Home / Interview / Journalism depicts sectarianism and passing through an age of agenda: SM Zafar

Journalism depicts sectarianism and passing through an age of agenda: SM Zafar

SM Zaffar says National journalism is confused about terrorism, we are unaware on what is right and what is wrong for our sovereignty

Only a well-informed society can have democracy, it is impossible without it

Journalists’ protection law should prevail in Pakistan

9-point lecture on Pakistan journalism with critical approach

By Raheel Anwar

By Raheel Anwar
By Raheel Anwar

LAHORE: Known lawyer, writer and senator SM Zaffar has said, ‘a question mus-m-zafar-webst arise in our minds, why journalism is now being considered as Fourth Estate? Because, according to the Constitution a check and balance is present among other three pillars but beyond the constitution boundaries of state which check and balance is present between government and civil society?

He was addressing the media students at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab.
The Educationist newspaper scanned the whole text of his lecture and complied it in the form of
‘The Educationist Lesson’ for the media students across the country. However, it is equally important for the people from all walks of life. Following are the details of Mr. SM Zaffar’s special lecture:
It is only “media and journalism” through which government can be criticized effectively. Therefore, it is being supposed to conduct tolerance and precautions, are necessary for the government and it must be acknowledged that journalism and would remain opponents to each other.
Journalism has to conduct such investigation to explore profiteers and expose them to their society and let it know whether government is functioning effectively or not? Because in adverse system, it always defend itself for its proper functioning and does not signify any patience, eventually journalism has to face many troubles.
Our journalism lacks in bravery while it is a crucial aspect due to presence of our unpleasant societal system, opponents, also for honesty and for journalism as profession. In its absence and without having the spirit to spoke his voice heart-out, a journalist is not considered a competent journalist.
In the present era, it’s complicated to adopt truthfulness in journalism since, it is operating on an agenda, and as a result there is a sense of competition between honesty and agenda. We are here to criticize the present scenario of journalism in Pakistan:

Following important point were discussed by Senator SM Zaffar:

First, our journalism is passing through a very complex age; I will call it the “age of agenda”. Unfortunately, media outlets are operating on an agenda instead of speaking and seeking truth. We can easily access, in whose favour a journalistsm-zaffar-1-web is actually writing? We can tell a particular columnist is favoring someone without reading it. Why this agenda has been imposed on us? The answer is that all media is under control, there are many views in this regard but I say, it’s under individual control in the form of families’ control and the government’s control to obey it. Being journalists in Pakistan, getting rid of this evil of agenda must be our first priority.

Secondly, if we try to pass through the problem of agenda, then there is another hindrance called “Editor”. According to an intellectual, editor publishes evils by separating it from good. A journalist supplies true events, but if an editor does not like them, the reporter will distract from real subject due to pressure from the editor and fear of exclusion from organization. He will start trying to follow the agenda of the Editor or policy of the newspaper. Finally, real facts wouldn’t be seen and vanished.

Thirdly, the presence of “electronic media” is another dilemma as it has thrive over print media. Both mediums are concentrated in one hand that is called vertical monopoly. At the same time, a newspaper has its three to four TV channels and various magazines, ultimately there are monopolies of some media corporations. BBC and CNN do not have any newspaper or magazines under their custodies, news casters working in these large media corporations do not serve themselves anywhere else.

Fourth, a very hurting element is “sectarianism” which generally prevails in religion. At present, about 60 to 70 channels in action also depict sectarianism. It can be observed, for instance, if ABC channels’ camera man is misbehaved by someone, this channel will speak about this event with great extent, but other channels will talk about it by saying camera man of “a private channel”. Similarly, a news of a seminar conducted by any newspaper will be published in it, but will not be reported by other papers. This attitude of the media outlets can be referred as “sectarianism”. So, we have to compete with its rapid penetration in journalism.

Fifth, “The first glance at news”, is also a matter of great concern, a realization to be the first disseminator of news is not necessary rather than to report it truly. I believe that in future there will be some anchor persons from you people (media students) in television channels to conduct talk shows. In Pakistan, talk shows are actually debates; unfortunately, they are large in numbers that people also have become tender of them. Ratings regarding these talk shows have also been started to know which show has more viewership. It has been explored that the more quarrels the more viewership or rating will be.

Sixth, I can monitor in past journalists didn’t carry out investigating reporting; however, at present age there is more investigating journalism. Now what does mean by investigating journalism is to get access to information or to identify real facts behind these information to connect them with readers. A famous international proverb in this regard is, “there is an overwhelming information and deficiency of knowledge”. To be familiar with events is information and to search that why does it so? What are the actual causes behind the events? Still you may don’t know what “offshore companies” are because our journalists merely investigated information but didn’t investigate knowledge. Your aim should be to inform public through both dimensions. Only a well informed society can have democracy, it is impossible without it.

Our large media corporations should serve themselves to really investigate the issues, rather to only depend on information. Like, they should investigate what are offshore companies? What is their history? Why these companies are established? By sending their own journalist there. On the other side, it is common perception that owners of media corporations do not favor their journalists, if they are in troubles from governments. Therefore, they do not carry out their effective duties.

Seventh, is the “whistle blower”, if journalist may have a secret source for a news, and he is being pressurized to tell the source in court, if the source is being exposed, it is called “burning the source”. After that, there would be no chance for that journalist to rebuild the trust. Lots of journalist are behind the bars because they denied to tell source. In such situation, “journalists’ protection law” should prevail in Pakistan for their privilege not to mention secret source.

Eight, the concept of ideology is very complicated. Today Pakistan has main problem of terrorism on ideological bases. Our journalism is confused about terrorism since it is unable to direct nation about it. By newspapers no particular coverage is being given to victims and its causes although, they more talk about statements given by the politicians.

Finally, in the end (pointing towards students), he said, “Actually we are unaware and unclear on what is right and what is wrong? For our sovereignty and it’s the main reason for all this scenario. You must be obvious before you approach media thus you will acquire success. And “I am sure, if you go on true you will be true, your sole will be true and ultimately you will be rewarded for it. It is impossible if you articulate truth and you may not achieve victory”.

(Raheel Anwar in a visually impaired but the most talented and visionary student of MSc final semester class at ICS, Punjab University. He can be reached at: raheelanwar18@gmail.com)

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