Media convergence has opened new avenues for reaching out and raising voices. Media in Pakistan has a turbulent history since independence however, it has not only survived the trials and tribulation of time but has managed to secure a respectable position in the society.
According to a report by International Media Support, “The Pakistani media landscape reflects a multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic and class-divided society. There is a clear divide between Urdu and English media. Urdu media, particularly the newspapers, are widely read by the masses – mostly in rural areas. The English media is urban and elite-centric, is more liberal and professional compared to the Urdu media. English print, television and radio channels have far smaller audiences than their Urdu counterparts, but have greater leverage among opinion makers, politicians, the business community, and the upper strata of society”.
The people of Gilgit Baltistan mainly depended on the mainstream print media until the late 70s when indigenous print media made its debut and became a ray of hope for the underprivileged and depressed people living in these beautiful mountains not just as citizens of Pakistan but as silent defenders of its borders. The role of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation cannot be denied in the development of GB which established its radio stations in Gilgit and Baltistan in the late 70s.
The liberalization of media in GB is obvious given the fact that today we have access to above 15 dailies and weeklies, a number of magazines, blogs, and online papers originating from Gilgit and Baltistan. A breakthrough in community media was recently made by KPN in the shape of FM radio which has become popular among listeners especially the youth. Cables in major cities and towns have also gained importance. Unfortunately, we feel the absence of an indigenous TV station but we are hopeful that in the near future, that will be no more a dream. Internet and mobile technology is permeating in our society at an unimaginable speed.
To put in a nutshell, this is a huge progress and we consider all this as a great strength for the society as a whole. However, there are some caveats which need to be kept in mind i.e.
1. In the competition for economic gains, we may tend to move from quality journalism to sensationalism
2. In the process of digitizing our society for the sake of outreach, we may tend to exclude other segments of society hence the concept of digital divide… what could be the alternative solutions?
3. How do we see the role of media in development of the society as opposed to creating hype and making further divisions
4. In a democratic society, will media be the voice of unheard and unprivileged or still it will encourage the spiral of silence—hence strengthening certain voices at the cost of others
5. How can we use media to bring peace, prosperity, good governance, pluralism, common thinking and above all rational and intellectual thinking instead of emotionalism, favoritism, cynicism and sense of insecurity? And many more……
Lets us use media to its best for building a nation that is strong in terms of institutions, systems, laws, internal security and external relations
Sultan Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Department of Media and Communication, KIU Note: Presented during an interactive session with journalists from Lahore representing Lahore Education Reporting Association (LERA) at KIU on May 27, 2011