By Farman Nawaz (Unpublished article)
Once upon a time an emperor had a dream at night. He asked his ministers “what does this dream mean?” One his ministers said “My lord your whole family will die before your death”. The emperor got angry and sentenced his minister to death. Another minister said” My lord you will have a longer life than your relatives”. The emperor was very happy to hear this and rewarded that minister. By narrating this story I want to explain that by telling the same fact in a different way changes its impact and listener’s reaction also changes accordingly. This principle is applied by the international propaganda machinery of super powers and media is used to do the brain washing of the people – especially of the third world countries.
Today when we have hundreds of TV and radio channels, newspapers and magazine so in this bombardment of news common people can not get to the conclusion. It’s a dilemma of the third world that western media is considered to be the standard and trustworthy. And the local media is either dominated by the establishment or mostly such people are managing them that have no vision of national interest in the regional context. In this scenario if the local media launch campaign for their selfish interests it can make the situation worse for the government.
To get rid of such situations in the third world, it is essential that the young generation must be politically conscious, they must know the national interest and they must have the power of analysis of news. To understand the role of media and how to set apart facts and rumors, it is necessary that one must know how media works, how it is financed and what factors influence it. Some channels are sponsored by the government like PTV of Pakistan and BBC of UK. Mainly these organizations are given funds by collecting license fee from the public. But private media is mainly run by advertisements. The companies which give ads to these channels or newspapers, decide according to the rating of any particular channel. Higher rating means higher viewer ship or readership and eventually higher rates of advertisements.
As most of these private media groups are run on commercial basis so there are always chances of conflict between national interest and their vested interests. That’s why International intelligence agencies may give them incentives to mold the public opinion in a certain direction. These incentives are not given directly but in shape of ads of multinational companies.
As I have mentioned in the beginning that it is not necessary to publish or broadcast lies but even facts can be presented in such a way that the desired results are achieved. There are dozens of examples where media was used to destabilize the governments, rebellions were engineered and election results are changed. BBC played an active part against Sokarno government in Indonesia and to block the way for socialism. Propaganda against Jamal Abdul Nasir, separation of East Timor, division of Yugoslavia and the so-called American sponsored Afghan Jihad; all are the miracles of media.
To mold public opinion some times media highlights only some aspects of the news while some are kept hidden. And even those some aspects are presented out of the context. Half truth is even more dangerous than a lie. Sometimes the statements of certain political leader is given preference and published on main pages or broadcasted repeatedly. And the idea is injected in the people that particular leader is popular and most of the people support him. Previously we have experienced how a certain fundamentalist religious group was highlighted in this way.
Keeping in view all these aspects of media the western governments have taken preventive measures. For example there are laws that keep check on media’s foreign relations and its political affiliations. News that is conflicting with the national interests is not published. Scenes of violence and injuries are avoided to broadcast. But over here in Pakistan beheaded corpses are shown on the TV screens. Seeing this foreign investors and businessmen will soon flee from Pakistan.
In this scenario we must also take notice of the role of immature media of Pakistan. It’s a fact that the government owned media is not impartial and people don’t trust it. There for there was always a need of free and impartial media in Pakistan. But when in Musharaf period media was given a free hand so at that time it was the responsibility of the government to make certain rules for it. Most of the channels are owned by the people who are purely capitalistic in nature and their sole purpose is making money. Now it is very easy for international agencies to pressurize them using ads of multinational companies. And their headquarters are out side the country so if government wants to apply some rules on them, they can run their channels from abroad.
Secondly our people are illiterate and those who are literate, are not politically aware of the consequences of uncontrolled media. As our political parties are not organized from with in and they don’t have strong roots in the people so public can be very easily misguided by the media. Besides this in Pakistan there is no journalistic culture and ideology and the journalisms departments of universities just teach journalistic techniques. There must be some subjects in the curriculum of journalism that can guide the students ideologically.
By telling these facts it is not my wish to oppose free journalism in Pakistan. But instead of unbound media we need strong, independent and politically conscious media that does not make suspense of the news. Our journalists must realize that what is our national interest and what are the negativities to stay apart from regional players. Government should make a code of conduct for the media that can bind the media to have headquarters inside the country and there should be check on their external funding. The media should promote those leaders which can present the humanitarian aspect of the religion. Media must disclose those names that have exploited the youth of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Jihad era. Because for decades we journalists have exploited our people for popular journalism and fame.