Category Archives: Media

On Flo guilt, Gen Petraeus and the Express-Tribune – it’s eclectic Saturday!

I had dinner at Cafe Flo, a very upmarket Karachi restaurant, last night, and came away with several competing emotions, all vying for the rather limited space in my brain. At first I felt guilty for having spent so much money on what was, essentially, just a meal – this was closely followed by the realisation that the amount in question was, frankly, preposterous for anything not made of solid gold.

Mostly, though, I found that my overwhelming feeling was of not actually being full.

Ah well.


– Metaphor of the day: US CENTCOM chief Gen Petraeus says the Taliban are a bunch of snakes. And the ISI are aged babas with flutes, then?  On a slightly more serious note, Petraeus does seem to grasp the set-up of this conflict, from Pakistan’s point of view, fairly well, and in his testimony at the ongoing congressional hearings he sometimes comes off sounding more like a Pakistani diplomat than a man who’s running the US war – in essence, he’s been pleading with the politicians not to push Pakistan’s establishment too far with their favourite stick: the ‘Do More’.

– Sindh High Court developments you’ve probably not heard about, but should care about: in the ongoing defamation case filed by PPP Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab against The News‘s Ansar Abbasi, the SHC bench has upheld a stay against the defendant, barring him from publishing material that defames any party without adequate proof. That a High Court stay-order was needed for this to happen is indicative of the level of responsibility in Pakistani journalism today. The court noted in its remarks when upholding the order, which Mr Abbasi appealed on the grounds that it apparently stopped him from ‘doing his job’ (!!), that the court was not ordering him to do anything that he shouldn’t be doing anyway.
Watch this space, as The News is using the case to claim that it is being unfairly victimised. The firm pursuing the case, according to sources within it, is going to aggressively push this case as far as it will go, and is prepared to file contempt of court charges the moment Abbasi steps out of line, on any story. The same firm, in fact, has obtained a stay-order against columnists Shaheen Sehbai and Anjum Niaz and TV channel Dunya News for writing/broadcasting uncorroborated stories about Riaz Lalljee, a Karachi businessman who was recently abducted and then released in mysterious circumstances. If the SHC takes an activist line on pursuing these cases, watch for many, many more to be filed, and maybe, just maybe, the media in this country will begin to think about the importance of accuracy in reporting.

– Finally, I can’t figure out  what the Express-Tribune is for. Take a look at this Opinion page on the website. From the excerpts and headlines, the only conclusion I can reach is that it’s a newspaper where burgers and people ‘just like Jinnah’ from the professional classes can write open letters to Pervez Musharraf, the Chief of Army Staff, and PM Gilani’s janitor.
I’m sure it makes sense, to someone. Damned if I can figure it out, though.


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Today’s random reading.

This piece by the excellent Simon Jenkins at The Guardian.

An autumn sun was shining. A late rose bloomed in the garden. The blackbird was in song. Then the BBC did its bit. No sooner was the morning news over than the radio cried: “Now for rape … We should warn listeners that this programme contains explicit descriptions of rape.” Just the thing for a nice cup of coffee.

A presumably female audience was then treated to a morning menu of unrelieved misery. After rape, Woman’s Hour gave them codeine addicts, war widows, thigh-high boots and heroin-dosed children taken into care. A discussion on how to survive brain damage offered some light relief.

This fare was not exceptional. A Martian listening to Radio 4 today would assume that the females on planet Earth were a genus of raped, harassed, child-oppressed, drug-addicted, underpaid and joyless victims, living in a perpetual state of dependency and bowel cancer. Not since Genesis have women had a worse press.

Also, this from The Guardian‘s Sportsblog, on sportswriting.

The last thing the sportblog needs is an essay straddling the disparate worlds of media studies and amateur psychology, especially on a subject as esoteric as the American media’s bizarre obsession with the British media. But it’s my blog, so here goes. I promise to keep it short.

Sports journalism in America has long had a very high opinion of itself. This was justified in years past, when the likes of Jim Murray, Red Smith and, latterly, Rick Reilly established themselves as the finest sportswriters in the English language. That tradition has faded in recent years, although the self-regard has not. The upshot is a refusal of some – though not all – American sports journalists to face up to their own failings, the most grating of which is abject sycophancy towards those whom they cover. Rather than address this, and other, flaws, it is much easier to address what they perceive to be the flaws of others, not least because it reinforces their own sense of misplaced superiority.


Filed under Media, Musings