Qazi Ahmed Naveed
Controlling Yellow Journalism in Pakistan
Yellow journalism is sensationalistic and irresponsible reporting that prioritizes sensational headlines and eye-catching images over factual accuracy. It often relies on exaggerated, misleading, or outright false information to attract readers or viewers and increase circulation or ratings. Furthermore, tycoons control it as financial and political interests are also involved.
There are several kinds of yellow journalism, including:
- Sensationalism: This involves presenting news in a dramatic or exaggerated way to grab the attention of readers or viewers.
- Scare-Mongering: This involves using fear to manipulate readers or viewers into believing something that may not be true.
- Clickbait: This involves using sensational headlines and images to lure readers or viewers into clicking on a story, regardless of its actual content.
- Tabloid Journalism: This involves covering sensational and often scandalous stories, often with little regard for journalistic ethics or the privacy of those involved.
In Pakistan, yellow journalism has been a persistent problem for many years. Many media outlets prioritize sensationalism over accuracy, and political polarization often leads to biased or one-sided reporting. In recent years, there have also been concerns about the spread of fake news and disinformation through social media.
To control yellow journalism in Pakistan, several strategies could be implemented:
- Strengthening media regulations: The government could enact stronger laws and regulations to ensure media outlets are accountable for their reporting. This could involve establishing an independent media regulatory authority or strengthening existing ones.
- Promoting media literacy: Educating the public about critically evaluating news sources and identifying fake news could help reduce the impact of yellow journalism.
- Encouraging responsible reporting: Media outlets could be encouraged to adopt ethical standards and guidelines for reporting and to prioritize accuracy and objectivity over sensationalism.
- Supporting independent media: Supporting independent media outlets that prioritize accuracy and ethical reporting could help counteract the influence of sensationalist or biased reporting.
- Capacity crisis of media: Media has a capacity crisis. Media persons need to be academically more robust and improve in analytics, research and application of modern AI and data science. Lastly, the private ownership of media outlets needs to be regulated. As long as commercial tycoons own media outlets, yellow journalism shall not subside in Pakistan. Therefore, there is a need to transform media outlets into associations, trusts and cooperative societies with shares be distributed among journalists. If journalists become owners through trusts, associations or cooperative societies, the media might control yellow journalism. The best way to run media is through professional journalists rather than commercial owners.
Overall, controlling yellow journalism in Pakistan will require a multi-faceted approach that involves government regulation, media literacy education, responsible reporting, and support for independent media outlets.