Patient: When will Coronavirus end?
Doctor: I don’t know. I am a doctor, not a journalist.
The joke doing the rounds in WhatsApp groups reflects the journalism scene.
It seems journalism is fast becoming a trade of fortune-telling, prophecies, and predictions.
The world has seen some unprecedented times in the past two years. With the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic crisis around the world, Pakistan also saw a fair share of problems. Many predictions were made and only a few materialized (by a matter of luck, of course). Such is the way of predictions; one can hope and pray and give the most logical argument regarding the outcome of an action, but what happens happens and there is nothing one can do about it.
The point is, why do journalists forecast the future happenings of everything from the economy to politics, war, peace, disease, dirt, education, law and order, and so on?
The year of 2021 began with the easing of restrictions due to the coronavirus, many claimed that the virus will not last long and the government decided to give a green light to the resumption of daily activities. Institutions were opened and restaurants opened their doors to welcome people. However, soon after the virus cases started rising again and another lockdown was imposed. People were disappointed and the air became melancholic once again. However, what the people did not realize was that they were in for a roller coaster ride which would only go downhill for the rest of the year.
If we go back to 2020, the year, which decimated journalism prophecies. A bench of anchors, very celebrated and top-rated anchors, said Pakistan had failed the Coronavirus test and hundreds of thousands would die unattended. Pakistan, however, sailed through the pandemic without much ado, while the harbingers of doom and gloom predicted economic collapse. There is no shortage of prophecies.
Time and again the opposition parties joined hands to break down the government and claim the achievement of the fall of PTI. The media fanned these flames as many times it was reported that the government will not last much longer. However, it survived and is surviving still even though it has made the lives of the common man a living hell.
By the end of the year, the media was hell-bent on claiming that the former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif is returning. Talk show hosts made it an important point of discussion and there are reports of insiders claiming that the PML-N supremo will make a grand comeback to put the final nail in the coffin of the dead body that the PTI government is. The first due date was November and before that the Imran government was to fall in October or November. November and December, however, passed without much fuss and the man did not return.
TV talk show hosts invite palmists and fortunetellers to their shows at the start of the year. This time too, a host of soothsayers were invited to know about the fall of the PTI government, the return of Nawaz Sharif and the marriage of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. May the palmists have good business in 2022. May the media remain true to its core job of reporting, accurate reporting and fair reporting.
The PTI government still survives and the inflation levels are ever rising. The year 2021 was a difficult one. Here comes my prediction: 2022 will not be easy either, so one must fasten their seatbelt for the rollercoaster ride that is to follow.