Bloggers Become Source for Mainstream Media in Pakistan

Posted on January 28, 2007
Filed Under >Teeth Maestro, Art & Literature, Law & Justice, Society
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Guest Post by Awab Alvi (Teeth Maestro)

Citizen Journalism, more commonly known as blogging allows anyone the ability to discuss and report an issue or news item immediately, and certainly far sooner then the early morning paper produced by the main stream media. Pakistan is not far behind as blogging is slowly becoming popular and there is no doubt that a time will come when bloggers would be in a position to give the classic paper-based journalists a run for their money.

One such incident appeared just recently at Karachi Metroblog when Jamal Ashiqain a blogger on the network made a post on the Sculptures Along Seaview End Up Stolen early on the morning of January 24th:

Some time back our beach at seaview was blessed with beautiful benches placed on a tiled floor and was beautified with sculptures by our world renowned Artists Amin Gulgee and Anjum Ayaz, placed securely on huge cubical rocks heavy enough to be lifted by cranes. A few days back I visited seaview, I found these heavy rocks void of the beautiful sculptures taunting at the law and order situation of our city. It must have taken some time to chisel off the sculptures from their huge base, but sadly no one noticed it then or even after the crime was committed, the news never made it to any newspaper or TV channel. The sculptures along the beach which promoted our culture and vibrant art scene are almost gone, only a few remain there in place and If proper measures are not taken immediately they will all be gone soon. — Karachi Metroblogs – posted by Jamash at 11:46 AM on January 24, 2007

The very next day, on the 25th, Urooj Zia reports the story in Daily Times which includes an image which ‘appears’ to be a photoshopped version of the picture taken by Jamash a few days earlier, since they don’t attribute credit to the KMB as a source we assume (and also claimed by Urooj Zia in her email exchange with a member of Karachi Metroblogging team) that it was taken by a Daily Times photographer.

But a closer side-by-side comparison does reveal some remarkable similarities, the same shot taken from the same angle, identical shadows being cast across the sculpture having the exact same light source can only lead any observant reader to suspicion. Responding to the post on Karachi Metroblogs Urooj Zia is reported to have said “As for the picture, yaar, insaan buno bhai. I went mad uss din trying to explain the location to our photographer!”

While the following day Dawn reports on the same issue 26th January 2006 Metropolitan Section, page 3, with a completely different set of pictures yet discussing the same story.

It is no use arguing over an image but the team of metrobloggers take this in a positive light to stand proud of having become an important source where the main stream media journalists look to for news stories to later use on their own pages. It should not be long before the bloggers in Pakistan will become a very valuable source of information for upto the minute reporting while the day-old news being published in the classic paper form might be considered old news. The day will come……

Dr. Awab Alvi blogs as Teeth Maestro; this post is based on an original that appeared at Metroblog Karachi, where he also blogs.

17 Comments on “Bloggers Become Source for Mainstream Media in Pakistan”

  1. January 28th, 2007 2:19 am

    I find this very fascinating. I also find the discussion on Karachi Metroblog (KMB) – between the reporter and others – fascinating. But, frankly, I take it as a compliment to KMB that it was a source for a story that was then carried by mainstream papers (Daily Times, Dawn, News). Seems like the reporter did credit the source, if not in the story then at KMG itself on thr original post. (The picture, however, does look suspiciously similar; but sometimes one just has to give the benefit of the doubt.)

    My views on this are colored by the fact that I was a mainstream journalist well before I became a blogger, and for much longer (and therefore understand the pressures journalists have -including of space, which bloggers usually do not have). More importantly, my views on this are colored by the fact we bloggers probably use the mainstream media far MORE than they might use us. So, any gloating may be out of place and not all of us always adhere tothe standards we seem to demand of them. I know I could simply not do ATP without the internet editions of mainstream papers – espeically Daily Times, which along with News and Dawn are my prinical sources for news, opinion and photographs. So, I am very thankful to them. But for them, I woudl not be doing this blog and woudl have far more time on my hand than I now do ;-)

    Congrats Jamsh and Karachi Metrobloggers – and thanks. KMB along with its Lahore and Islamabad siblings, is one of my favorite haunts for ideas and inspirations. Congrats, also, Urooj. You are obviously ahead of the curve on recognizing that blogs are a great medium for knowing what people are really thinking about and getting excited about.

  2. MB says:
    January 28th, 2007 5:07 am

    Nice post Adil. Quite frankly you have said all that I could/would say. And yes we did show a BIG heart and “benefit of the doubt” was awarded to the newspapers but it’s good if newspaper admittedly start sharing content. After all, the whole point is propagating truth in any form at speed.

