growth of a health media. Majority of the media comprises of honest working journalists and have bravely performed their professional duties with great honesty. It’s the reputation of these working journalists which is at stake now and needs to be protected. The journalist’s community needs to make rules to decide whether a person who has just jumped into the news analysis profession and anchoring a political program can be classified as a journalist or not. A minimum qualification or work experience should be determined for the performance of the job.
With mutual agreement, the journalist community must say no, to accepting gifts from political parties and the Government. The culture of doling out plots to journalists should stop; other Government departments should also curb this activity. The plot culture is nothing more than institutionalising corruption. This practise is prevalent in all institutions of the country and is a means by the rich and powerful to collect more wealth. To clean the media it would be important for the political parties and the agencies to unite in national interest and promise not to bribe the media in the future. The influence of the major political parties and business groups tempts the media to forsake its high moral ground, fall to the level of a pimp, and promote stakes instead of supporting the public interest and the truth. The media on most occasions has managed to restraint neutrality but the recent episode, which compelled the Supreme Court to take immediate action and call the PEMRA head to explain its working (inaction) is a serious episode to ignore.