In this highly globalized and digitalized modern world media – both print and electronic – have their own significance, along with a greater impact on policy matters and generally on society.  The power of social media in 21st century modern world is also remarkable.  The media itself has been the chief agent in the homogenization of world and making governments more reasonable and less tyrannical. But despite all good things that media has done for us, it has its own drawbacks that have pernicious effects on our society. Sometimes, in our days, the media seems to do its job as a cruel sadist that does not care for others – mainly for the victims.

Sociologically speaking, when media works as a repository of infallible wisdom it greatly contributes in maximizing structural violence that is of several types. This is mainly because of two interrelated problems, purely political in nature; one, media is more powerful than those who legislate, and are expected, constitutionally, to determine comprehensive frameworks within which media is supposed to do its work; and two, there are no clearly defined rules both legal and moral for media personnel within which should they operate.

Due to lack of clearly defined legal and moral frameworks, the media is independent to define its own rules and moral values.  This legal as well as moral subjectivity sometimes leads towards bigger social chaos. And, as a student of sociology, I fear this dilemma would cause a social disaster, if not addressed immediately and adequately.

Two days back, a girl, Rabia Naseer , 25, (I am mentioning her name because our media has already disclosed her identity and the damage has already been done, but I won’t mention the name of the institution of which she was a student, nor would I mention the name of the hotel where she was found dead) was found shot dead in a washroom of a five-star hotel in Lahore.  Ironically, our media, right after her death, informed the nation who she was, where she used to study and, above all, everything about her background, her family and her native district was aired and published instantly. All this was happening in a way that at some moment I myself thought: ‘was she a public figure?’

Our media did not stop here. Surprised? Have a heart and listen more. After the forensic examination report (as has been claimed) the media has immediately let the nation know that the unfortunate girl was pregnant.

Before moving on, let me recall one more very relevant case here. You remember Fouzia Azeem (known as Qandeel Baloch)?  She was surely a social media star. But she didn’t want to be a star. She was a poor girl, and a breadwinner for her poor family.

What happened to her?

She has been strangled to death.

Who did it?

You are probably thinking that I would mention her brother’s name here, but I won’t.

It was the media who strangled her to death. The media did it by disclosing everything she didn’t wish to share with the world. Everything was made public as breaking news including her real name, her family, her two broken marriages, her child, and her husband. After her murder the same media is using her blood to stop honor killings, but it doesn’t care about its role in the whole story.

She was murdered when people started calling her brother the brother of a slut, a minx, a saucy girl, and a slovenly woman.

The question is: was Qandeel Baloch to hold any public office? Was she going to contest an election? What were her motives? Probably to become a model, a film-star or an actress. Then was it necessary to disclose her identity which she was not willing to disclose? Give it a thought…

Now let’s come back to Rabia’s death. Rabia was neither a politician nor a social media star. She was an ordinary student at a public college. Then why has the media disclosed everything about her family? She was not married but was pregnant. What does it mean? We all know what it means in our society...

Now what about her family? How would they face this society? Who would explain the world that Rabia was innocent? Or who would say she was deceived, and this suicide is actually a murder? Yes, a murder. A murder like that of Qandeel Baloch as a result of structural violence. And in this case this structural violence that has been fueled by mainstream media may cause one more murder…

Furthermore, our media did not care about her family. About her friends and teachers. About her institution and native district. They informed the whole world, may be in an implicit way that Rabia didn’t have a good character. And it has been told as a breaking news.

Interestingly, most of the newspapers didn’t mention the name of the hotel, and one newspaper didn’t mention the name of her college. That’s good. But, we must realize, this has been done to protect the interests of the hotel and of the college. And what about the respect, grace and privacy of Rabia’s family? Probably, nobody cares.

Media strangled Qandeel to death by disclosing her identity and it did its best to socially humiliate, disgrace and disrespect the family of Rabia after her death. The bottom line is very clear: why does media disclose anything personal that causes social harm for the victim or for the victim’s family?

Unfortunately, when it comes to breaking news and ratings no morality, no ethics and no laws work in our media industry.

How unfortunate are we that first we kill them and then we mourn them for the sake of ratings – or we simply humiliate the whole families and tribes after the death.

Personal morality won’t work much. The government, despite all pressure, must formulate a comprehensive mechanism in which media – both print and electronic – should operate as they have done over the infamous Cybercrime Bill to regulate social media in the best interest of the nation.