Archive | April, 2012

Pimping the impact of sight

21 Apr

Hajjaj Bin Yousuf was probably one of the worst tyrants Islamic history has ever seen. He killed men by tens of thousands, attacked companions of Prophet SAW and targeted the Kaaba itself. While many would frown at the last deed the most, Prophet SAW himself valued believer’s life more than the Kaaba itself according to the hadith. And why wouldn’t he? Human life is precious. There are many other examples in history of ┬áthe world as well of butchers of human bodies. When we read about them today, words can not make the same impact today compared to those who would have seen them. In modern times, such acts are unheard of. Because tyrants of today have gotten smarter. Now they use flying aircrafts if they need to kill tens of thousands. Apparently explosions do not make that much of an impact as may be someone executing enemies in a conventional throat slitting ways. So tyrants of today end up getting nobel prize for ending the wars they themselves fueled.

In May 2008 an angry mob in Karachi set two thieves on fire. From that point onward there have been few other cases of mob justice in Karachi where some culprits have been beaten to death while some paraded with blackened faces. Of course the trend is not limited to Karachi. Most recently, in Multan a robber who was involved in a murder, was stoned to death by the angry mob. His accomplice after seeing the man’s face took his own life to ‘save’ himself from being on the receiving end of such a fate.

But none of these incidents created a stir and shock that happened after the Sialkot incident when two alleged robber brothers were beaten to death with bats and sticks. I have never experienced being burnt alive or getting a beat of a lifetime so I wouldn’t know which case would have been worse. But I imagine being burned alive wouldn’t be any less painful than being beaten to death.

But why the Karachi incident did not incite the same reaction as the Sialkot one? Why no blogs/articles/tweets/re-tweets were shared for that incident?

The reason is simple. Sialkot incident was captured by a device which is commonly known as ‘camera’. When people saw that horrible scene most were dumb founded. Many claim they could not sleep properly for days. The memory of that incident probably lives in every house of Pakistan which owns a TV. The Almighty camera did the trick and gave every one some reason to bitch around a bit more. Articles, their rebuttals, talk shows, news etc were all about that incident for the few coming days.

In today’s world we need to see the picture to be jolted (only for a moment though) to remind us that there are children dying in Africa or being killed in Israel.

And in the battle of today’s ratings for TV channels the best way is to find a way to make people watch the channel or talk about it. So no matter how disturbing the content is, if you are in-charge of news room of a Pakistani channel, all you need to do is NEVER LET THE CAMERA TURN OFF! The gorier the better. You need to capture the event thoroughly, gloat about being the first TV channel to give live coverage to the incident, make your crew shove microphones in front of affected people of any tragedy (better if they are crying at that moment) and edit the videos by adding some cheesy songs to it.

I once saw news editor in chief of a major English newspaper speak in a talk show in which he was harping about the fact that media does not need to have any code imposed on it as it can rectify its own mistakes. The show was about the fallout of infamous Maya Khan incident. Interestingly after some weeks when people’s memory faded away, Maya Khan was hired by another news channel where she is still hosting the show while gloating about her piety all the while.

That can be excused as a non serious issue. But what to do with the style of media reporting of incidents like the Bhoja Air crash? Our media has become a mafia which does not want to be tamed, neither is interested in rectifying its own mistakes as it has not happened for the first time. The memory of Air Blue crash has not yet faded away. That time as well, every one criticized media and its role as harshly as anyone could but when the same thing happens within the second anniversary year of that incident, why there is no change in the attitude of reporting? Media wants to become the sole morality judge while does not wish itself to be under any kind of scrutiny. And than some people have the audacity to cry about unnecessary censorships. Free speech is practiced across many countries. In how many of them, have channels been showing constant corpses, melodramatic musicals of national tragedies, take interviews of terrorists or give air time to people calling for/supporting the murder of the governor of its biggest province?

Reason why media is in such a state may have multiple factors behind it. But to illustrate one of them let us take a quiz, shall we?

Q 1. Which channel does the most awful melodramatic reporting?
Q 2. Which channel do you tune into whenever you wish to know details of any breaking news?

If the answer of both of the above questions is the same channel, than I guess it can give you the fair idea of why there has been no improvement in our way of reporting.

When I heard the news of the tragedy yesterday I switched off all the news channels. But due to bad habits and addiction, could not really sign off from my social sites. Many people were citing many examples of how disgusted they were feeling of the corpses being shown, ridiculous questions being asked from victim’s families and the obnoxious lust of news channels. Why not switch the damn TV off if it is bothering you that much?

Until we learn to use our remote control, I am afraid no matter how many tweets or blogs are written, the behavior of media will hardly change.

They should rethink their strategies again though. Kevin Carter who won the Pulitzer prize for his photograph of the Sudanese kid besides the vulture, ended up committing suicide.