breaking news

Guest post by F’rah Mukhtar

This is in response to Wali Zahid’s post, What do our educated read online?

Every few weeks, we have an unprecedented event, mind boggling and blood curdling. We are in a state of war, no doubt about it. The reasons are so complex that we can’t put our finger down on a specific one. Along with this, we regularly come to know of incidents that we could never have imagined. Such absurd happenings seem to materialize out of nowhere. The event gets full media coverage, live news feed, minute by minute development, discussion in talk shows, anything and everything to keep you glued to the screens.

One approach, to understand these extraordinary events, can be that as compared to the rest of the world, we are a new television audience. We got exposure to the “free media”, including private TV channels, only recently. This might be a reason that we are hungry for spicy news. Subconsciously, we are craving for some unprecedented event.

Previously, we used to have only one state run TV channel. The quality of its shows, the authenticity of the news, ethics and professionalism were its hallmark. Then there was a private channel, which created a healthy competition. But now, we have tens of private TV channels that exercise their right of freedom of speech to a sickening level. We have a greater inclination for watching news channels, because they are churning news at a dizzying speed, quoting incidents of unprecedented nature.

Apparently, telecasting news no longer requires any authenticity and even if it undergoes some verification before being presented, the standards are very low. The news will just spring up on the screens in a most surprising tone, stunning the audience at once. One channel quotes one figure, the other has a different figure to quote about the same incident. There is a sickening competition about breaking the worst news before other channels. This race to break the news first reduces the time for verification, almost eliminating its scope.

The news channels are conducting business without any ethics. But these channels are not the only ones to be blamed. We, as a general TV audience ask for it. We buy the spice, they sell it! The staggering figures involved in such a business suggest that some unprecedented event should take place on regular basis. Every few weeks, there is a mind boggling event, more disgusting than the previous one, shocking, jaw dropping, heart sinking; in simple words, a roller coaster of emotions.

We have some seriously sick minds controlling this “business”. If something doesn’t happen for long, the channel ratings drop. To keep the business running, why not create an incident and feed the hungry audience? Within minutes, stage sets for an action packed event, eyes get glued to the screens, the airtime prices reach record highs, money is made then matters are brought to discussion in the so called live talk shows, more money is made. It’s true for the rumors as well. They get so much importance without having any base.

I am not pointing at any particular event; we have a long list of absurd happenings. These events get full media coverage, tens of channels giving live news feed and flashing images. There are no rules to be followed; no regulations are taken care of. There is no sense of responsibility, ethics or discretion of content. The cameras show what needs not to be shown to the public, the reporters use words that are least professional and unnecessary music plays in the background, turning the whole incident into a rehearsed play.

One heart wrenching scene gets multiple exposures from tens of cameras, one bad news gets repeated continuously for hours. The newscasters seem to enjoy breaking the bad news to the public, filling the gaps within their reading with illogical phrases. The highs and lows of voice and the emphasis on heart piercing words give an impression of some cheap theater performance. And that’s actually what the news has become, a discreditable theatrical performance.

The leading international news channels never show the raw violence, even in their live coverage. But here, the violent scenes break our heart, lower our morale and cause psychological unrest and disturbance for a long time. These incidents pile up inside us, layer after layer and cause frustration and a sense of helplessness.

The day the crowd stops buying the spice, the news channels will calm down. What happens on entertainment channels can be paralleled to this scenario.

F'rah Mukhtar

F’rah Mukhtar is a graduate of UET, Lahore. She is an architect, a photographer, a blogger and a writer in architectural magazines.

  • F’rah Mukhtar

    Thank you for sharing! I really wish we become good audience and good readers.

  • Khurrum Iqbal

    I understand you are really doing your best and out of the blue, but we where we heading, that is questionable b/w me and you but not beyond our dreams.

    Your daily dose really effective, but the fact of the matter is, we are under severely indebted to foreign exchequer, and it keeps on mounting due to compounding and string attachment.

    Our flag is used only for hoisting and covering the soles of real humans, the rest of the national decisions are made under different flags.

    Our internationally accepted education standards are limited to elite class which represents only 1% of the educable population, the rest are forced to work under 1%, after qualification. Our professionals are induce to leave from the motherland, due to discrimination unequal opportunities. Elite class not include feudal lords, these people are not Pakistanis, they just passing their popularity period, once finished, they will back to their respective home countries.

    Our Government is one of the most powerful governments in the world, therefore nobody question them except the veto power. Our army no doubt is the best in the world but, we are not fully equipped to deter. Today space is the ground, everything coming from space. Even small white kites are lethal.

    Our nation wants to see glamor on the media, which is an eye wash to boost the image of Pakistan in the eyes of world.

    We have only hope of God, with us which make us proud though, it has also holes in terms of unity and fear.

    Our News acts like a spoke person.

    Our fashion industry is developing with a tremendous pace beating the constitution in general and Islamic ideology in particular, though both are suppose to be same, but unfortunately different.