I often avoid going to the conferences arranged by universities. They only offer presentation after presentation of research papers, research articles, and about more research efforts. The speakers prefer using media studies jargon and are interested in explaining their research methodology, research tools, and data collected and mined, leaving little time for question and answers. Moreover, they hardly call any working journalists to ask for their side of versions.
It does not mean I am against research work. No doubt, research is the scientific way to dig and reach the logical truth. But these conferences are a different ball game.
When I was invited to speak to a session at the International Media Conference ’22 on ‘BALANCING THE EXPRESSION: EXPLORING ANTAGONISM IN WORLD MEDIA ECOSYSTEM’, at the Lahore Garrison University last week, it left a feeling of anxiety on my mind. The problem was: I was not ready to make a speech in mediatized jargons and terms at the conference. When I saw the list of other speakers, I was really pleased that the conference was a real effort to create a linkage between the universities and the media industry. I felt honoured to share the stage with distinguished and respectful names, such as retired Lt-Gen Ghulam Mustafa, and Garrison University Vice Chancellor Maj-Gen (retired) Shahzad Sikandar. I had the pleasure of meeting Prof. Dr. Anjum Zia, who heads the media studies programmes at the University of Management Sciences, Dr. Amir Bajwa, head of the Mass Communication Department of the Lahore Garrison University, and Dr. Nosheena, head of School of Communication Studies of the Punjab University. Several working journalists were on the speakers list.
When we talk about balancing expression in the media, it involves journalistic ethics. Well, we all are familiar with ethics and try to follow them and trample them on a day-to-day basis. I told the session participants that The Minute Mirror is not just another routine paper; when the newsroom tries to avoid public relation practices and instead focuses on news content, balance in expression follows. But it is not happening everywhere, we can easily tag a certain news channel with a certain political party. Journalism should not be a PRO work for any political party or organisation or institution. Those doing PR work in the garb of journalism have to compromise the essence of journalism and their work gets compromised and at the end of the day, it is the media that suffers.
Another balancing act is to work as a watchdog as well as promoter of social causes.
We all have heard of the Motorway gang-rape case. Since the occurrence of the incident, till the arrest of the suspect, the media reported the case religiously and round the clock. It kept on castigating the police for not arresting the suspects. It never appreciated the police for responding to the gang-rape victim. The police worked day and night to find the whereabouts of the suspect (now a convict) but the media never appreciated that. When the police were able to arrest him, the media went into silence.
This is the mindset which works in the media.
The media must learn to appreciate those who deserve it. There are several unsung heroes in the shape of startup bosses, inventors of smart solutions, social workers and social scientists who never get space in the media. Moreover, our government officials come up with wonderful solutions to our problems. They respond to us when the power supply to our house fails, or water supply to our home gets suspended. The media should also learn to desist from the trend of maligning the national institutions, such as the army.
This mindset has been developed cunningly for years, and now it has become our psyche.
Minute Mirror is trying to change these trends through a balanced treatment of stories.
So far, I have not been successful; my newsroom is trying hard to bring about a change.