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Backward evolution of media

"If you want to see which channel supports which party, just take a look at their news bulletin and you will know their policy"

In the election of 2013, the environment was very different. The media was ‘neutral’. Surely, every media group had their favourites to support, but they made sure that they kept their support hidden. They had to report the news objectively in order to not to reveal their policy. Only it was the analysis that was used to reflect a bit of their policy. Every channel had analysts and anchors from all the representative parties. In fact, it was hard to guess which anchor or media person was supporting which party. The benefit to the viewer was that they were getting opinions from all sides. They were getting exposure to the opinions of all parties. And then they could decide which one to choose.

But after the elections in 2013, media began to evolve.

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But the evolution was backward. Certain anchors began to openly bash Nawaz Sharif, and the PML-N despite being in the government did not notice. This encouraged a lot of anti-PML-N media groups to openly criticize the party. As a response, those media groups who were hesitant to talk against PTI started criticizing it as well.

Imran Khan openly began to call out the channels that were not happy with his sit-in. Not only him, but his supporters also began to harass journalists and anchors from those channels.

Thus media was divided into different blocks. Certain channels began to support PML-N and other PTI. Media personnel became more open and obvious with their political opinions. This open biasness divided the audience as well.

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The PTI supporters began to watch certain channels and boycotted the others. PML-N supporters watched certain channels and boycotted the rest as well. Thus the viewer that was once getting both sides of a story began to see only one perspective as he was (deliberately) deprived of the point of view of the other party.

Is it ok for a media group to support a certain party? The biggest problem that we witness today is that in order to support their favourite party, they distort reality. In media, there is “absolutely no” room for opinion in a news bulletin. A news bulletin is supposed to be based on facts reported in a neutral language. No biased adjectives that reflect an opinion should be included in a bulletin. The space for opinion only lies in the analysis.

But the problem is, today, there is no fine line between an opinion and a piece of news. Every piece of news that we see on these channels is an opinion.

If you want to see which channel supports a party, just take a look at their news bulletin and you will know their policy, which is very embarrassing, to be honest. The media was supposed to be a watchdog of society and people in power but certain channels are now being the narrative manufacturers of certain parties. These channels omit the news that goes against their favourite party. Some anchors give margin to the representatives of their favourite parties on talk shows.

Some anchors even write down relevant points and pass them to the politicians during their talk shows so that those politicians can defend themselves against their opponents. They avoid hard questions when they interview them. The way they ask questions to their favourite politicians, the way they talk about them, and the way they justify their acts, is not what media is supposed to do.

And when a certain media person deviates from the pattern and reports the truth, politicians tend to call them sponsored journalists. Yesterday, a journalist asked Fawad Chaudhary about Farah Khan [a close friend of the former first lady] and he quickly called him a paid journalist instead of simply answering his question. This is an outcome of the politicization of media.

But the biggest impact is on the viewer. He is the one at loss. Lack of media literacy is already a big problem in Pakistan. Pakistani viewer is not literate enough to differentiate between opinion and news. Thus these channels are constantly brainwashing the audience and exploiting them. The audience is being deprived of the full picture, which is very unfair to the viewer. There are very few media groups who are objective in their reporting but unfortunately, the voter is not watching them. They are watching those channels that tell them what they want to hear.

It is very inappropriate for a media group to distort the facts to show the good side of their beloved party. Their commitment should be with the audience, not a political party. They have to report the truth, even if it goes against their favourite party. And politicians also need to realize that not every journalist is going to please them.

They will ask questions that they might not like, so instead of lambasting them, just simply answer their question and move on.

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