Each profession defines its ethical approach typically including these components; honesty, integrity, accountability, loyalty, obedience to law, respect, objectivity and confidentiality. Here I am very much concerned about journalism, which is not only a profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, TV, or news websites but also a higher moral responsibility. We should be aware of the fact that journalism has direct concern with such moral responsibilities. Journalist seeks facts for the betterment of society; they explore and expose reality and also fight for the lack of truth. As a mission, it is important to have an assignment given to a person or group of people – in order to spread positivity and wipe out negativity. But unfortunately not only in Pakistan but as well as in rest of the world, many non-professional elements are pushed into the journalism profession. This kind of elements’ mission is to give success to their personal interest. They do not care about professionalism and for the low-priced prestige they lie, sensationalize the issues, trail and blackmail. In fact, they are trying to defame and vilify the honourable profession and passion.
Here I want to discuss the recent event of Zainab’s murder in Kasur city. In this case, the accused Imran has been arrested after matching DNA samples were found. Now the case is in the court and within small period of time, the criminal would be penalized. Moreover, there is an issue of journalists who are not by profession journalists, but rather medical doctors. They can be seen as actors in different news channels. A certain anchor has said with all certainty accused Imran with involvement in child pornography. Imran has at least 37 bank accounts and millions of dollars and euros, proven with different transactions. The anchor also asserted that a provincial minister of Punjab is also engaged in this case. In point of fact the anchor person has tried to affect the case. On this susceptible matter everyone was shocked.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan decided to go in the depth of the matter and CJP took sou moto action. He called the anchor to appear before the court, in order to defend his stance. Along with Dr. Shahid Masood, CJP also called media group owners, anchor persons and seasoned journalists to hear the case in their presence.
The anchor person couldn’t bring any proof and started talking on non-issue besides the case. On this attitude, the court slighted and warned to be in certain parameters rather than talk about suppositions. Then the anchor person demanded to form a judicial commission but the Chief Justice of Pakistan refused CJP even said that if the anchorperson could prove his claims true, he will issue a best anchor certificate to him. Otherwise, he has to face the penalty on the contempt of court. In this charge, the anti- terrorism act will also apply.
Meanwhile, the anchor person still cannot prove true his assertions. On the claim of 37 accounts, the State Bank of Pakistan never found even a single account of the accused Imran in any bank. The anchor person said that he gave the news but investigation is not his part. Institutions need to verify and investigate. This was an extremely non-professional attitude and a very bad example in practical journalism. It means Dr. Shahid Masood does not know that the journalist’s major duty is to have news cited from multiple resources. Then he can transform the information into a news story. The same rule is for editorial writers, columnists and for feature writers as well. In the past era of journalism, this practice was institutionalized. Even today, responsible media is following these rules. However, many are still not following these rules. So many constituents of this field couldn’t separate fiction and realty, which is very disappointing. It is not awful only for journalism but also for country and for democracy – at large. We know that we have paid so much in enhancing freedom of speech and freedom of press. To restore ethical and professional journalism, every media group needs to behave positively and take responsibility.
Islamabad, February 4.