ATP Poll: Grading Pakistan’s News Media

Posted on September 28, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, Society, TV, Movies & Theatre
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Adil Najam

We know that ATP readers are tough graders. In the past you have graded the performance of Pakistan’s current leadership (also here) as well as Pakistan’s past leadership  – for good as well as for bad (also here). We ask you now to grade the performance of Pakistan’s media.

Most people agree that the news media has played a very influential role in shaping Pakistan’s current politics – some might say, for the good; others might argue, for the bad? What do you say?

Our focus here is on the news media. We are purposely not asking you which particular TV channel or newspaper or radio station you like. That is a matter of preference, and often of political persuation. It is important, but is not the intent of this ATP Poll. We also understand that you probably think that some media outfits are doing a great job and that others are not. That, too, is not the question.

What we seek is your opinion of how the media – as a whole and in its entirety – is doing? Of course, some will be better than others; and others worse than some. But when you look at all the media – in all its mediums – together, how do you rate them? Good, bad, or ugly?

24 Comments on “ATP Poll: Grading Pakistan’s News Media”

  1. Riaz Haq says:
    September 28th, 2009 1:40 am

    One of the key roles of the mass media in a democracy is to highlight the most important issues faced by the nation and force a debate among the politicians and citizens on such issues.

    For example, there are fundamental, long term issues of human development, education, health care, economic development, jobs creation, public safety, ill effects of unrestrained feudal power, and official and politcal corruption that get very little attention while the media whip up a frenzy about hunting down Musharraf or bashing the military, or sensationalizing the crises of the day without providing a broader context.

    In short, the media in Pakistan is failing in its very basic responsibility to educate and inform the public and to inspire a constructive debate about the nation’s economic, political and military future.

  2. Javed says:
    September 28th, 2009 1:42 am

    Overall, I think teh media has played a net positive role.

    Even though it is sensationalist and a lot of talk talk talk with cheap shouting matches, but it has forced politicians to be careful and has exposed many and keep them on toes.

    I gave them a B.

  3. Ayesha says:
    September 28th, 2009 1:59 am

    I think the media is very sensational. And it has not done much good. In fact it has divided nation even more.

  4. AllahWasaya says:
    September 28th, 2009 2:32 am

    I gave it a ‘D’. Their only real mission thus far seems to gather more viewership and I don’t blame them for that, but the means they often resort to, to achieve their goals are downright absurd. They still have a very long way to go before they mature, but at least they are on track, lets give’em another decade or so, but so far they are a ‘D’

  5. Natasha says:
    September 28th, 2009 5:28 am

    They’ve been good so far.Got a long way to go before being categorized as ‘excellent’.

  6. Tina says:
    September 28th, 2009 5:56 am

    They have exposed a small sample of the more spectacular/titillating abuses of power but don’t really fulfill the required role of “watchdog”. I don’t think the media in Pakistan is very interested in this role either, although they don’t appear to be in fear of the govt. I gave them a “D”–they do get some small credit for tackling stories like the women buried alive in Baluchistan, etc. But not too much :(

  7. Pakistani says:
    September 28th, 2009 7:36 am

    Pakistani News media comprises of the print and electronic media.

    I think the print media is still has a lot of credibility and in the years they have started focussing on the issues of common man.

    The electronic media still has a long way to go. Couple of things in recent past have put a dent on the real purpose of media:

    Here are some examples:

    1. The recent “Imtiaziation” of all the news channels where at one point the same person was on the talkshow exactly at the same time.I had literally turn off the TV. Is this acceptable ?

    2. Uncensored Talkshows where the two women political leaders engaged in abusive language and the anchor who himself is a renowned columnist sits and watches.

    3. Anchors / Journalists who try to push their agenda and sometimes don’t let the guest speak up.

    4.Breaking news for. MQM chief speeches ? And not of the speeches of PM and President.

    6.Headlines showing the new movies of Shahrukh Khan. Does this really a headline ?

