Browsing "The News"

Immy K and his band of morons against Geo

Those who know me and have been reading my blog for sometime know that there is no love lost between Imran Khan and yours truly. I mock his supporters (because what else can one do with those who flaunt their stupidity), I lament the fact that some people in my family voted for his party and I mourn the collective short sightedness of my people who do not see how terrible it is to have a dim-witted man in position of power and influence.

Latest in the list of his stupidities is his self righteous fight against Geo Television Network. Before anyone get their panties in a twist, let me iterate that I am not a fan of Geo either (I have worked for the organization and know it inside out) but the witch hunt against Geo that is being spearheaded by Imran Khan and his band of morons (I refuse to call PTI a political party) at the behest of Pakistani Voldemort is rather vulgar and in incredibly bad taste.

Imran Khan accused Geo Network of three gross violations (according to him). First was telecasting a programme against Ahl-e-Bait (family of prophet) in the morning show (they aired a qawwali which is quite common at Shia weddings), one PTI parliamentarian moved a resolution against it in Punjab assembly because there is nothing more worthy of the attention of a legislator than something that was aired on a morning show targeting house wives. Second was running a campaign against Imran Khan. What Mr Khan considered a campaign against him was this tweet by The News staffer Umer Cheema about the pregnancy of a barely legal girl and a politician. It was exactly worded like this: “Pregnancy of a 21-year girl is causing sleepless nights to a leader. His political future in her hands…the most powerful lady these days” on April 29th. No politician was named in that tweet but apparently Imran Khan went to every Tv channel and said that Umer Cheema tweeted about him. The man doth protests too much, does he not? One wonders why? Umer Cheema did follow up with a couple of other teeli tweets. I bet Imran Khan was not too pleased to be called a senior citizen and I am only assuming that because Cheema again did not name anyone.

Mr Khan is also blaming Geo for getting foreign funding which is oversimplification of a contract between the channel, the government and a donor agency. Even a simpleton like Imran Khan should understand how the whole funding process works; after all, his government in KPK has taken a lot of foreign funding to run various projects in their province. No donor agency funds a private organization directly and one or more government departments are always involved.

As someone who was part of Geo when they ran the first Zara Sochiye Campaign (2006) and then worked as an independent consultant during the Education Emergency campaign (2011), I know exactly how Geo got funding for both of them. For the first Zara Sochiye Campaign (which I believe was brilliant) Geo was contacted by the government to pave the public opinion before it launched Women Protection Bill in the parliament. The fact that the said bill was passed and the number of women in Pakistani jails booked under Hudood ordinance came down drastically should be considered a success – both for the government and the channel that ran the campaign. The second Zara Sochiye campaign was paid for by DfID which Geo President Imran Aslam openly talks about in this BBC interview. It should also be noted that various government departments including Prime Minister’s Task Force for Education (it has been disbanded after the promulgation of 18th amendment and education becoming a provincial subject) facilitated the contract between DfID and Geo. The Task Force was actually housed inside the PM’s secretariat at that time so yes, the government was involved in everything. Many other TV channels that are now part of the witch hunt against Geo wanted to do that campaign. The Alif Ailan campaign which was a follow up to that earlier campaign ran on all TV channels was also foreign funded, but I don’t see anyone protesting against that. Why this duplicity?

If Mr. Khan is so adamant about running campaigns against foreign funding, he should first run it against Pakistan Army because the armed forces of Pakistan get the lion’s share of all foreign funding that comes to the country. Then it is the national and provincial governments including the one run by Khan sahab’s party. Private organizations and non profits are far down this chain and get very small amounts in comparison.

People who run Geo’s editorial staff are obviously not the sharpest people around, otherwise they would not have run that 8 hour long transmission against ISI following the attack on Hamid Mir, but the witch hunt that followed them after that is worst that those 8 hours of transmission. Forget about upholding the sanctity of free speech in Pakistan, we all know that it is but a sham, but it should be noted that Geo is not a two bit organization, it probably employs more people than there are card carrying members of PTI. Going after their livelihood because some people did not like what went on during those 8 hours of transmission in this manner is downright cruel. Geo was not the best employer in the industry but it definitely was one of the better and relatively more professional ones. In case Geo is closed down, the media industry is not big enough to absorb all those people. For their sake alone if for nothing else, I hope this witch hunt is called off and their livelihoods are not compromised.

Let’s wish that sanity prevails but my cynicism tells me that it would not be the case.

A person’s womb and gestation is a private matter, even if that person happens to be Meera!

Of late, I have been visiting the media and communications departments of a few universities and speaking with students about how to sift through the clutter, focus on the news and cut out the irrelevant bits and pieces so that every news item should be crisp, precise and most of all accurate and free of embellishments. 
I have innumerable print and video clips that tell us what NOT to do while writing a report or making a package. Unfortunately, clips that show us good ethical journalism are rare. Try as I may, pieces where the reporter and/or his editor have applied basic critical thinking tools and journalistic ethics are hard to come by. However some reports are so bad they do not even care for a even a minimum degree of professionalism and print slanderous, unsubstantial and at times damaging stories that serve no purpose other than humiliating people and provide salacious fodder for the voyeuristic amongst us. This report about Meera’s alleged abortion by the horrible horrible Jang group is one such example.
For starters, this report is about a very private matter of a woman and should not have been published. Getting an abortion under any circumstances is a private matter and should be dealt as such. But the reporter Shahab Ansari not only reported the incident, he milked it for what it was worth and added other unnecessary detail. For instance, when the doctor told him that the abortion was carried out due to no fetal activity, he chose to speculate if the actress had carried out actions to stop that fetal activity of which he had no proof. Even if it had been true, the matter is private and not open to public debate. You and I and that reporter have no right to determine what a mother should or should not have done. We should NOT be interested in another person’s womb and gestation activity, period.  
He also speculated that Meera wanted to conduct the DNA test of the fetus which obviously is no one’s business but the moron of a reporter had to add this bit to make the news more masalaydaar for lack of a better word.
The doctor at the hospital should be stripped of her medical practice license for divulging all the private details of her patient’s medical history. I request all the Lahori ladies looking for ob/gyn services should boycott Dr Shahida Khawaja and her hospital for breaking the patient doctor confidentiality code. Shame on you Dr Khawaja, shame on you.
The reporter chose to end the report with a veiled threat citing Section 338 of the Pakistan Penal code which basically says that a whoever causes a woman with child whose organs have not been formed, to miscarry is said to cause ‘Isqat-i-Haml’ and is liable to a punishment of a minimum of three years imprisonment if the abortion is performed by the woman’s consent.
We have insulted the life choices of our celebrities many a times, be it Veena Malik’s nude shoot or Shoaib Akhtar’s medical records, giving the reason that the celebrities ask for it by being in the limelight. But what about this incident when it is obvious that Meera is trying hard to keep a personal issue to herself? The reporter not only reported what happened but also speculated to make her come across as a woman of loose morals who has no idea who the father of her unborn baby was. Asking her father-in-law who has been hostile towards her in the past was just adding more masala to an already sordid saga.
If the current lot of journalists resort to the worst form of yellow journalism, no matter what we teach our kids in media schools will be useless because the market tells them that this is the trash that sells. If a market leader with a lot of money like Jang group indulges in this type of sensational and scandalous crap then there is no hope for smaller cash strapped media houses.
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