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 responses to “Bloggers Become Source for Mainstream Media in Pakistan”

  1. Omar R. Quraishi says:

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

  2. IMRAN says:

    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.

  3. MB says:

    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.

  4. zamanov says:

    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.

  5. zamanov says:

    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.

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