Say No to Corporate Media

So it’s been a while since I last chose to share a few words with you folks. Sorry for that and hopefully you folks will respond kindly to my following entry.

Let me get straight to the point. We already know that Pakistan’s news media plays slave to its corporate interests. The aftermath of Saad Khan’s unfortunate death, if anything, only cemented the assertion that whatever makes news channels garner more viewer-ship and/or sell more copies of their news papers, is exactly what their anchormen and columnists will pitch in their talk shows and columns. And nothing else.

And what makes this practice all the more dangerous, in case of Pakistan (not withstanding the fact that we’ve essentially adopted paranoia as a state policy) is the fact that Pakistanis have started basing their threat perceptions (local and regional), on what these news channels report or what their favorite columnist states – without ever thinking or making a conscious effort at trying to acquire more facts or even points of view before making up their mind.

Most, rather all of us, are very much aware of the fact that the American public got played by their corporate media and their government into waging a war on Iraq based upon fallacious, misleading and downright doctored reports of presence of WMDs in that country. And how the entire exercise backfired on them.

And yet, when our own TV channels and newspapers try to ‘doctor’ our very own threat perceptions, we’re almost always eager to fall for the same bait. Why?

Think that’s not the entire truth?

  • Well, tell me then, how is it that at one hand the media can get their hands on a ‘secret’ letter sent to Interior Ministry by the US ambassador to Pakistan (refer: US ambassador Anne Patterson’s letter to Rehman Malik, asking for a NOC for weapons of illegal bore being acquired by “Inter-Risk” a local security agency tasked with the security of certain American personnel and missions). And at the same time, have comprehensively failed, in the last 2 years, to publish the entire list of Red-Mosque students who perished in Operation Silence? The numbers of which, according to most of the reports emerging in the local media, is in thousands. Hint: What sells more?
  • How is it that Hamid Mir, in his weekly columns, every other week – writes about alleged XE (previously Black Water) personnel openly brandishing automatic weapons in the capital city of Islamabad, threatening locals with impunity? And yet we don’t see a single news channel attempting to locate and actually ‘video-tape’ or ‘photograph’ these personnel? If they’re really out there in the open, walking or driving down our streets, what’s stopping the mainstream media from openly disclosing their presence? I can only think of two reasons:
    1. Either the local media is actually a party to the crime and is actively responsible for hiding their presence.
    2. OR

    3. They’re trying to garner more viewership for their channels and more sales for their newspapers by playing on our threat perceptions. Whilst no such threat actually exists.

This is not to suggest, that their assertion is essentially ‘wrong’. Specifically since in the aftermath of the leak of the letter from the US ambassador to Rehman Malik, the government acted by raiding the offices of Inter-Risk.

But that if such a threat actually exists, why do they spend thousands of hours ‘talking’ about this issue. When they can always set up an investigative team, tasked with capturing these folks on film, thus actually putting something concrete on the table.

From where I see it, they don’t do it because XE or no XE – the media doesn’t care as long as it can get the largely unsuspecting population to believe what IT HAS TO SAY. Our national security policy is essentially being tailored by news channels, or so it seems.

I might be wrong on both counts, so I’d really like to know as to what do you folks have to say about this?

  • Pingback: Pakistani media()

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Pakistani media’s corporate interests and our threat perceptions | Abdullah Saad -- Topsy.com()

  • Very sensibly written. Thank you for being a voice of reason in so much hyped-up melodramatic reporting. Hopefully you’ve changed some people’s minds with your article. Very nicely done!

  • Very sensibly written. Thank you for being a voice of reason in so much hyped-up melodramatic reporting. Hopefully you’ve changed some people’s minds with your article. Very nicely done!

  • Pingback: Pakistani media’s corporate interests > Abdullah Saad | Teeth Maestro()

  • As usual great post – the strong media aggression in an ideal world is the fundamental mixture to a progressive and dynamic society – but in Pakistan throw a short dab of corruption and a shatters-we-go.

