Rahimia Magazine (April, 2014)
We are living in the age of information technology and media communication. Media has gained huge importance in our lives and is influencing our social, economic, political, educational and cultural matters. Even our minds and thought process is getting affected by it. In our region of Indo-Pak subcontinent, print media has a history of outstanding participation in the struggle of independence. Its founding writers set startling examples of truth, honesty, bravery and loyalty towards national interests. In the dark era of British imperialism, these writers held the flag of truth and freedom with unwavering commitment and dignity.
Unfortunately, media has been transformed into a commercial industry after independence in 1947. Attainment of capital and power by hook or by crook became the ultimate objective of this industry. Thus, media turned into a tool of state exploitative system instead of supporting truth, collective welfare and human rights of oppressed citizens of state. With the advancement in science and technology, electronic media started to replace print media with its widespread popularity and appeal. Better late than never, electronic media has flourished in Pakistan and at present about one hundred channels are broadcasting their transmission across the country.
Introduction of electronic media in Pakistan was abrupt. Majority of print media reporters, columnists and analysts started to appear on media screens of private television channels. Their conversion from print to electronic media required proper training, skill set and responsible behavior which were neglected altogether. In print media, only words and subject influence the reader whereas in electronic media, body language of the analyst and environment of the surroundings also play their part in affecting the minds of viewers. This difference was neglected by all sorts of channels in our media which resulted in the creation of mental and psychological conflicts and ideological confusions.
Electronic media is a great blessing and utility of the modern age. It can be used to propagate true ideology of Islam and system of peace and compassion to the whole world. It can also be used to educate and train citizens of the country and to highlight their real problems. This institution can play the role of guardian of human rights and a shelter for common man against state oppression in the form of feudalism or capitalism.Unfortunately, media has failed to fulfill its responsibility like majority of other institutions in our country. For Example, police department around the world is supposed to protect lives and belongings of citizens. But in our country, it is only used for the protection of the powerful elite and for the suppression of common man. Due to corruption and poor functionality, people are hopeless and afraid of police institution in terms of their security concerns. Similarly,media is infected with large scale corruption.Sole purpose of different channels is to safeguard and flourish the interests of their owners.
In order to increase their ratings, it is a normal practice for our media channels to ignore human ethics and morality. For instance, two youngsters were brutally tortured and killed in Sialkot but the cameraman who was filming this incident took no measure to save those youngsters. Similarly, a British photographer captured the sight of beasts tearing apart the body of a dying human being. He declared this picture a masterpiece of fine arts which is a horrible example of inhuman and immoral behavior.As a result of such irresponsible depiction of events, humanistic values of compassion and sympathy for others are gradually vanishing from our society and every tragedy is nothing more than a numbers game of how many people got killed, injured or affected in a particular incident.
Talk shows and other news programs are crowded by a particular bunch of people which has no habit of book reading or any literary inclination. Television channels have cleverly transported the majority of its viewers into an artificial world. Apart from wastage of precious time, it has resulted into a closed box mentality of the viewers and destroyed their creative and analytical capabilities. It is a mental cancer that attacks the very centers of freedom, innovation and rational thinking in the human brain.Today, media sets the role models, priorities and values of our society. Most of the television programs and drama stories constitute violence, glamour, sensuality, greed, hatred and revenge as their dominant ingredients. People tend to accept these negative behaviors as pragmatic and effective tools of daily human life.By narrowing down the mentality of its viewers through unrealistic and falsely depiction of the world, people are forced to embrace the distorted identification of their society. Inevitably, this affects the mentality and behaviors of people in a very negative way.
In addition to men and women of our society, innocent children are also a victim of this social disease. Around the age of five years, children start acquiring the knowledge and understanding of their basic beliefs, values and traditions. Every child is smart, intelligent and progressive in a particular way. Their minds have an ability to absorb and accept almost everything transmitted to them. Thus, a clean and constructive learning environment is essential for children so that their inborn capabilities can be polished and utilized in different fields of social life.Unfortunately, our media steals their creative minds, talents and precious time through harmful and meaningless programs.
Media affects human societies by shaping up their politics, culture, traditions, behaviors, thought process, manners and morals. But who owns and control this media and television channels is the most significant aspect of this whole discussion. All of our media networks are subsidiaries of an international media complex. Media is extremely effective tool of Capitalist economic and political system. It is used to harness particular attitudes and an environment which is conducive for the exploitative values of capitalist society. Thus, media is providing useful services for the propagation and protection of capitalism. In capitalism, freedom of press is an attractive illusion. Only that much freedom is granted which does not hinder the protection and growth of capital. Hence, in order to draw a fair opinion about the media of any society, it is unrealistic to ignore the interests and policies of international capitalist powers and their allies in the national political and economic system of that society.
It is mandatory that we redesign our broadcasting policy and set our national priorities. These priorities include the freedom of channels from the influence of capital and vested interests of media tycoons. Media should serve the responsibility of educational and ideological grooming of nation so that we can get rid of mental distortion and ideological confusion. This will enable us to participate in the collective struggle for the progress and prosperity of our country.
Translation: Muhammad Usman, Faisalabad