In a report published by “The News” (and a translated copy in “Daily Jang”) yesterday, a frustrated, annoyed and desperate reporter termed social media a gutter and said that social media’s filthy work has adversely impacted the reputed families and business houses across the world.
This report is primarily about a fake document that went loose on internet which alleged 19 journalists, that “The News” calls “Distinguished Journalists”, for getting cash money and land from Malik Riaz, the real estate tycoon.
First thing first:
This kind of report, published by “The News” is an understandable reaction after whistleblowing off-air conversation of Malik Riaz’s interview with Mubashir Luqman and Mehr Bukhari that went viral on internet and blew media houses’ reputation and showed their original face.
As we mentioned in our earlier coverage, main stream media was sure taken back by the muscle that social media demonstrated in first few hours only. Resultantly, main stream media had to strike back to survive, to keep its dominance and to make sure that its revenues aren’t impacted.
Main stream media is yet to fully understand social media, in terms of using it, the core-functionality and ecosystem upon which they are built and work. In fact, though its unfortunate but, main stream media is yet to know the difference between blogs and twitter, Microsoft and Facebook. As an example, check following news once published in “Daily Jang”:
After reading this (rather hilarious) news item it is evident that main stream media, particularly those reporters (and editors) with very limited knowledge of social media, should not try their pen on the topic, or they will only embarrass themselves and their media houses.
Social media, such a Facebook and Twitter, is built by people, who have opinion, facts, figures and information relating to daily life activities and incidents. Social media community or web 2.0 is like human beings in real life who can have information (either false or true) on a particular topic and they share it with others (at times without investigating it).
Believe it or not, social media particularly the Facebook and Twitter is never relied upon when it comes to facts.
There is no way you should trust a fact that is obtained from social media. This is probably why Wikipedia, the largest, most consulted and most trusted community sourced encyclopedia, isn’t accepted as reference for academic researches in many educational institutes around the world, including Pakistan.
This is exactly where main stream media got trapped and they published a list without verification that had appeared on social media.
But instead of accepting its mistake (for not verifying the facts), the main stream media is now using bullying social media by using dirty words.
Just couple of weeks ago, a letter went viral on Facebook saying that Chief Minister Secretariat officially directed Punjab Government officials to follow Shahbaz Sharif on Twitter and Facebook and to un-follow Imran Khan.
When ProPakistani was tipped with the letter, which looked spicy enough for an interesting news, instead of publishing it straight away we investigated and later found that letter was fake. We in fact reported that there is this letter circulating on internet which is fake.
Those media houses who published this fake report of 19 “Distinguished Journalists” getting bribed by Malik Riaz (almost every newspaper and TV channel carried this list) should be questioned for not verifying the letter from Bahria Town head office. Even worse, there was a telephone number mentioned on the letter but reporters were so lazy to call it to get their facts verified.
Its no shame to learn things, particularly those which are new to you. Western world faced same problems earlier when social media had surfaced there. This is probably why they introduced courses such “New Media Studies” to educate their journalists about the impact, dynamics, usability and ethics of digital media.
Social media on its part should play a role as well. We should be more responsible for what we share on our profiles. This is the only way we can be more credible and powerful.
On a side note, giving reference (or credit) to original source can minimize the circulation of fake information.