    My outlook to this media is that since its launch a few years back it has progressed – we went through the bloody gore of May 12 that it learnt not to show a bleeding man live on TV to a little tamed down shows – internationalization does sell big but if you notice the crap generally gets shrugged aside – Geo . Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan are still an exception – but with time others more responsible journalists will come – we hope that with a reinforced judiciary and a dynamic media it will provide the sufficient balance to our rampantly corrupt leaders.

    As far as BlackWater > it may seem innocently a media hype, but in reality 1000 marines and a free hand to teh Americans to do what they please – is something id like to keep a VERY CLOSE EYE ON, if this turns out to be hot-air – the consiqentiatl pressure is good on the Americans to do no harm – I would rather want have all these people out > we do not want to become the 52nd state of the US / with plans for the biggest US Embassy – we are perfectly set to become one and a 1000+ marines and a hundred or so Humvees in their support they are enough to take over Islamabad, > the next 1999 type martial law take over???

    For the sake of Pakistan stand up and show them the door back to Washington

    • Saad

      I essentially agree with the bit of keeping up the pressure on the Americans, but in the due process we’re handing over issues specifically pertaining to our perception about national security, into the hands of these fellas – which is something – that is deeply discomforting for me. Given the fact, that such leverage, has been abused in the past and will be done in the future.

  • As usual great post – the strong media aggression in an ideal world is the fundamental mixture to a progressive and dynamic society – but in Pakistan throw a short dab of corruption and a shatters-we-go.

    My outlook to this media is that since its launch a few years back it has progressed – we went through the bloody gore of May 12 that it learnt not to show a bleeding man live on TV to a little tamed down shows – internationalization does sell big but if you notice the crap generally gets shrugged aside – Geo . Hamid Mir and Kamran Khan are still an exception – but with time others more responsible journalists will come – we hope that with a reinforced judiciary and a dynamic media it will provide the sufficient balance to our rampantly corrupt leaders.

    As far as BlackWater > it may seem innocently a media hype, but in reality 1000 marines and a free hand to teh Americans to do what they please – is something id like to keep a VERY CLOSE EYE ON, if this turns out to be hot-air – the consiqentiatl pressure is good on the Americans to do no harm – I would rather want have all these people out > we do not want to become the 52nd state of the US / with plans for the biggest US Embassy – we are perfectly set to become one and a 1000+ marines and a hundred or so Humvees in their support they are enough to take over Islamabad, > the next 1999 type martial law take over???

    For the sake of Pakistan stand up and show them the door back to Washington

    • I essentially agree with the bit of keeping up the pressure on the Americans, but in the due process we’re handing over issues specifically pertaining to our perception about national security, into the hands of these fellas – which is something – that is deeply discomforting for me. Given the fact, that such leverage, has been abused in the past and will be done in the future.

  • MB

    [Saad ]
    i recommend you to check the program on second day of EID in which media and its role has been discussed. It was the only program in history when TOP media GUNs (Hamir Mir,Kamran Khan,Shahid Masood,Iftikhar Ahmed) were present in one program.

    I am asking you to watch it (if you havnt) as it answers your questions very much.

    But if you still think they dont, i shall do so IN DETAIL here.

    [AWAB]
    I recommend you to watch that program as well.

    MB

    • Saad

      Do post the link, Sir. I’ve not seen the program.

      • MB

        Saad / Awab,

        LINK muje bi nai mil raha yar nai toh you know i always post a link when i make a reference.

        I searched alot but failed to find es liye kaha ki you wath it (search at your end i mean) and do post the link to me as well.

        I guess i shall post a detail reply shortly !! :)

      • Here is a link to the show:
        Kehney Main Kiya Harj Hai – Sept 22, 2009

  • MB

    [Saad ]
    i recommend you to check the program on second day of EID in which media and its role has been discussed. It was the only program in history when TOP media GUNs (Hamir Mir,Kamran Khan,Shahid Masood,Iftikhar Ahmed) were present in one program.

