KARACHI: Saturday, day two, at the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) had a serious discussion worth pondering about “Invasive Media: Right to Privacy” and a non-serious discussion about humor that you hope to see soon to leave behind. Satire and mimicry ‘Hum Sangeen Mazaq ke Lapait Mein Grove [We Are in the Grips of Extreme Fun]’ take place in a row in the main garden of the Beach Luxury Hotel.
Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, the first session, moderated by Wajahat Saeed Khan, had a number of journalists including Mazhar Abbas, Asma Shirazi and Zarrar Khuhro on the podium, while the other had Shehzad Ghias Shaikh speaking to “Banana Boys”. . , namely the brothers Mustafa, Murtaza and Faysal Chaudhry.
Speaking about what is or isn’t shown on our news channels, Zarrar Khhuro said politics shouldn’t be the only thing covered on them. “There was one study on very high levels of toxins in paint, another on toxic metals like lead in drinking water. How much coverage did these stories get? There’s so much going on out there that we don’t know about, but we prefer to cover politics,” he said.
Pondering whether we are better journalists now, Asma Shirazi said that journalists have evolved from the time they criticized the confusion of the constitution in the days of General Ziaul Haq to the abuses during Benazir Bhutto’s PPP government and received threats from the Taliban, challenging the laws that imposed restrictions on the media during the Nawaz Sharif period, etc. “It’s our job to criticize what’s wrong, and through that we evolve and get better and better at it.” , she said.
Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas recalled the time when there was censorship in newspapers during the Gen Zia era. “The information department took out messages and we left spaces in those columns. Then we are told not to leave the space empty so that in this empty space we will print some messages against the dictatorship in Argentina. We knew then that people have a right to know what is going on. But now people seem to know even more than we journalists do,” he said.
“We have become part of fake news and agenda-driven journalism. Now, when people see a message, they wonder if we’re informing them or disinforming them,” he added.
When the presenter addressed social media at the time, Mr. Kuhro surprised many by saying he didn’t love social media. “I see a screenshot and, like any journalist, I will try to verify it. We all came across this picture of little Zainab Ansari from Kasur on Twitter with her pink school bag. The investigation into Zainab’s murder actually started on social media. But everything you receive on WhatsApp is just plain junk 99 percent of the time. No, Bill Gates didn’t text your uncle. So use your common sense. But back when fake news was a new phenomenon, you could also tell what wasn’t true, but now when you get 200 fake news in a day, it’s not that easy,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, when asked if being a woman or a journalist is more difficult, Ms Shirazi spoke of the many challenges she faces as a journalist. “Men can defend themselves against character assassination and scandals, women not so easily. Women are trolled, fake news is spread about them, they are also threatened. It’s so difficult to survive in this society where even your children are being targeted. Women are soft targets,” she said.
The role of Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) in regulating the media was also discussed. Mr Abbas said he has a collection of 700 to 800 communications from Pemra to various channels about crimes such as a presenter who wore dark lipstick and failed to properly cover her head with a dupatta. “This type of regulation is only used to restrict, not moderate, the media,” he concluded.
The next session in the same place about humor, satire and mimicry of the three brothers and their stand-up comedian host started late because not all brothers were initially present.
They then shared several jokes that were not only in bad taste, but bordered on vulgarity. They really had to understand that you don’t have to be dirty to sound funny.
Published in Dawn, February 19, 2023