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Is it fair to blame the media for Pakistan’s image as a ‘terrorist’ state?


FC personnel gather in Mastung on July 13, 2018, following a bomb blast here at an election rally. Photo: AFP

Blaming the media for Pakistan’s image is “all too easy” as it is very convenient to shoot the messenger.

“We have to very calmly accept that the media is a mirror that is reflecting what is happening,” said journalist Quatrina Hosain while speaking on the second day of the International Conference on Media and Conflict on Wednesday.

The media is not involved in fiction writing, she said. Censorship is counter-productive. The state serves no one by trying to hide, change or distort reality, Hosain remarked. It is the job of the media to work through these distortions and it is getting harder.

“You would not tell a doctor how to do surgery, so don’t tell us how to report,” she said. Everyone thinks it is easy to pick up a microphone and become a journalist, she said, adding that she is not a fan of citizen journalism. 

Terrorism is not new to Pakistan. Its speed and intensity took us by surprise, she said.

Related: Who was Hayatullah Khan and why should we all know him?

“We are confused about our identity whether it’s tribal or Muslim or terrorist,” Hosain said. She added that it’s about time that academia works to fill the huge gaps in our historical narrative. “How many authentic books do we have on what happened in 1971?” We have done a great disservice to the young people by not writing it all down and filling those gaps, she added.

Print vs TV

Print journalism had its own prestige, value and dignity and was somewhat remote. Journalists were craftsmen and were honing their craft. That changed with television, Hosain explained.

When journalism was print, it had elegance and respect. Everyone thought it became easy once it started entering people’s homes via television, she remarked.

TV exploded on to the national scene just one generation ago. We did not have breaking news channels and we were not ready for it. We did not have the concept of city and regional channels where people were groomed before moving to national channels.

The print media has done a significantly better job by producing more relevant and precise content than TV, she added.

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