Shaista Beg A respected left-wing weekly newspaper went a little too far this week. Nearly the whole of its first half is dedicated to a holier than thou review of the media, smugly entitled Watching the watchdog. With several well known names sermonising on the subject and just poor little me on this side of the debate...here goes nothing. A critic seems to be a front runner for some official post in the 'Press Council that he keeps proposing in his article (nine times at the last count). He also mentions the PFUJ, whose reputation can only be politely put as questionable. Another flag bearer is a walking, talking defamation lawsuit at all times. The kind of virulent, vicious, venomous gossip he delivers as a pious homily on behalf of his journalist colleagues marks him as the worst possible example of a journalist. My own organisation has been attacked numerous times on public forums by this gentleman, without reason, simply to cause harm to a reputation which has by the grace of God remained unblemished, despite his very best efforts. He cites in his article an unnamed former PEMRA official who had commended his former employer on doing a good job in regulating the electronic media business. The unnamed gentleman in question is fully aware that all the channels pay a hefty fee for this privilege. A sizeable yearly amount is charged by the Authority in return for...we do not as yet know. The only interaction that most channels have with PEMRA is when they receive inane circulars in the mail. Perish the thought that they can offer a quick solution when a channel faces distribution issues. Another scribe continues in much the same thread. Tarring everyone with one brush, he claims that the owners serving as editors lead to publications being used for furthering their political or business interests, instead for the elucidation of the public at large. If the gentleman feels this to be the case, he must name the organisations which he feels follow such a practice. There are many examples of top media houses in the country being owned and edited by the same persons very successfully and to excellent repute. However, where the owner/editor/professional editors policy will disagree, I am sure he will protest at the unprofessionalism of the management of that publication. Questions about taxation are also raised in this article. Of course, the giant Rs8 billion elephant in the room remains unaddressed. Reporting on the basis of preconceived notions seems to be a popular theme; but the blame for constructing these misleading perceptions also lies with the media, with these very people in fact. A genuinely good suggestion is that all editors, reporters and anchor persons should declare their assets each year for public information. I agree. Not just locally held assets, but foreign bank accounts as well. Lets see what everyone has in their kitty, of course, the success of this exercise will depend only on the correct information being supplied. If a highly paid journalist says that he owns no cars and no property and only has one lakh in his bank account, the prescription is to laugh until you cry. The next specimen is a renowned journalist, who seems to be peculiarly and vehemently opposed to something which most logical, sane people want more of not less. Nationalism is his hated subject of choice. The fact that the literacy rates in Pakistan are low has meant that the poison of nationalism has been successfully kept away from the masses.The poison of nationalism? Poison? Perhaps, it was a mistake; maybe he meant passion, not poison. No, wait...he did mean poison. A few lines down he says, Now the poison runs deep and makes people short on patience and insistent on getting the kind of care from the state that is simply unrealistic. What on earth could he find objectionable about pinning flags on your lapels or singing the national anthem or idealising your founding fathers? And why would nationalism be a problem if it means we expect the same from our government? A little bit of nationalism surely wouldnt hurt them either. Nationalism, after all, is just another word for patriotism. Why is defending and voicing your support of your country poison? I am sure, he will point to me as an example of an addled mind poisoned by nationalism - and I am. That means I am passionate about my country and what it stands for. Why is that a bad thing? If I expect better care from the government that I elected, that I pay taxes to, whose laws I abide by why is that bad? Nationalism is not the same as jingoism, which I dont mind to be honest. Yes, I will shout the loudest to further the best interests of my country to the exclusion of others. Its simple economics, not everyones demands can be met by the limited supply of resources in this world and since everyone else is chasing their best interests, we have to join the race and elbow and struggle our way forward - not stand aside to make way for others, who dont mind running us down in the pursuit of their own happiness. The writer is a freelance columnist.