  8. September 28th, 2009 9:40 am

    Some comments from the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “Yak Yak Yakety Yak……Mostly Table Talk!”
    - “Good poll. I voted and gave them a B. There is a lot of chatter, but overall they do keep politicians honest because the politicians are afraid.”
    - “C. mostly rubbish on non issues”
    - “Well i dont think so that politicians are much afraid of media but pak media can be more stronger n can play a role in pak future but they are not so good if media is plying a role then there is no way that these moron leaders can rule us again”
    - “great source to spread dis-information except a few.”
    - “should be closely monitered n must b answerable otherwise good”
    - “koi ek banda sincere nai hai mulk k lye kaam krne k lye; sb ko goli mar do…”
    - “media ko bi kch zaida hi azadi de di hai; halaq se nai utar rahi…”
    - “mere halaq se nai; media k halaq se…”
    - “”

  9. Hamza says:
    September 28th, 2009 9:51 am

    I understand the point of amalgamating the print and electronic media together, but we won’t be able to infer anything from the results. I would suggest that you use two polls, one for the print media and one for the electronic media.

    I think the print media has always done a great job. The electronic media, however, gets a far lower grade. Most of our news channels, it seems, tend to resemble Fox News (sensationalist, tabloid like, profit driven) rather than the BBC (more neutral, pursuit of public interest stories).

  10. Adam Insaan says:
    September 28th, 2009 11:13 am



    and then ad ; ba

    ——-> bad

  11. Jauhar says:
    September 28th, 2009 12:34 pm

    Pretty much the entire Urdu print and electronic media gets an “F” in my opinion for their jingoistic coverage and spreading of conspiracy theories. The only saving grace seems to be the English media especially papers like Dawn who adhere to very high standards of journalism and ethics.

  12. Raza says:
    September 28th, 2009 2:15 pm

    I think DAWN newspaper still does a decent job…But the TV channels (including DAWN’s TV channel) seem to be in a shameful state of chasing their own tails….While they are doing a good job for taking the news/stories to the masses that are unable to read and for holding government accountable to some degree …. their relentless pursuit of jingoisam and idiocy analogous to US Fox News Channel and Jerry Springer Show has become sickening.

  13. Aamir Ali says:
    September 28th, 2009 2:31 pm

    I agree that the entire Urdu print media deserves a grade of F, with the exception of Hassan Nassar and a sprinkling of other columnists who write through logic. I would give the electronic media, both English and Urdu a grade of C. The English print media also deserves a C.

    Overall the media in Pakistan is heavily biased, spreads conspiracy and panic, is anti-government and anti-military to the point of rebellion (not good), and engaged in political alliances.

    The worst sin the Pakistani media has committed in recent years has been its glorification of terrorists and extremists. I remember when Nek Mohammed, the father of the Pakistani Taliban was killed in 2004, Dawn described it as a “murder”. Recently the media portrayed Lal Masjid gangsters as heroes. The propaganda of the militants that “Pakistan Army is killing its own people for dollars” was pushed relentlessly by the press .

  14. cynic says:
    September 28th, 2009 2:52 pm

    it is high time we should start criticising the critics. it seems there is a race going on between various tv anchors to show who can be more jingoistic. although freedom to access the news is a good thing, it needs to be exercised within the bounds of decency and common sense. i always argue that with the passage of time the media will mature. but at times i have my doubts, especially when relatively saner journalists start acting arrogantly.

  15. Owais Mughal says:
    September 28th, 2009 6:47 pm

    I believe DAWN is the only news media which does not go into sensationalism.

