Issues in media ethics — II
Their coverage by the media misleads the audience. They take them as very important only because of the coverage given to them by national media. In that way, media is inflating them by giving them injections of fake or artificial fame. I, use the term of “artificial fame” for such persons, they are in-genuine publicity mongers who have not become famous in a natural way for any extra ordinary qualities, but have been inflated by the injections of media coverage. Generally people call them “Kagzi Pehlewan” or “Akhbari Ishtihari Log”. These people with “artificial fame” are famous because of their good relations with media people or the power of the purse which can purchase time and space of media. Common people generally are not aware of such realities and ironically for them fame (real or artificial) is comparable with quality and credibility. This is another very big loss which media can cause to a society, and we are experiencing it.
Another practice contributing to the general disappointment is coverage of corruption and crimes without any efforts to investigate the matters thoroughly. In China, no crime news is reported by the media. Nevertheless, The decisions of punishment for the criminals are published and broadcast. It is only after the punishments that the people generally know about the crimes. It has very healthy impact on the society. Can be learn anything from this experience?
Working journalists have complaints with their employers for not providing them enough time and resources for investigating reporting. If with their own resource and extra struggle they come up with exclusive dug out stories they are generally discouraged. There is no dearth of talented journalist who can reach the real causes of the short fall of electricity, attitudes of bureaucrats and politicians adopted deliberately to discourage the out-standing and genius youth for the brain drain purpose. These are the people who can bring revolution in science and technology and country’s economic growth, there is no one to note how these people are being dealt and what tragedies were faced by such people that tried to do some real work for the benefit of the nation. There are journalists who have access to such realities which they can’t dare to publish because of threat to their lives. One can enumerate many horrible stories about our economy and about continual flee of billions of dollars to the west.
There is also a dire need to protect our economic Kohota. In the presence of severe threats journalists cannot disclose the evils that hinder in the way of our economic prosperity, ethical practices and professionalism of media. How can we expect ethical practices from them until and unless our politicians and rulers break their alliances with mafia and stop taking instructions from their foreign bosses?
Media also need to think about their role in providing the nation a problem solving system with the help of which the nation should easily solve its problems on continual basis whenever and where ever they arise. This problem solving system is replacing the blind emotionalism with rational thinking and propaganda with objectivity. Media has a role to play for it.
Media need to pay more attention to its educational role. More coverage to developmental issues. More use of documentaries and feature articles for general education of the masses. Presently, media’s lifeblood ie advertising revenue mainly comes from the multi nationals’ stream. They have their own agenda and media is influenced by their agenda more than any other side. There is a need to conduct intensive research for this influence. Civil society is also playing its role through civil media and has its own impact. Civil rights activists and other players need to determine their agenda in light of national needs and then react and check the national media and its negative influence. Letters to the editors and phone calls from the audiences and viewers could be a major check to the directionless content and negative influence of media.
We must create an awareness of the Concept of Information Economy in our people. People must know that those who don’t have their own objectives are always used by those who have their objectives. People should have their own agenda first and then they should make use of the media otherwise they should always find themselves puzzled. They should know why they have to use media? For information or entertainment and for how many hours they will use media? It is only our schedule and clarity of mind which can save us from the negative effects of media. For using the letters and phone calls check civil society activists should motivate the people to use this check. —Concluded
—The writer is Chairman Media and Communication Department, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Karakoram International University, Gilgit.