    Well done ATP. You are doing an excellent job as well along with LMB & IMB. You all guys are great. Keep up the good work.

  3. sid says:
    January 28th, 2007 8:30 am

    And that is not the first time one of our stories has been picked up either.

    Right after my post on Child Sexual Abuse http://karachi.metblogs.com/archives/2006/12/child_abuse_on.phtml on 19th December, Dawn’s Review’s cover story was the same in the Jan 4 edition. I wasnt quoted on anything but the close proximity of both the stories too leads to me believe that we indeed have become a fishing ground for journalists.

    Internationally, blogs are considered a credible source of information. About time, Pakistani journalists gave us some credit.

  4. Deeda-i-Beena says:
    January 28th, 2007 10:40 am

    Is it a Coincidence or What? OR could it be just a case of very good timing?
    Within a few weeks of my ATP Post on “Hamam Geyser and Beyond – Oyeyeyeyeye Paaaaaaani Thandaaaaaaaaa Heyeyeyeye”, the advertisements from Sui Northern started showing Pictures of the Instant Hot Water Heaters AND Conservation methods for the Conventional Geysers.
    GREAT JOB ATP – it seems people in responsibility and authority do pay attention to what you project.

  5. Omar R. Quraishi says:
    January 28th, 2007 10:47 am

    Myself and a couple of other journalists in our organisation routinely look at sites like KMB — to get a flavour of things happening in the city

  6. Daktar says:
    January 28th, 2007 12:13 pm

    I did not really know what a blog was until I first stumbled on Pakistaniat. Of the many things I have learnt here, one is that there is a amazing world of talented Pakistani bloggers out there including the Metroblog (I visit the one in Lahore and Islamabad more but also Karachi regularly). I always start here at Paksitaniat and then follow the Blogs of Note list for adventure trying to find new things in the blogs listed there. I am usually not disappointed. I think blogs have come a long way and while I still rely on the newspapers for real news, I come to Pakistaniat and other blogs to get a sense of what people are thinkin about and always find news that I had missed.

    I agree that this is a compliment. And it is also good reporting for reporters like Urooj and Omar to keep visiting these blogs to be closer to their clients and readers.

  7. Omar R. Quraishi says:
    January 28th, 2007 1:12 pm

    I used to be a reporter Daktar — not anymore — and I think Urooj should have attributed the original source in her newspaper report

  8. Samdani says:
    January 28th, 2007 6:11 pm

    I just went to the Karachi blog and followed the long discussion on this issue. At first I thought it was interesting that the reporter and the bloggers were talking through this. But teh more I read teh more childish the slinging of accusations became. Which is sad, because the real story (about the changing nature of the media) is an interesting one but was lost on everyone it seemed. Of course, the MOST IMPORTANT part of thsi is not whose picture it was but what happened to the statues and why. That is the real tragedy. So I went to the very thoughtful original post by Jamash, which was a much better discussion.

    I am posting this here just because I think they are already beyond this discussion, but we may want to also think about who would vandalize these sculptures, why, and what this says about Pakistaniat?

  9. Karachiwala says:
    January 28th, 2007 11:12 pm

    Interesting that major pieces of art were stolen from a major site in Karachi, and the ATP writers marvel at the wonders of blogging rather than the theft of art!

    ATP sounded just like the DHA chief, who when told about the theft of the statues remarked: “None of the sculptures have been stolen,â€

  10. Farrukh says:
    January 29th, 2007 1:24 pm

    Dear Karachiwalla, maybe you missed the comment right above yours and the reference there and in the post to the earlier discussion on exactly that point. Our treatment of art.

  11. zamanov says:
    January 29th, 2007 1:58 pm

    Karachiwala I wholeheartedly agree with your point that it is the theft of public art that should be discussed here not the self-importance of bloggers.

    As an avid Sea View runner whenever I visit Karachi, I was impressed with this initiative when these art works were first put up a few years ago. Many residents who live nearby or visited the beach admired these pieces of art even if they did not understand their intent or message. Public art is something that is ignored for its many benefits to the cultural vibrancy and the aesthetic value of a space. As is common with so many public artifacts and landmarks in Pakistan it wasn’t long before people started to deface these scupltures.

