April 15, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Failure to recognize real news is bad enough but to continue to look the other way is unforgivable. The media’s treatment towards the news of 138 Pakistan Army soldiers being buried under an avalanche on that icy high altitude outpost, the Siachen, has come in for quite a backlash from the public. The initial shock has now turned to anger.
A day after the tragic incident, in which a huge wall of snow crashed into the remote Siachen Glacier base, reports on the tragedy were callously buried in the bottom half of most front pages in the national dailies. Reports were sketchy and no effort was made to elaborate on what had happened.
The electronic media too let it slip by with a passing mention in initial news bulletins, concentrating more on political intrigues, talk shows and such.
A week later questions are still being asked as to why the media never fully recognized the importance of the story. There is a smoldering anger and resentment towards the media for failing to do their job properly.
“All our media can do is to dwell endlessly on politics and politicians. Nothing else matters,” a popular blog noted. Another was more forthcoming, “The media is incompetent and not prepared to report real news when it happens. It is only a specialist in sensationalism and pandering to the egos of politicians.”
The public has been thirsting for new information on the tragedy which has, somehow, united an otherwise alienated population in finding a reason to sympathize with the army and bolstered calls to withdraw troops from Siachen.
As of Saturday, more than 450 rescuers were said to be working in sub-zero temperatures at the site, though experts have said there is virtually no chance of finding any survivors.
“The media has failed us,” observed a banker, “This tragedy shows us the limitations and capability of the Pakistani media. We knew they were incompetent and biased before, but now we know they also lack patriotism. Makes you think, huh?”
“Our media is handicapped by huge egos and vested interests,” commented, Israr Ali, a college student, “Not only is the media run by ‘cha-chas’ and ‘ma-ma’s’ but is totally unprofessional.”
Abdul Amir, a school teacher had another twist on the inability of the media to deal with the matter. “The journalists of today are untrained. They have wavering ideologies and dubious agendas. They do not have respect for the army; the same army that has stood by this country since the very beginning. Look at how many soldiers we have lost in the last four or five years. They have taken such news for granted. Whether one soldier dies or a hundred, it makes no difference to the media; they are blinded by their dislike of the army.”
(Steve Manuel is the Founder and Chief Editor of JournalismPakistan.com)
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