Essay on “Media, the King Maker” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary Examinations

This is an essay on “Media, the King Maker” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary Examinations. Today, the Media is playing an important role in our society. For a long time, media has been one of the methods of controlling, people and leisure. The media, both print, and broadcast are expected to inform the mass audience, educate them to entertain the people, and mobilize them towards the desired goal. In Pakistan sometimes media is used to gain some particular purpose. So here is the complete essay on “Media, the King Maker” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary Examinations.

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Media ethics

  • Fairness and right of reply
  • Acceptance of favors and bribes
  • Discrimination
  • Accuracy
  • Disclosure of sources
  • Social responsibility
  • Respect for human dignity
  • Plagiarism
  • Independence

Role of media in society

  • As the fourth pillar of the state
  • The news function
  • the opinion function
  • The entertainment function
  • Media a.s a watchdog
  • Media as kingmaker

Problems of media in Pakistan

  • Sensationalism (Yellow Journalism)
  • Media bias or propaganda
  • Media violence
  • Media hype
  • Commercialism
  • A state within a state

Suggestions for improvement

  • Media code of ethics
  • Media laws in Pakistan

Essay on “Media, the King Maker” for CSS, PMS, and Judiciary Examinations

Media Ethics

Pakistan came into existence on 14th august 1947. Quaid-e- Azam, the first Governor-General of Pakistan, had a clear concept of press freedom. He said, “I expect you, journalists) to be completely fearless. If I go wrong for that matter Muslim league goes wrong in any direction. I want you to criticize it honestly as its friend.” He did not allow legislation to suppress the press. Just one month after his death in September 1948, Public Safety Ordinance was implemented in October. In the first 7 years of independence from 1947 to 1953, 31 newspapers were banned.

Media ethics deal with the specific ethical principles and standards of media, including broadcast media, film, theatre, the arts, print media, and the internet. By ethics, we mean the moral principles which determine the rightness or wrongness of particular acts. Ethical codes are usually self-imposed principles to adhere to in order to foster and protect one’s rights and privileges for mutual interests. Some of the basic ethical codes to be practiced by the journalists are the following:

Journalists shall write and the mass media shall publish, broadcast, or report fair, accurate, unbiased stories. All sides of the story shall be reported. The right to reply from any person mentioned in an unfavorable context shall be obtained, as appropriate.

Journalists and their employers shall conduct themselves in a manner that protects them from real or apparent conflicts of interest. Such conflicts of interest may arise through accepting gifts, bribes, favors, free travel, special treatment, or any other form of inducement or privilege.

The mass media shall avoid prejudiced, pejorative, or stigmatizing language in reference to, among other things, a person’s nationality, ethnicity, class, religion, political affiliation or sex, or to any physical or mental illness or disability. Such references shall be eschewed unless they are germane to a story.

It is the public’s right to unbiased, accurate, balanced, and comprehensive inforn1ation, and the journalist’s duty to make adequate inquiries and cross-check his/her facts.

The journalist shall observe professional secrecy regarding the source of information obtained in confidence.

In collecting and disseminating information, the journalist should bear in mind his/her responsibility to the public at large and the various interests in society.

The journalist will respect and defend the basic freedoms and rights of human beings as stipulated in all the international and regional charters and conventions, with sensitivity to socio-economic status and socio-cultural issues.

It is the duty of the journalist to regard plagiarism as unethical and to always credit the source. The journalist shall exercise his/her profession in the public interest without undue interference from any quarter.

Role of Media in Society

The media is considered to be the fourth pillar of the state: the first three being the legislature, executive, and judiciary. The role of media is very significant and vital in a civilized society. It provides information to the people makes them aware of their problems and educates them by suggesting solutions to these problems. Thereby, it molds or shapes public opinion through its reporting, editorials, articles, etc.

The primary function of the media is to inform. Factual representation of the day’s news is the elementary function of the media in society. The mass media informs and educates the public about the issues surrounding their country and the wider world. This makes people aware of the events that are happening around them.

Modem man frequently finds himself in the midst of conflict and confusion. He wants and needs a medium of communication that will help him to act wisely on the basis of logical arguments rather than emotional appeals. Media helps create public opinion and aids people in the understanding of the issues of immediate importance.

While perfom1ing the functions of informing and educating the public the media also serves as an entertainment tool for the people. The soft news regarding sports and celebrities caters to the needs of the public.

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The media acts as a watchdog in society. The function of the watchdog is related to the aspect of investigative reporting by the media. The media holds the government office bearers accountable to the people. The vigilance and the proactive behavior of the media keep the politicians conscious of their deeds.

Media is also known to be a kingmaker. This means that tl1e media has the ability to provide power to certain people in society. The media through its reporting can mold the public opinion
regarding a political figure by giving him or her positive fame required to win the hearts of the people. Likewise, the media also has the ability to reduce the popularity of a famous figure by reporting it to the public. 

