Tortured bodies, helpless corpses, celebrating media independence in Pakistan

This article is based on seeing horrific scenes from the two independent media channels in Pakistan, the GEO and ARY One World. The scenes showed people after being a bomb blast in a mosque (Imam Bargah, Ali Raza Karachi), in deserted conditions. These are reflections of how media handles these incidents and how it makes money out of it.

The newsreader reads “Exclusive from our channel, these pictures you will not see at any channel, coming live to you”. These are common statements, delivered in most profound manner, passionate sound, enthralling music. This is the media independence at its peak. Both the popular private television channels, showed pictures of bruised, helpless, unconscious people, apparently the editing control, self censorship is scrupulously ignored to gain the strategic business advantage.

Why the media is not considerate of the human dignity, self esteem and the pain of the deceased families. What is the purpose to show the humiliating conditions of these helpless people? It all goes to one direction and that is gaining popularity among the masses of being the most sophisticated, updated, prompt television news network for the people of Pakistan. The question however remains, do the people of Pakistan like to see these visuals, that are more then news, and it appears a soap opera, with intense violence, subjugation of the common people of Pakistan. Ultimately it simply tames the cruelty of the horrendous acts and leads to passiveness in the society.

The Pakistani Society is bombarded with all the gusto and rhythm by the main-stream media in their houses for a few rupees. Something that was unpredictable only a few years back, when people used to laugh on having a 24 hours news channel, yet we have them and have them in full throttle.

The independence brings with itself a sense of conscientious responsibility to deliver. However the media has gone beyond the limits, it not only interferes in public opinion, but control in a meticulous manner that everything appears democratic, open and transparent. Alex Carrey wrote in his legendary book “Taking the risk out of democracy”, what could be called as manifesto of the main stream media, “the twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, he growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy”.

How true he was, let us look at the two private news channels in Pakistan, one is owned by the largest group in print media and has clearly taken control of the electronic media until another big business venture comes in and launches another news channel with an array of other channels. Both of these channels GEO and ARY and a dying PTV are combating to win hearts of Pakistani people that now you have your own voice in the myriad voices of the news channels around the globe. What is does to a common man, monopolizing the source of information that limits to print and electronic media, bringing what is suitable to there business, therefore add some masala (spice) to everything being presented. Defuse the message, is perhaps the right phrase to define the approach of the media. The commentary on news is cautiously selected, the discussion, debate is very open, people speak out there hearts, and we selected the best possible representatives of the subject matter. However the paucity in content, the designing of the program and the lack of depth in discussion remains the cornerstones of every discussion.

Edward Said and many others said that you are given two minutes of prime time mainstream media in the USA, where the question would be “do you favor the terrorism or liberation” and suddenly the person goes into self defense mode and the times over. The moderators of any TV program are selected on the basis of their skills to deal with people to throw the ideas that the media center wants people to talk about. It never encourages people to bring out the points, which are contradicting to its mandate. The corporate propaganda has already taken roots in the western societies, where information dependence whether required or not is evident. The Pakistani society is passing through these growling phase of their existence when the corporate is going to take it all.

The question on all media fronts is about the big business opportunities that are being threatened; the foreign investment will decline. Everything focuses business and the protection to business interest, where the interest of the people is and who has the moral authority to prefer the business interest over people’s right. The business interest, which is utterly inhuman, is against the will and rights of people is being promoted and the all the precautions are to preserve their rights, as if it the most sacred and the only panacea to the problems of people in Pakistan.

Where this media frenzy will be over and can we imagine a life without all this hype of information age. Will the dignity, self-respect of the people supersede the greed of the corporate media or will we continue to live in an enlightened graveyard of choices. Development and media have certain commonalties one of which is to first dehumanize the processes, humiliate people being under developed, illiterate and then propose the agenda that suits the global power managers.