The habit or nature of believing in gossip, self created doctrines that suit one’s own ideologies or beliefs, leads to the invention of propaganda, through which ordinary people’s desires are controlled and consent is manufactured. It is human nature to look for the things or stories which are not against the belief system. The belief systems can consist of political, religious or nationalist ideologies or even one’s own desires. Since the invention of social and electronic media it has become very easy for the corporations, powerful groups, and elites to control the desires and manufacture the consent of the ordinary people. The world is full of information but to analyze the correct information still seems to be an art which the majority of the world is still not willing to learn.
In Pakistan, the electronic and social media are the easiest and most effective tools to manufacture consent and manipulate the desires of the masses. The recent case of child rape victim Zainab Ansari, who was killed after being raped, is an example in this regard. From the day her dead body was found to the day of her murderer’s arrest the game of politics and manipulating minds and opinions was played to gain advantage over opponents. If this was not enough Dr Shahid Masood’s self created theory about the serial killer who murdered Zainab and other young girls gave us a glimpse into our moral and rational demise as a society.
In his TV show he came up with a story that the serial killer, who is actually a psychopath, paedophile and suffers from a split personality disorder, is basically a member of an international mafia involved in child pornography. He also claimed that the serial killer Mohammad Imran had around 37 bank accounts and millions of rupees were transferred to these accounts. He also tried to convince the masses that the Punjab government was part of the international pornography racket and they were trying to brush matters under the carpet.
The story went viral through social media and websites and caught the attention of national and international news outlets. Dr Shahid Masood was summoned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan the next morning and the Chief Justice asked him to provide evidence in support of his story. He produced a document which was also circulated on social media and told the court that it was evidence that this criminal had 37 bank accounts. Such was the pressure that even the Punjab Government had to form a Joint Investigation Team, JIT, over the issue.
In reality the document was only a record of banks, who as per state bank instructions only tried to verify if the culprit Mohammad Imran had any bank account with them or not, and they found he did not. It was in fact a rubbish claim and much to expectation this illogical claim and self created story divided public opinion. The people whose political affiliations were with the opponents of PML-N and the ones whose ideological affiliations were right wing spread the story and in fact started believing it. This is actually a sign that we are living in an age where it is very easy to spread lies and is very difficult to prove the truth.
Dr Shahid Masood and many of his other accomplices are using electronic and social media in the name of journalism and spreading lies, false and fudged facts and figures and working against the democracy; attempting to create a rift between institutions and get maximum television rating points. It is not the first time that Dr Shahid Masood and many of his colleagues have come up with a misleading and self created story. Dr Masood a few years back came up with the story of the 35 punctures tape which was proven to be false, even in a court of law, but he kept on doing TV shows without any punishment.
His predictions about the collapse of the government proved false time and again and over the last decade has been busy predicting doomsday, which of course never came. He is not alone – many of his colleagues are doing the same thing. They host TV shows or work as analysts and spread their masters’ agenda of creating anti-democratic, anti-progressive and anti-modern civilization concepts and ideologies. From Zaid Hamid to Orya Maqbool Jan they spread extremism and racism in the name of religion and self created national interest while Dr Shahid Masood and many like him are busy working on the agenda of anti-democratic forces and for their own financial interests.
It requires very little knowledge to understand that there is no way a serial killer who was earning his bread and butter through labor and by stealing mobile phones can be a part of any mafia. His brutal crimes were committed in houses under construction and could not have made a video in these locations as it would have caught the attention of the people around. There is nothing mentioned in the document shown by Shahid Masood that proves that the accused had any bank account.
It is a classic example to understand that the propaganda and yellow journalism is prevailing and progressing because of the collective addiction of society. A society that looks for sensationalism and wants to listen or watch as their way of perceiving and believing is actually giving the power to the groups and individuals to manipulate itself. Such is the polarization that facts are denied only to prove self-claimed affiliations and ideologies.
Even the television channel BOL, whose IT company Axact was involved in running porn websites, is propagating the self fabricated story of Shahid Masood and conducting shows against pornography and the dark web. This is the height of hypocrisy but the people are not interested in finding the truth, they are happy to live in a fantasy world where they are fed with stories and facts of their choice, through television channels like BOL, or anchors like Dr Shahid Masood.
Journalism is not all about settling personal scores with opponents or gaining financial benefits, though sadly most of the media houses and TV anchors have forgotten this basic principle and their sole purpose seems to be getting the highest TRPs and other benefits by aligning with invisible forces and anti-democratic forces. They create stories and news which have nothing to do with reality and in the process easily manufacture the public’s consent and opinion.
The masses who are addicted to sensational news and stories are the clients of this yellow journalism and propaganda. In the age of technology and knowledge revolution, to remain ignorant is a choice and if the masses are not willing to reject the yellow journalism then there is no way that we can stop the demise of ethical and objective journalism.
Having an opinion is not a crime but believing that the opinion one holds is the truth and whosoever does not believe it is an enemy is not the right way. The business of yellow journalism, propaganda, and manipulation of opinion runs upon the demand and supply principle; the more sensation you seek, the more self-created conspiracies and stories you endorse, the more this business of yellow journalism and propaganda becomes powerful.
This act of Shahid Masood should not go unpunished and a judicial inquiry should be conducted against him and he should be brought to law for misleading the masses and for cashing in on the dead body of Zainab Ansari to settle his personal score with the Punjab Government. This criminal act of conducting yellow journalism on dead bodies, at the cost of burring the truth with the hidden agenda of controlling public opinion, needs to be stopped. It is damaging the credibility of all the good and professional media houses and journalists and playing a main role in the polarization of society.