Media in Pakistan enjoys freedom. However, there are a number of problems of media in Pakistan that need to be addressed. They are the following:

Problems of Media in Pakistan

Yellow journalism presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism. Some newspapers in Pakistan resort to sensationalized news for making more business out of the newspaper. Sensationalism is against the ethical codes of journalism and must be eliminated from the media society. Many news channels also present sensational news to allure the public. Often minor issues are highlighted in the form of breaking news that deceives the public and is morally wrong.

Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community towards some cause or position so as to benefit oneself. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. Media in Pakistan often reports news events with bias.

Importance is given to one side of the story while all the aspects under consideration are not looked upon. As a result, the public doesn’t get the true picture of the events.

Another major problem with tile Pakistani media is the irresponsible behavior while reporting bomb blasts coverage. The media must not transgress its limits at any time. The grotesque images of bloodshed are given maximum coverage by tile media. Reporting widespread violence affects the public psychologically making them desensitized to the suffering of the victims.

The media in Pakistan does not hesitate to create a hype of minor events. In creating hype of certain selected events or news stories the important news gets neglected. One of such examples is the unnecessary news coverage given to Shoaib Malik’s and Sania Mirui’s affair.

The modem-free media of Pakistan is based on commercialism. A number of news channels seem to be running in a rat race of reporting an event in the first place without considering the sensitive nature of the news or issue. The media has a right to earn profits but not at the expense of providing twisted truths to the public.

Media becomes a state within a state when it tries to take command of the country into its own hands. The freedom of media has significant importance in a democratic society; nonetheless, issues of national interest need to be reported with utmost responsibility. National security has the highest of importance. So the media must adhere to the limits while reporting controversial issues.

The empowerment of media is a sign of democracy. However, with power comes the element of responsibility. The media can effectively play its role in society by practicing the ethical codes of journalism. Apart from this, the media predominantly in Pakistan is urban-centered and obsessed with politics whether Pakistani or abroad. Politics and issues of international relations have gained immense importance in the current era, but the issues of the common man are often left unreported.

Development journalism needs to be further practiced so that the issues from the grass-root level can be reported. Also, the media needs to develop a self-regulatory system that evaluates the performance of the media and indicates the shortcomings that need improvement.

Suggestions for Improvement

In order to overcome the problems of media, it is the need of the hour to implement media ethics that are as follows:

  • Journalism is a profession based upon a commitment to principles of honesty, fairness, credibility, and respect for the truth.
  • A journalist is obliged to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards and shall at all times defend the principle of freedom of the press and media.
  • the journalist shall ensure that information he/she provides is fair, accurate, and not subject to falsification, distortion, inappropriate selection, misrepresentation, or any form of censorship.
  • A journalist shall avoid the expression of comment and conjecture as fact.
  • the journalist shall protect confidential sources of information.
  • A journalist shall not distort or suppress the truth for commercial, institutional, or other special interests.
  • the journalist shall not accept personal favors, bribes, inducements, nor shall he/she allow any other factor pertaining to his/her own person to influence the performance of his/her professional duties.
  • A journalist shall not publish or broadcast extreme images of violence, mutilation, corpses, or victims of tragedy irrespective of the cause unless it is necessary for the public interest.
  • the journalist shall neither originate nor process material, which incites discrimination, ridicule, prejudice, or hatred.
  • A journalist shall not take prior advantage of infom1ation gained in the course of his/her professional duties for private gain. 
  • the journalist shall obtain information, data. photographs, and illustrations only by straightforward means. The use of other means can be justified only by overriding considerations of the public interest.
  • A journalist shall avoid intn1sion into private life, grief or distress, except when there are overriding considerations of public interest. 
  • A journalist shall not exceed the limits of ethical caution and fair comment because of time constraints or to gain a competitive advantage.
  • the journalist shall not glorify the perpetrators of illegitimate acts of violence committed under any garb or cause, including honor and religion.
  • A journalist shall never indulge in plagiarism. Using or passing off the works of another as one’s own and without crediting the source is a serious ethical offense. 
  • the journalist shall strive to ensure that his writing or broadcast contains no discriminatory material or comment based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, co~our, age, sex, marital status, or physical or mental handicap.
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Following are the media laws:

Media Laws in Pakistan

Media is mighty, hence in the very nature of things its use and conduct must be regulated by norms conducive to the accomplishment of its objectives. This can best be done with the help of a well-codified law that not only ensures that media doesn’t transgress the limits thus affecting the stability of the state but also ensures its prosperity.

In a society that is still in the process of growth and development, the laws are necessary to regulate and streamline the conduct of its members. However, unfortunately, most of the laws are designed so as to curb the freedom of media and to curtail the fundan1ental right of freedom of speech and expression.

The efforts of Muslims for freedom in 1945 had gained momentum by 1947. During this time the rifts between the Muslims and Hindus were widening. To halt these, the Government of India introduced a new Press Act called the Central Press Powers Act. Under this Act, the local administration was given the power to hold hearings against violations of press laws. In India, this Act was known as the Public Safety Act, while in Pakistan it was reinforced as the Central Press Special Powers Act.

