August 02, 2012
Z B Saigol
KARACHI: A just concluded reader’s poll in JournalismPakistan.com only confirms what I have always believed. When asked if the notorious ‘List of 19’, pinpointing journalists who were corrupt was fake, a telling 58 per cent believed it was not as compared to 42 per cent who thought it was.
JournalismPakistan.com ran the poll through the month of July and not only received a healthy response but elicited some choice remarks and observations on the credibility of the media and individuals on the list.
The list made its initial appearance in June soon after Dunya TV’s scandalous Meher-Lucman leaked video interview with Bahria Town magnate Malik Riaz turned the media industry on its head while further alienating an already disbelieving viewership.
It was alleged the individuals on the list had benefitted from Malik to the tune of several million rupees through gifts that included executive cars, all expenses paid trips abroad, and prime property.
The list was printed on a Bahria Town letterhead and detailed transactions from various banks to the individuals on the list. There was an immediate uproar from the public and media alike.
The public said their belief in the media had been shattered. The media, especially individuals on the list, insisted it was a deliberate attempt to make the media look bad. They said the list was a fake and a bid to belittle the integrity of the media.
The debate on whether the list is a fake or not continues unabated as rival TV channels, egoistic anchors and columnists continue to accuse each other of being more corrupt, caring little that their actions have left the public bemused if not disgusted. All this airing of dirty linen has left the media open to ridicule and made a laughing stock of its professional integrity.
Talat Husain, who is set to join Express News from DawnNews, virtuously made known to the public all his worldly assets, dealings and bank details while accusing Najam Sethi of being unscrupulous.
Mubashar Lucman tried to redeem himself through two pitiful explanatory articles in the Express Tribune, an even more miserable television account, and finally a promo for his new show for ARY which was not only plagiarized in concept and content, but showed up Mubashar as a whinger of the worst kind.
Some individuals said they were taking the legal route and have - token gestures of indignity that will result in zilch.
Nusrat Javeed boasted he would handle the issue “Apnay tareeqay say (His own way).” He wrote back recently to a probe committee constituted by the PFUJ:
“My inclusion in a list of media persons allegedly getting money from Bharia Town owner was generated through social media. No one owned it, but in my specific case it was widely spread by Dr Awab Alwi, the son of a PTI leader in Karachi and his supporters who are found diligently engaged in spreading the revolutionary message of Imran Khan.
“Through my writings and talk show, I have been consistently challenging the 'revolutionary credentials' of this group. Yet, none of them ever dared to approach an appropriate forum, including the PFUJ, with any evidence of corrupt practices by me.”
Most amazingly Hamid Mir, of the Osama Bin Laden interview reputation, and Aaj TV’s Absar Alam, have filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking the formation of an accountability commission for the media.
Hamid said he and Alam had presented themselves for accountability because they wanted to restore the media’s integrity and make sure those responsible for tarnishing the media’s image were held responsible.
Absar proclaimed: “The culprits among us should be brought to justice.” No specific classification was made on what identified them as culprits or what their actions were that could be construed into falling into the realm of being an offense.
Bravo, I say. Good luck gentlemen (or maybe not). That truly phenomenal Chinese philosopher/warrior Sun Tzu would undoubtedly be so proud that the two of you have so religiously followed one of his most famous observations from his treatise on military strategy, The Art of War. You have taken “Offense is the best defense” into an entirely different dimension.
Somehow though, going by the online chatter, Hamid and Absar’s ruse has only triggered more skepticism. “Accountability should start from Hamid Mir himself. He should be investigated for various shows over the years whose objective has been to stir sympathies among his viewers for Al Qaeda and Taliban. He should be grilled about why he makes statements in his shows that create pro-terrorist ambiguities. He is one of the leading TV anchors who are responsible for the decade long brainwashing of the people of Pakistan,” a reader of The Express Tribune remarked.
The petition though has raised another burning debate. If it was triggered by “List of 19” it should focus on the financial integrity of journalists and any fact-finding commission should look at only this aspect.
Will the commission also be looking into professional integrity, starting with Hamid Mir?
The questions that arise in this case are many: What about perceived extremist, hardline, rightist, or personal ideological leanings that are pushed through? What about intellectual side-tracking and side-stepping? What about political biases that come through? What about the deliberate skirting of professional ethics i.e. half told stories, plagiarized material, unverified, falsified or totally fabricated reports?
If it’s media integrity the Supreme Court is going to look into, then it certainly has its work cut out; simply identifying and defining exactly what media integrity is, will not only be the first but also most contentious issue.
(The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily those of JournalismPakistan.com)
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