  16. ali says:
    September 28th, 2009 10:11 pm

    By and large the Pakistani media has shown substantial improvement in technology, style of delivery and of course breaking news where all media is in a rush to screen it up first or print it up first,this is good competition.Some dramas I have heard have been well presented and have been appreciated by the audiences.Dispatches given directly by correspondents from the site shows you exactly what happened and where it happened.If we look at our TV which started telecasting in 1967( in Karachi) used to telecast for about 4 hours every evening with monday being off.Numerous channels have popped up since then specially in the last decade.some are great while some are a little less great but it is giving them more chance to present a variety of programs and it has given viewers lots of choices.Now we can also see the correspondent talking and asking for opinion from the general public.Which is good.
    They however put crises oriented news first which is a trend that has been copied from the west,but along with it if something good happens in the country it should also get substantial coverage. freedom of expression is definitely there now which is again a good thing.And above all the opening of the new TV stations has provided jobs to Pakistanis across the country.The media is making rapid progress In Pakistan.I will give it a B.

  17. ali says:
    September 28th, 2009 10:22 pm

    In addition to what I have said above I also agree with the view of many readers that DAWN remains Pakistan`s most outstanding newspaper both within the country and outside..- and Dawn TV telecast of news is of high quality.

  18. Shakeel says:
    September 29th, 2009 5:41 am

    As a whole, Pak media is useless. They focus too much on the disputes between the politicians and leaving out core issues – such as three women abused today in Lahore .. they will never talk about this story in the tv news .. Dawn reported it, but that’s abt it.

    Useless media and even more useless politicians

  19. Sajjad Memon says:
    September 29th, 2009 7:15 am

    Shutdown urdu channels for a week and see how peaceful things will get. Yes i mean it, news should be availble only to literate and elites.

  20. Usman says:
    September 29th, 2009 7:35 am

    Media has the independence they used to cry for yet they have never brought a single report on Nawaz Sahrief’s ‘Qarz utaro mulk bachao’ scam, never investigated Zardari’s corruptions or Death of Murtaza bhutto.
    Media played a big role (spec GEO) in Winning elections for PPP & PMLN and I hold their collar and ask why is our budget in deficit, why are there less jobs now, why is there more corruption, why was the rule of only Graduates can stand for election removed, why is media not criticising Military action now when they created a big issue of Lal musjid, why is gov taking so many loans and where is all that money going.
    We sometimes look to our east and see india’s success but we forget that their media has always played a vital role, be it accusing Pakistan or Exposing their own corruptions (Hangama website…)
    I am sorry to say but Media is equally responsible for our deteriorating situation, previously we had one group: Politicians who were corrput now we have 3: Politicians, Media & Judiciary.

  21. ali says:
    September 29th, 2009 12:57 pm

    good or bad
    Do tok hota to acha tha

  22. viqar minai says:
    September 29th, 2009 2:31 pm

    For the longest time Pakistan had heavily censored print and electronic media. For a few years now we have both media relatively free. But it seems our expectations of it are bordering on childishness. I am reminded of the story I had heard of a lone child who incessantly complained to his parents about not having a sibling to play with. His father said to him,”son, you are now almost six. You won’t be able to play with a newborn baby”. “No!”, protested the wide-eyed child,”he has to be born five years old”.

    The state of the media, like so many other things in our society, need time to improve and mature. At least it has some measure of freedom now, so let us be patient and try to
    improve it. Let us be grateful that, now, there is a possibility that it might. The same is true of the institutions of democracy and judiciary in Pakistan.

  23. Aamir Ali says:
    September 29th, 2009 4:34 pm

    @Viqar Minai

    The judiciary, democracy and media in Pakistan is staffed by adults, who consider themselves “professionals”. Many have gray beards and are not 16-year olds that we have to accept excuses for them that “bachay hain”.

    It also sounds like a variation of the “virsa siyasat” that political parties have been playing since February 2008.

  24. Usman says:
    September 29th, 2009 5:17 pm

    Democracy: Nawaz is running PMLN for last 20+ years, no where in world we have a leader of a democratic party for that long (only dictators, but that is a separate discussion), does he still need to get matured?
    Media: It is shame that media shows dead bodies on the tv everyday, it has nothing to do with being not mature, it is about discipline and code of conduct.
    Judiciary: Judiciary is being run by crooks, CJ.Iftikhar is not a child, he is a mature person yet no where in the world we get an example of victims being judges in their own case.

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)