The Breaking News about Goose Eggs
ISLAMABAD: “The media is the most powerful entity on the earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” — Malcolm X
The media comply with some rules and regulations throughout the world. Generally, it follows a specific code of ethics and standards of journalism. Media persons are obliged to avoid things that are hurtful to opinion of the public. They must be au fait with their responsibilities.
Information should be carefully processed and presented in conformity with the standards in the best possible way. Sensitive cases are ought to be dealt with great care and caution.
But in Pakistan newspersons would care less about such obligations when it is time to dispense breaking news. Very ordinary developments are displayed as breaking news frequently, and news channels abruptly get into this race to acquire maximum audience although it might be at the cost of disgracing someone who is innocent. This is a rating race during which they would overlook how much they deviate from the norms and the accepted standards. Unconfirmed news and news from weak and unauthenticated sources are aired with an air of sensationalism in order to captivate a large number of viewers even though at times it might harm someone’s dignity and prestige.
Media plays an important role in any given society, and that is why today it is regarded as the fourth pillar of the state, with legislature, executive, and judiciary being the other three. It creates awareness among the public and protect their interests against wrongdoings. It helps in fighting corruption, nepotism, and cronyism. It serves as a shield against injustice, misdeeds, and discrimination. It also helps in establishing cultural and social values. It comes to the rescue of our culture from the influence of foreign societies in this age of globalisation. It can mould ideas, attitudes and beliefs of the people in a right direction.
Nevertheless, an irresponsible and reckless media would do the opposite. It would often hype the basic information, and increase cosmetic appeal of things. It would exaggerate and sensationalise mundane affairs, while on the other hand, it might trivialise things of utmost importance just for commercial reasons. Majority of the viewers are misinformed in such cases as they believe what is depicted by the media.
Media is an integral component of any society and can bring changes in lives of people for the better or for the worse. This means its reins should be in hands of those who show responsibility, who don’t give in to pressure, and those who do not seek only money but also have a motive to educate people about recent developments taking place in the country and throughout the world.
Many TV channels that broadcast breaking news about run-of-the-mill issues in a bid to have a larger audience cross the line. Their unrestrained news about private affairs of people put lives of many of them in danger. Recently, some channels televised news about a person of high stature and a lady unknown to him to have walked down the aisle allegedly to spread sensation and promote their channels. Also the unknown truth and privacy of a model and a social media celebrity was laid bare before hundreds of thousands of viewers of tens of news channels in very thrilling and sensational way, which led to divulgence of her real identity and the tale of her past to millions of people. Later, she was allegedly murdered by her brother because of the “dishonor” she slappedon the family.
Naiveté is shown by many news channels as for as breaking news is concerned. The increased number of channels and spread of cable network has provided impetus to a race of fabricating breaking news out of nothing. In this regard a serious introspection by media groups is need of the hour.
Bringing the-whole-nine-yards of someone’s life on TV screens is not mature journalism by any definition. This practice should be deprecated and stifled forthwith. The mantra of right to freedom of expression should not be exploited to infringe upon the right to privacy of a person. Although the right to privacy is not an absolute right and does not apply to all situations and to all persons equally, yet the privacy of celebrities or politicians that has no connection with any public activity, and which is not of public concern should not be disseminated.
Pakistan is signatory to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, article 12 of which states, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attack upon his honour reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.” Therefore, government should ensure the implementation of this article in full letter and spirit.
Media should show restraint and only news about extraordinary things should be put forward as “Breaking News.” Only confirmed and authenticated news should be broadcasted. Privacy of people should not be sold in terms of gaining ratings. In this regard PEMRA should also keep check on the media and advise them to show some self-restraint.