    I am asking you to watch it (if you havnt) as it answers your questions very much.

    But if you still think they dont, i shall do so IN DETAIL here.

    [AWAB]
    I recommend you to watch that program as well.

    MB

    • Do post the link, Sir. I’ve not seen the program.

      • MB

        Saad / Awab,

        LINK muje bi nai mil raha yar nai toh you know i always post a link when i make a reference.

        I searched alot but failed to find es liye kaha ki you wath it (search at your end i mean) and do post the link to me as well.

        I guess i shall post a detail reply shortly !! :)

      • Here is a link to the show:
        Kehney Main Kiya Harj Hai – Sept 22, 2009

  • MB – link please if possible

    • Doc,
      Please look above

  • MB – link please if possible

    • Doc,
      Please look above

  • Very well written Saad. I too had done a piece titled “Deadly Corporate Media Sovereignty” back in September last year.

    http://ammar360.com/2008/09/28/deadly-corporate-media-sovereignty/

    We need to find a way out of this mess of a media we have today.

    • Saad

      The American media got a rude shock, after bloggers took it upon themselves to verify ‘information’ being depicted by TV/Print media as ‘facts’. One of the anchors on CNN was even made to let go, if I remember it correctly.

      I strongly believe, that given the absolutely fabulous amount of active bloggers that we’ve, here in Pakistan, we can very much replicate that model.

  • Very well written Saad. I too had done a piece titled “Deadly Corporate Media Sovereignty” back in September last year.

    http://ammar360.com/2008/09/28/deadly-corporate-media-sovereignty/

    We need to find a way out of this mess of a media we have today.

    • The American media got a rude shock, after bloggers took it upon themselves to verify ‘information’ being depicted by TV/Print media as ‘facts’. One of the anchors on CNN was even made to let go, if I remember it correctly.

      I strongly believe, that given the absolutely fabulous amount of active bloggers that we’ve, here in Pakistan, we can very much replicate that model.

  • Sadaqut

    In fact, there were numerous programs on the same topic in Eid days (even though none of them yield any result) … I saw at least three, one of them is mentioned above … another was “off the record” with Kashif Abbasi, Hamid Mir, Talat Hussain, Naseem Zehra and Qamar uz Zaman Kaira (recommended), and the other was “No reservations” at Dawn news with Ayesha Aslam, Talat Hussain and some lady from Indus news.

    • Saad

      What was their logical conclusion?

    • I gave link to one of the shows above. Here is a link to Off the Record:
      Off the Record – Sept 22 2009

      “No Reservations” can be found here
      (But isn’t it a “lifestyle” show?)

      • Sorry — that is not a link to “no reserations” but just an intro. DawnNews only has two episodes on i’ts site but not the one with Talat

  • Sadaqut

    In fact, there were numerous programs on the same topic in Eid days (even though none of them yield any result) … I saw at least three, one of them is mentioned above … another was “off the record” with Kashif Abbasi, Hamid Mir, Talat Hussain, Naseem Zehra and Qamar uz Zaman Kaira (recommended), and the other was “No reservations” at Dawn news with Ayesha Aslam, Talat Hussain and some lady from Indus news.

    • What was their logical conclusion?

    • I gave link to one of the shows above. Here is a link to Off the Record:
      Off the Record – Sept 22 2009

      “No Reservations” can be found here
      (But isn’t it a “lifestyle” show?)

      • Sorry — that is not a link to “no reserations” but just an intro. DawnNews only has two episodes on i’ts site but not the one with Talat

  • farrah shah

    Finally a real dialogue taking place.

  • farrah shah

    Finally a real dialogue taking place.

  • Pingback: Pakistani Media’s Corporate Interests and Our Threat Perceptions « The Critic Blog()