The mainstream news media as we see today has predominantly become a striking picture of the famous story “The boy who cried wolf”. In the story, a shepherd boy calls on villagers for help by shouting “Wolf, wolf” and once the villagers rush down for his help, he laughs and mocks at them. However when the wolf does actually shows up, there is no one to heed to his bouts of help. The moral of the story is, “No one believes a liar even when he is telling the truth”.
However calling news media blatantly a liar is not the purpose of this article. What news media displays can be called an exaggeration when it comes to the part of “breaking news”. Every kind of news these days has become the breaking news. Previously, such news caught everyone’s attention and heart rate but slowly the trend began to lose its charm, people though still felt anxious but slowly realized that there was no wolf and that their sheep was totally safe, hence stopped paying attention and became very casual about the term “breaking news”. So once there actually came what could fit in the category of breaking news, people didn’t pay even an iota of a heed and thus the wolf took away all the sheep.
It is high time that the news channels re-focus on the definition of breaking news. The term breaking news needs to be described, understood and agreed upon. Such news should be the one that affects national security, common man’s life or is related to natural disasters etc. Two Prime Ministers meeting one another is news and hence should not be put into the category of breaking news, man dying because of cylinder blast in Gujranwala is also news and not breaking news. Breaking news includes instances like curfew, war, pandemic outbreak, natural disaster etc. Breaking news affects everyone. If a governor is not treated well by another governor, it is not a concern of every Pakistani and definitely not something that everyone should know about.
It is media’s responsibility to put forth the image of Pakistan in national and international light as a priority rather than ratings. Ratings are important at their own place but media needs to be mature enough to understand that objective journalism doesn’t involve sensationalism.
As new research areas are being explored and charge sheets are being prepared for news channels, media must re-define what is newsworthy and what isn’t. A prime time news bulletin definitely should not broadcast unnecessary information.
PEMRA must also look into the matter carefully.