Journalism, the world over, is regarded as the noblest of professions. Journalists are men and women of reason, wisdom and patience. However, Pakistan’s journalistic scene is gradually becoming murkier, unreasonable and abusive.
Some broadcast and print journalists have taken it upon themselves to demean and abuse fellow members of the same community. Just a cursory look at their twitter handles reveals the sorry state of affairs in the media industry.
Pakistani journalists, on a mere difference of opinion, start labelling one another as ‘corrupt and ‘traitor’. The latest instance was the twitter war of words between Senior Journalist Rauf Klasra and relatively young media persons Aizaz Syed, Ahmed Noorani, Omar Cheema and Fakhar Durrani.
Read more: Assault on (foreign funded) Journalism in Pakistan.
Never in the past have we seen people belonging from such a noble profession stooping this low just because they are unable to handle disagreement. Journalists like Zameer Niazi and Altaf Hassan Qureshi never stooped to the level of personal accusations and vendetta, despite being ideologically poles apart. They never deviated from the basic journalistic principles, whereby you respect the opposite viewpoint.
Well, those were some good memories from the past. It’s painful to see that today some journalists are putting the high standards put forth by the likes of Altaf Hassan Qureshi and Zameer Niazi to extreme shame.
Period of grace
Ayub Khan or Gen. Zia’s military rule — Pakistani journalists always maintained the highest standard of professional and moral integrity. Although, some groups in the journalistic fraternity were pro-Democracy, while others perceived the iron-clad military govt as the better option — such irresponsible behaviour (abusing each other), that’s prevalent today, was never witnessed.
Where the latter responded with the allegation on Mr Klasra of getting personal favours from ex-PM Gilani during the PPP government
Whether it was Pro-Democracy Nisar Osmani or pre-martial law Altaf Gauhar; Leftist Ahmed Ali Khan or the rightist Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami — all had one thing in common: respect for other’s viewpoint.
Sadly, this tradition didn’t last much longer. With the introduction of broadcast media in Pakistan; social media took centre stage, instead of newsrooms. The unfiltered news gave rise to the ‘abuse and accuse culture’ in Pakistan’s media.
A noble profession disgraced
In 2015, the biggest media debacle of our country’s history happened when a fake degree scandal surfaced. A business group, which was about to launch a news channel, was linked to it.
Many big names of journalism were attached with the group, namely Kamran Khan, Azhar Abbas, Nusrat Javeed, Asma Shirazi, Iftikhar Ahmed and etc. The scandal even got published in a US newspaper.
Careers of many of the first, second and third-tier Journalists were adversely affected. On that occasion, what all of them needed was “empathy” from their comrades. But the taunts and abuses hurled at them via social media, have no parallel in the recent past.
Read more: Do male journalists in Pakistan face online abuse, harassment?
Journalistic giants like Kamran Khan and Azhar Abbas were name-called, and junior ones, struggling to find another job to run their kitchens, were mocked and joked about.
In another development, when senior journalists like Talat Hussain and Nusrat Javeed were taken off air from their respective channels, and subsequently made jobless — most sections of media did not express sympathy and despondency with their former colleagues.
Jailing of a Senior Media Person Shahid Masood was presented by a certain section of media as a celebratory occasion.
This was precisely the period when Pakistan’s journalistic community compromised on their basic principles and brought disgrace to the profession itself.
Into the gutters
Recently, a tiff occurred between Senior Journalist Rauf Klasra and some young journalists over the Asim Bajwa saga. Instead of arguing reasonably, both sides started to hurl abuse, taunts and below the belt personal comments against each other.
Rauf Klasra even stooped to the level of reminding Aizaz Syed that he was given a job in one of the media organisations on his recommendation. Where the latter responded with the allegation on Mr Klasra of getting personal favours from ex-PM Gilani during the PPP government.
Read more: How a retired Indian army officer trapped a Pakistani journalist into a web of lies
Such irresponsible accusations are coming from journalists who have, in the past, exposed corruption, nepotism and abusive behaviour of rulers. In the future, after such heated arguments, who will believe them when they unravel the wrongdoings of the rulers?
If not anything else, the recent below the belt arguments have exposed the stark ethical and moral vacuum prevalent in today’s media scene of Pakistan.
The author is the former Senior Executive Producer Programming Geo News, with core interest in politics, media, and human rights issues. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.