The rules formulated under this Act affected both the newspapers and the printing presses. These are as follows:

  • The Government has a right to stop the publication of any news or article. 
  • Government can cease the publication of any printable material without providing a reason to its editor, owner, or publisher.
  • In case of publishing any news or article against Government policy, the editor or publisher can be subjected to strict action.
  • Any Government official can, during a sudden inspection of the printing press, check any material or stop it from being published 
  • Police officers are given similar rights as mentioned in the preceding section.
  • The Police, under this law, can arrest any person caught in possession of any prohibited material.
  • Under this Act, every publication would be passed through censorship.

A lot of newspapers were closed and others had to pay heavy sums in the name of securities to continue printing. Some of the Pakistan Penal Code (1960) provisions closely relate to the freedom of the press.

Section 124A: prescribed punishments for the authors and publishers of seditious writings. However, the word sedition was not properly defined and was subject to controversy.

Section 153A: under this, the punishment could be given to the person for the reason of creating enmity between various classes of people in Pakistan.

Section 499-502: essentially formed the law of defamation, where a defamed person could lodge a case with the police.

Section 505: it was related to causing members of the armed forces to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in duty, inducing anyone to commit an offense against the state or against public tranquility and to incite one community against the other.

West Pakistan maintenance of public order ordinance: this law was promulgated in 1960 providing for suspension of newspapers for specified periods when they are guilty of disturbing public order.

Press and Publications Ordinance (PPO 1963) is following:

A press commission was set up by the central government on September 28, 1954. The commission was required to examine and report the laws regulating the press in Pakistan and to make recommendations necessary for the amendment, revision, or consolidation of these laws.

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After four years of strenuous labor, the commission came to the conclusion that “the press in -this country is by and large patriotic. It suffers, like other institutions in every newborn and democratic country, from certain special weaknesses.”

After examining the previous laws the commission’s concluding remarks were as follows: 

“Having reviewed the laws pertaining to press in Pakistan we wish to comment on a fundamental issue, i.e. the freedom of the press. Freedom of the press through a very popular slogan has not been studied and understood with the care it deserves. There is generally no realization that as in the case of other forms of freedoms, such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press is regulated with due regard to the paramount consideration of safeguarding the integrity and security of the country and protecting its citizens against scurrilous writings and malicious attacks.”

To this conclusion, the commission added long extracts from the report of the drafting committee on the UN covenant of human rights as submitted at the conference on freedom of information held in Geneva in April 1948, the international code of ethics for journalists, and a passage from the judgment of the US supreme court. The main thrust of these extracts was that “the right to freedom of expression carried with it duties and responsibilities” and” a clear cut distinction is made between the freedom of expression and license.”

Freedom of Information Ordinance (2002) was promulgated in 2002 to provide for transparency and freedom of information.

Under this ordinance, it was stated that information related to government matters would be provided to any person. only if they provide the magistrate with an application to do so. Moreover, the
magistrate would be to decide whether the information would be exposed, after ensuring the need for its disclosure.

However, such information which on disclosure could harn1 the law enforcement agencies, relations of Pakistan with foreign states, Ille privacy_of any individual and to the economy could not
be disclosed in any circumstances. PEMRA – the Pakistan electronic media regulation authority was established in General Musharraf’s reign on March 1, 2002, through an ordinance. Later it was amended in 2007 under the same government.

The PEMRA Ordinance in its original form was a bad law to start with because it created a mechanism to control the electronic media in violation of the objectives given in the Ordinance itself.

The Electronic Media Regulatory Authority was set up to control the working of broadcasters in the private sector only. Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation, the Pakistan Television Corporation, and the Shalimar Recording Company (STN) were not subject to PEMRA Ordinance. This meant that the high-sounding PEMRA objectives, especially the development of media for socially desirable tasks, were not recommended to the electronic media already under state control. In other words, regulation of electronic media meant the imposition of control/censorship over channels outside the public sector.

The Ordinance of 2007 had a provision (not found in the ordinance of 1997) to the effect that the Federal Government has the power to issue directives to PEMRA on matters of policy and PEMRA is bound to follow these directives. That is, PEMRA is not an autonomous body.

The 2007 law clearly states that the licensee will be obliged to broadcast or distribute programs referred to it by the Federal Government or the Authority. This provision is common to laws on all media-control bodies. 

Section 21 of the 2002 law provided for consultation with the provincial governments on the location of new enterprises but this condition has been dropped by the amendment. That is, even a small concession to provincial authority is unwelcome.

The Authority could revoke a license on a number of grounds and one of them is “reason of necessity in the public interest” and when action was taken on this ground there was no need to issue a show-cause notice, which was required before acting on any other ground.

Both the laws of 1997 and 2002 provided for inspection of premises and access to authority’s representatives but in the recent amendment, the police have been authorized to take action against broadcasters and their staff. 

Much had been made of the amendment which struck down the provision against private monopolies and the bar to cross-media ownership which was a feature of both the legislations of 1997 and 2002. One is not sure that the proposed change will make for greater freedom of expression because the bigger an enterprise the more vulnerable it is to official pressure.

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