February issue 2010
Lost in Oblivion
With the coming of the media boom, the electronic media seems to have found its voice but it has not understood the very essence of journalism. It is as if the industry was given too much freedom, too soon. The corollary to that is that the channels are vying to break the news and compete with each other to see who can be the loudest. There are no follow-ups to the stories they have broken. Attention-grabbing news flashes incessantly on the screen one day and then fades into oblivion.
The list of stories that were quickly forgotten is endless. On September 1, 2007, Karachi’s Shershah bridge collapsed. Images of the destruction flashed across television screens, vividly highlighting the fact that the city lacks the resources to deal with a calamity of this nature. People were shown stranded and crying for help. Misery and ruin seemed to rule the day. Fingers were pointed at all those associated with the construction. For a couple of days, the channels raised the issue that we didn’t have the right machinery to remove the rubble. But soon the disaster was forgotten. We don’t know what became of those who were responsible for the collapse of the bridge, and if anything has been done to improve disaster management in the city, or if anyone has been brought to justice.
Similarly, a hue and cry was raised when money changers Khanani and Kalia were booked for money laundering and illegal money transfers. It was alleged that they ran illegal hawala and hundi businesses. The duo was subjected to much public humiliation but, with the passage of time, the news died down. No one knows where the two are now, if they were ever charged or if anyone else was arrested in this supposed crackdown against money changers.
In July 2008, five women were reportedly buried alive in Balochistan. The perpetrators were identified and when some politicians actually supported the brutish practice, the cry for justice amplified. NGOs made their presence felt with protests, but after a few days the zest evaporated. Once again, the television stations failed in properly following up and informing its viewers if anyone was apprehended.
There are legions of stories that were left hanging mid-air. Who killed Murtaza and Shahnawaz Bhutto? Who attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team or opened fire at the Manawan police academy in Lahore?
There is a common belief that public memory is short. As the uproar dies down, people tend to forget. It is the duty of the media to keep the story alive until justice prevails. After all, justice delayed is justice denied.
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