    When I last saw them in 2005 there were disgusting “paan” stains, trash and graffiti on almost all of these artifacts. The awaam had not spared even the Quranic calligraphy pieces (We are equal opportunity destroyers!) The DHA janitorial staff cleans (or tries to atleast!) the beach area every morning but absolutely no attention was given to the support bases or the actual sculpted pieces on display. The denigration and disintegration of this public art suffered a fate common to so many Pakistani projects: they start with a bang and end in a whimper with ignominy.

    The theft or removal of these art pieces is yet another symbol of the decay prevalent in the cultural sensibilities of this society. What is shameful is that the government departments (the untouchable Cantonment Board, the looters called DHA, and the infamous Police) refuse to acknowledge or even offer a token investigation for the theft of these pieces. Ironically the original installation was approved by the DHA themselves!
    But as usual this is not surprising given that this is the same beach where the Tasman Spirit leaked its noxious cargo and nothing has been heard ever since on the human health hazards or loss to marine life (what happened of the insurance claims?). Where thousands of residents show up on weekends and leave behind a nasty beach with all kinds of trash and bodily fluids. In a city where there is no dignity for human life and no value for its natural or cultural heritage the loss of a few works of public art is not news.
    The journalists out there should try to find out what the artist Anjum Ayaz thinks of this theft.

  12. zamanov says:
    January 29th, 2007 2:20 pm

    As far as mainstram media is concerned the journalists/reporters out there should focus less on opinion (and opinionated blogs) and instead provide the public with fact-based investigative journalism on the real issues that are affecting the lives of Karachiites as we speak/blog:

    - The humungous waste of public money on the KPT water fountain project.
    - Follow up on the Tasman Spirit fiasco, its long term effect on the Karachi beaches and what ever happened to the claim filed against the shipping company?
    - Disaster plans of the DHA and CDGK in the event of a typhoon or earthquake in Karachi (what have we learned about contingency planning/disaster management from the earthquake of 2005?)
    - The future of the Sea View beach purported in the grandiose plans of DHA.
    - The run off of vast amounts of untreated industrial and human waste into the sea.
    - The funds allocated by the CCB, DHA and CDGK to beach clean up and upkeep (including the new Ibn-Qasim bagh).
    - The effect of massive pollution on the marine ecosystem along Karachi’s coast.
    - The DHA/CCB Desalination plant.
    - The Bundal Islands project.
    - What the CDGK/relevant authority plans to do with the world-famous tourist attractions of Boating Basin naala and Gutter Bagheecha?

    Instead of a thousand opinions we need to know the facts on where this city stands and where it is headed in order to have any chance to fight for its survival.

  13. MB says:
    January 29th, 2007 3:36 pm

    Excellent suggestions Zamanov. I completely agree with you that fact based investigative journalism is missing. And also an important aspect which not only the newspapers but the electronic media is missing is the follow up. The events that are being reported are not being followed up properly. Mukhtara Mai case was a big example in which the HRCP & WESTERN gov. took the matter to International level for their own reasons instead of our journalist taking it to the court room of people & following it up.

    Another aspect is the journalist seem too busy with few typical issues like Mushy, wardi, MMA, PPP deal etc. Instead of picking up ground breaking stories related to common man. One such example is the GEO programs where the only topic is the above mentioned issues. Only in not-so-important programs that you will see a 5 or 10 min clip regarding real issues. One of that being our education. I have failed to see any work on that on our media. Health & services being other one. Population , Joblessness etc are ignored too.

  14. IMRAN says:
    January 29th, 2007 7:25 pm

    There are many stories here. One is lack of respect for public property. The second is lack of respect for art of any form. The third this no interest by police in protecting public property. And fourth, if you follow the discussion on the original website Metroblog is how we cannot talk decently and without fighting about anything. All of these are sad stories.

  15. Omar R. Quraishi says:
    January 31st, 2007 3:05 pm

    zamanov you obviously have not been reading newspapers in pakistan or know what it is to be a journalist in pakistan

  16. February 6th, 2007 4:53 am

    [...] Aawab Alvi of All Things Pakistan cites example how blogs (or citizen journalists) are becoming source for mainstream media in Pakistan. [...]

  17. AAA says:
    October 20th, 2007 1:58 am

    Do the mainstream newspapers reference the blogs they have obtained information from?
    I thought the idea they were mainstream was because they were more credible sources as they had restrictions on them due to being part of being a paper which should require some checks before they publish a story. Look and feel, and the domainname of a blog doesn’t mean a lot.
    Or at least reference where you are getting your information from so we can regard your sources with respect, or respect you along the same lines.

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