May 7, 2009

Electronic media criticized for promoting sensationalism

By TV Explore

Speakers at a seminar urged the electronic media to voluntarily formulate a code of ethics in order to end what they termed a ‘culture of sensationalism’ which is ultimately damaging the national interests besides having a negative impact on people’s psychology.

The seminar titled ‘Role of Electronic Media in the Development of Democratic Culture’ was organised at the Preston University here on Wednesday in which speakers shared their experiences.

Those who spoke on the occasion criticised the media, especially the electronic one, “for creating hype of an event or happening without knowing or confirming the facts.” They said that it was the responsibility of the media to put national interests on top priority and urged it not to break news until and unless it was verified.

Pakistan Television (PTV) Director B A Malik said that it was an unfortunate fact that 160 million Pakistanis don’t know the exact definition of the term ‘democracy’. “Each one of them has his or her own definition, which does not at all tally with the actual definition of the process,” he said.

He said that democracy in its true spirit cannot be found in any part of the world but there are a few countries where it exists in its advanced stages. “The US, France and Britain are among a few countries, which are at advanced stages of the democratic process.” He said that Pakistan is a country “where we haven’t decided yet about the authenticity of the democratic system.” “Some people are calling it ‘Kufr’ while others are terming it an ideal system to remove various ills prevailing in society,” he said.

Malik said that the role of the media could not be defined in making people aware about the importance of this system. “The role of the media is to educate people rather than confuse them by showing Sufi Mohammad’s views on democracy.” He said that the electronic media in developing countries creates more confusion instead of educating or mending the thoughts of people. “Every channel has its own agenda, as for them, it is a business and they have to make money out of it,” he said.

He said that Pakistan was founded more than 60 years ago “but we are still indulging in a futile debate regarding the authenticity of the Constitution.” “Terrorism prevails in every country but those countries have a consensus over the document called Constitution, which we are not doing,” he said. He stated “Democracy cannot be implanted as it is a gradual process that grows with the passage of time. “The electronic media should understand its responsibility in bringing the real issues in front of the people rather than wasting their energies on non-issues,” he said.

Dean of the IT Department at Preston University Professor Syed Shahid presented a research paper on democracy, which he completed in a span of more than two years. “The media has grown but it is the people’s participation, which is missing in order to implement a true democratic system in the country.” He said that there is a substantial difference between the Pakistani and Indian democratic systems. “In Pakistan, the gap between the rich and poor is increasing day-by-day but in the Indian system, the rich are moving forward along with taking the poor with them,” he said.

PTV Chairman Ashfaq Ahmed Gondal said that people are being misled with the invasion of news channels. “Allowing so many private channels all of a sudden has created problems, as they are not trained in doing their jobs,” he said. He said that as many as 59 channels were launched in a span of five years but there was no human resource available for the programmes of news and current affairs. He said “The untrained people in the electronic media have ruined the image of the media nationally and internationally.” He said that there should be a code of ethics for the media and they must be bound to keep national interests as their first priority while telecasting any news.

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