Paki Diaries: Pakistani Media caught selling porky pies

Diaries
December 11, 2010 00:00

Pakistani newspapers hung on a news stand in Islamabad, Pakistan. Photo - Anjum Naveed/AP

Hello and welcome! From today onwards I’ll be writing some of my thoughts in shape of diaries. I’ve been asked by Moign Khawaja, the Outernationalist editor, several times during the last few months to stop ranting about the sad state of affairs of my country and start writing my views. Not convinced before, now I’ve decided to stop being a spectator and do something in my capacity to tell both sides of the story. However, I’ll reserve my right to stay anonymous and just concentrate on writing rather than having my 2 minutes of fame…

So today’s rant is all about my country’s media caught selling lies, porky pies…

Now those who deem pig as an unclean animal and start accusing me of upsetting them, let me say that I’m not a big fan of pigs and that I do not remember ever eating pork or showing any affection towards them. I’ve just used a Cockney (an East London accent) rhyming slang and I’ve done so because I think telling lies in journalism is just like selling porky pies. That’s it!

No big deal, some will say, as this is not the first time Pakistani media has been caught red-handed. From a small newspaper or television channel to top media groups, everyone is engaged in making money by dishing out sensationalist news in guise of public service; propaganda in the name of patriotism and national interest and lies in the name of breaking news and scoops.

This time, it is the WikiLeaks that has got the bear’s nose stuck in the honey jar. The News, an English daily run by Jang Press, Pakistan’s largest media group, claimed in its Thursday publication that one of the cables leaked by WikiLeaks mentioned the presence of Indian intelligence services in insurgency-hit regions of Balochistan and Waziristan. Claiming that the US diplomats wrote in their correspondence that not only India was meddling in Pakistan’s affairs, the purported WikiLeaks cables published in several widely read Pakistani newspapers cited American diplomats as describing senior Indian generals as vain, egotistical and genocidal, and that India’s government was secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists.

As soon as British daily, The Guardian, ran a story highlighting the Pakistani media’s spin, The News and Express Tribune (allied with New York Times) admitted the story was “dubious and may have been planted“. They also offered “profuse” apologies to their “duped” readers. Other newspapers and television news channels, including Urdu Daily Jang and Nawai Waqt, who published pages of bogus and unconfirmed WikiLeaks reports are yet to admit their ignorance and blunder. It seems their arrogance and constant state of denial weighs more than retraction and correction.

It will be pointless to carry on here, naming and shaming the editorial chain of command in the Pakistani media for such a blunder of colossal scale. Why? I’ll tell you why…

This is what happens here: The editors will gather and have a crisis meeting, discussing the situation that has risen from the publication of bogus WikiLeaks cables. An inquiry committee will be formed that will investigate how such stories were published in the first place and why the source was not checked properly before the report was “lifted” by editors at Online news agency. The editorial top-brass will also announce a new “code of conduct” for the reporting hierarchy and make it clear that there is no room for such errors from now on.

Meeting dismissed and you’ll find the chief editors having pies with coffee and muffins in the cafeterias, joking what next comes from WikiLeaks. Chatting in the very “trendy” half-English half-Urdu lingo, they’ll laugh at how easy it is to get away with such “mistakes” and still fork a hefty paycheque every month. After all, they didn’t write anything against the Islamabad government/establishment, so who cares?

You and me will wake up in the morning, buy a copy of The News, Express Tribune, Nawa-i-Waqt, Jang or other numerous big or small paper and read news while having breakfast. And if you’re still angry on how they duped you into eating the porky pie, a few people in some office canteen will utter a dozen four-letter words while having lunch with eyes glued at the television screen showing Geo News or some other Pakistani news channel that claims to “lead the nation in news and reporting”.

“Burp! These porky pies tasted a bit stale, didn’t they?”

The writer of the above diary is a 27-year-old independent journalist from Pakistan who has been covering media in the country since the last several years. He is a self-proclaimed critic and takes pleasure in discovering the other side of the story. Diary written by Anonymous; Edited & Published by Moign Khawaja.

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