Pakistan And Its Journalistic ‘Woes’

Journalism has always been the passion that I shall carry till my last breathing. Was into reading newspapers when I was a kid, thanks to my father for letting me understand the current affairs in the time when children usually tend to indulge in playing sports or any recreational stuff. Before the advent of private channels, I was in the process of dissecting related developments while watching State-owned television or Indian news channels trying to figure out what is really happening. This was when I was hardly a ten year old. So the roots to be a journalist of any sort were created back when children dream of becoming an engineer, doctor, lawyer or an IT specialist.

However, when the reality strikes, it makes one’s passion to be compromised on many levels. Journalism in a developing country is as compromised as could be and several times the by-product of our toxic culture which is insecure, lacks the heart to embrace newcomers who may be well versed than a lot of seniors. Not taking anything away from the years of experience, but revolving the entire discussion in favour that the experience is always correct is absolutely not true.

Journalism requires a critical mindset, an opinionated overview of the world. Besides, it is not confined to conventional entrenched style but has always been evolving bringing forth new methods and strategies. Digital Media is the prime example in which many of our seniors are oblivious about the changing dynamics. Theories of the 60s, 70s about the press shall not work for today. Our Universities are only producing a bunch of degree holders lacking the insights of modern-day journalism.

I have built up the case to put before the factors which are responsible for the aforementioned state of journalism in Pakistan. As a whole, journalism can never be seen in complete isolation from the prevailing norms of the corporate culture. It was never a profession to expose the falsehood but with the passage of time, it has become a tool to align your views with the powers that be. We think the only power is a deep state but it is part of a larger game. The threat to journalism was and will be the corporate culture as mainly the driven revenues for any media outlet is sensationalism, hammering a concocted story so that it seems to be true inviting unprecedented ratings.

News is a commodity that is manufactured by angling, value is added when it is released on time, therefore despite being the truth it loses the sanctity as the main objective is not to inform but to display a selective truth in accordance with the editorial policy—linked with the corporate interests. This has been the trademark of major media organizations incorporating the mentality of selfishness, glorification in the respective employees. To receive praises is not problematic but to strive for only that purpose creates a culture of leg-pulling of biblical proportions. On top of that, the overall state policy is to censure, control the media resulting in pressure for the owner which they transfer to their employees by laying off, deductions and backlog of salaries, thus creating an insecure environment where competition is discouraged and it is more about survival.

In today’s media, it is less about merit but a network of like-minded people who shall go to any extreme in introducing their own people. Interviews are framed and designed according to the possibility of hiring non-exceptional people who are docile before their bosses. Requirements like “Team Player,” “Creative,” and “Innovative” are just on paper, it is perhaps about who is the best person who will not challenge our egos.

Therefore, my love for journalism shall never die but I am sad for my love is in the hands of self-obsessed, narcissistic people who will do more injustice to this profession in the years to come.