Tag Archives: Pakistani media

Watchdog’s version of Elections 2013

Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
May 13, 2013

LAHORE: The much coveted elections were conducted on the proposed date and with an overwhelming voter turnout. Ultimately, the lions roared, taking the leverage from the citadel of Punjab province and the bat swept prominently in the valleys of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa. Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), except for the province of Sindh, limped in other parts of the country.

Amidst all the hassle of electioneering, counting of votes and the overall coverage of the ‘Election Day’, the role of media had been worthwhile and interesting at the same time. It was, perhaps, the only election in the political history of Pakistan, to which the media gave ample time and space. The pre-planned structure of General Elections, a relatively viable socio-political environment and the mushrooming of private television channels, together, contributed to lend the elections better media coverage.

On May 9, 2013, it was Geo TV that inaugurated an emotionally-charged election headquarters with Iqbal’s poem (Lab pai ati hai dua ban kai tamana mairee- My longing comes to my lips as a supplication of mine) with the entire Geo and Jang network vowing to give credible coverage of Elections 2013 to its viewers.

The entire set of Geo studio was transformed, in order to make the elections a special occasion for the nation. Both political analysts and public figures were invited to share their expert opinions about the elections. Such headquarters were the only one of its kind in the ‘mass media time line’ of Pakistan. This channel swung its coverage in favor of PTI the day Imran Khan fell and the nation commiserated with the captain. Such a U-turn must have been a surprise for supporters of PML-N who were enjoying favorable media coverage from Geo network days before the unfortunate incident overtook PTI’s chairman.

Dunya TV adopted an anti-PML-N stance right from the beginning of election campaign. It was apparently involved in a cut-throat competition with Geo network to declare unofficial results of the ‘vote-count’. The state television, PTV, took a proper route to announce unofficial results. Unlike the other private channels, the satellite based PTV didn’t announce results before the time for casting votes ended. Interestingly, during the bombardment of unofficial results, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) reminded the media outlets that they were violating the rules by declaring results before the polling closed.

However, the intriguing aspect was that electoral malpractices and cases of rigging were first reported through the social media. For instance, the most trending topics for the social information network, ‘Twitter’, were #NofearKhi and #DisqualifyMQM followed by #rigging and #Saad Rafiq.

The blast in NA-1, Peshawar that claimed the life of 11 people, was first reported by citizen journalists through websites like Facebook. The citizen journalists effectively used tools of communication like Internet and Smart phones to collect and report data. An interesting and healthy campaign, ‘iVoted’, published pictures of people with stained thumbs to show that Pakistanis were cognizant about their social obligation of casting votes.

It can be concluded that in the future, election coverage will be a battle between social media versus conventional media. On the other hand, watchdog’s version of Elections 2013, can be compared to a canvas, which every television channel wanted to stain first without paying much heed to rules and credibility.


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National Issues and the Responsibilities of Media

Director, Institute of Communication Studies, Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz, addressing the audience during the seminar.

Media can only be strengthened and fully advance with its aim as the fourth pillar of a democratic state by fulfilling its responsibilities especially with regards to national issues. The Institute of Communication Studies, organized a seminar on ‘National issues and responsibilities of the media’. Eminent media professionals and columnists were invited at the seminar to share their views with the students. The speakers included Ajmal Jami (news anchor and host of the program ‘IN SESSION’ at Dunya TV), Yasir Pirzada (son of renowned columnist Atta ul Haq Qasmi and one of the youngest columnists of Jang news group), Syed Irshad Ahmed Arif (former deputy editor of Nawa-i-Waqt and renowned columnist of Jang news group) and Arshad Ansar (president of Lahore Press Club). The seminar was presided over by the director of the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS), Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz. In his introductory remarks, the director of ICS asked the students to actively participate in such though-provoking sessions as this was the only way for them to interact with and learn from those who are actually working in the media.

The discussion opened with a presentation by Yasir Pirzada. Few news items were shown to the students and they were questioned about the objectivity of the headlines of the news reports. He was of the view that media is portraying violence in the name of terrorism. Yasir Pirzada told the students that praise and criticism should be balanced and ethically practised.

Ajmal Jami shared his experience of hosting a program at a popular TV channel. He said that the race for attaining high ratings impedes the media personnel from presenting an objective and impartial analysis of national issues. He advised the students to have a critical approach, but also to be equipped with proper knowledge and skills.

Arshad Ansari, asked the students to pay attention to positive reporting as well. He was of the view that this type of reporting can also furnish good journalists for Pakistan.

Syed Irshad Ahmed Arif, expressed his opinion in a very lucid and rational manner. According to him, the nation has suffered from moral demise which in turn has led to political, economic and social decline. Referring towards Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, he said that: ‘there was a man who worked tirelessly to create an independent state for the Muslims of India and today our state of affairs are so abysmal that we are conducting debates about whether his decision and action was appropriate. We are least concerned about the right and wrong side of our actions and their consequences’. Providing a comparison of the past journalistic practices and the present situation of media, he told the students that in the past reporters of print media were considered to be credible and responsible. According to him, today the politicians were lying without any shame let alone those who are reporting their statements.

The seminar was concluded by the director of the Institute of Communication Studies, Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz, who suggested the students to learn and practice what the speakers had taught as the future of the media is in their hands. At the end he expressed his gratitude towards the speakers and appreciated them for their literary views.

Note: This category will contain reports of all the seminars that are held at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of the Punjab, New Campus, Lahore.


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