Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

FANCY WATCHING A DEAD BODY? TUNE IN…..

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on October 5, 2009

Did you see the confirmation video of Baitullah’s death? Have you seen how skillfully police managed to blow the skull of Rehman Dakait? How about successfully executed civilians by the militants (in almost a daily incident in some part of the country)?

Being the front line ally on the war on terror and fighting a gruesome and horrific war seems to be numbing our sensitivities. The advent of broadcast media in recent years and the subsequent quest for ratings is adding wind to the sails of insensitivity.

Death is a somber event where under the laws of civilization and basic ethics, privacy needs to be given where its duly required. Living in Pakistan you realize how worthless is the loss of a human life and how easily people get away with it. Furthermore the newly-found liberated broadcast outlets make it a point to induce the carnage with sticks into the brains through the viewers eyes and ears. The glorified images of the “brutal” militants or the triumphant gains of the “valiant” soldiers mean scattered parts or intact trophy pieces, in simpler diction human carcasses paraded before the viewers.

When decision makers are asked, they shrug and have the evergreen reply of reporting what is happening. But when asked if it is responsible their argument is that while these images are aired, viewer discretion is flashed through the presenter or a message on the screen. So is it OK to show the dead body of Pakistan’s enemy number one and NOT-OK when its a body of a soldier or a civilian? The question remains of who is building the appetite for blood and gore and how can it be stopped?

Across the globe broadcast outlets with responsible editorial guidelines have a system of checks and counterchecks of what to allow on TV. In Pakistan, there seems to be no such mechanism ensuring responsible images either at TV stations or via an association of media outlets. Journalists rightfully stand against curbs in the form of guidelines by the government but there needs to some sort of accountability. Based on the principle of “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, there has to be a uniform ethics policy made, decided and executed by the media.

The viewer needs to be given a choice rather than being forced to scamper for the remote and change the channel.  For instance as Saddam Hussain was executed, a sensitive broadcaster did not display the hanging or the decapitated body but they showed the dead face. In order to provide the viewer a complete sense of what happened, uploaded the video on their website so whoever wanted to see it would have to log on and watch what happened.

When the message is being hammered of the gains against militants  and the subsequent return of normality to towns and cities, the toll needs to be gauged and steps taken to heal the scars on the thought process and the soul of the country.

While India was triumphantly celebrating its nuclear tests, Arundhati Roy wrtote

” Why does this all seem so familiar? Is it because, even as you watch, reality dissolves and seamlessly rushes forward into the silent, black-and-white images from old films – scenes of people being hounded out of their lives , rounded up and herded into camps? Of massacre, of mayhem, of endless columns of broken people making their way to nowhere? Why is there no soundtrack? Why is the hall so quiet? Have I been seeing too many films?Am I mad? Or am I right? Could those images be the inescapable culmination of what we have set into motion? Could our future be rushing forward into our past?”

This practice of being LIVE on funerals and showing the face of the dead person, the bullet & blood riddled bodies of (suspected) terrorists, the identifiable faces of the victims of rape, body parts after blasts etc needs to stop. Every media outlest has their website where they can post the images/videos which require viewer discretion. People have begun to shun TV screens from children and demonize news channels. If the media does not begin and let its audience feel a sense of self-accountability, it risks of losing credibility – an irreplaceable asset. If the youth (majority of Pakistan) rather than being made aware of the wrongs they need to fix, are disgusted and disgruntled, all the good work being done by the media may be lost.