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.