Across the world politicians use popular social networking sites such as facebook and twitter not only to mobilize people (particularly younger generation) but also to win their hearts and minds. It is very much normal considering the information and communication revolution and the advent of technology. Nevertheless, why is it such a surprise if Pakistani politicians, following footprints of their western counterparts, also join such social networking sites? Recently, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has joined twitter after the facebook ban in the country. Surprisingly, ‘Rehman Malik Joining the Twitter bandwagon” is big news in Pakistan and both print and electronic media reporters are consuming their energies in reporting this unprecedented event. It is pertinent to note that all the news reports, highlighting Rehman Malik’s joining the twitter, points out the same thing such as : Why Rehman Malik joined twitter, how many people are following him at present, what sort of questions followers are asking from him and what replies our Interior Minister has furnished so far.
This news, first reported by Chris Allbritton of Reuter, was also filed by Pakistani journalists with the same vigor (and a little bit of editing as the contents remains more or less same as that of Chris Allbritton’s report). But this raises few questions:
• Firstly, Rehman Malik Joining Twitter is really some news worth publishing particularly when there are hundreds of stories (worth publishing) being ignored by Pakistani media. For instance, there was no coverage of PC hotel workers strike in Karachi though it was actively covered by Pakistani bloggers like Dr. Awab Alvi. Similarly, there was no media coverage of Mai Jori Jamali’s election campaign, a peasant woman who contested bi-elections in Balochistan. Likewise, press conference of Dr Awab Alvi and other activists on facebook ban and consequent manhandling of Dr. Awab Alvi by angry mobsters (including some journalists) was also not covered by the media?? Why? Only because all (the cases which I mentioned above) were raising their voice against status quo?
• Secondly, why media exert their energies on reporting on non-issues when there is a plethora of real issues? We have always been hearing by our politicians and development workers that media could play a role of a change agent because of its level of influence and reach to common people. In that regard, why women issues are given less coverage? Why corruption in society is not highlighted the way it should be?? Why gross human rights violations are never surfaced??
• Thirdly, why media has such an ambiguous stand on certain issues, for instance facebook ban?? Is not this ban anti ‘freedom of speech’ and if yes then why media is not very vocal and express what is rational???
I don’t have any answer to these questions but I would request my readers to shed some light on questions, I underlined above, and enlighten me with their responses. Besides, if you guys would like to read the news of Rehman Malik joining twitter and want to get amused then you can find it here, here and here….