Considering the number of news channels currently running in Pakistan it is evident that Pakistanis have a great appetite for keeping them informed. Also, the number of current affairs talk shows on each of these channels, and their popularity there off, proves that Pakistanis have a high interest in knowing how things are being done, rightly or wrongly, by the ruling and opposing key decision makers. From above one can comfortably conclude that the electronic media is doing a great job of keeping the people informed (read alarmed) of the situation.
But is that enough? I think they can do better.
Knowing the situation and asking the questions is good. At a common individual person’s level may be that’s all one can do. However, the same comment is not applicable on the news channels, their talk shows anchor persons and production teams. They should be gauged to a higher bar. For them just continue informing people of the situation and just continue raising questions is not enough, it is not a job well, rather fully, done. They have the resources and influence to gather the knowledgeable people and industry leaders of respective fields, they have highly educated, trained and professional teams to gather, analyze and process data and information, and above all they have the right eyes watching and right ears listening to them. Their contents and voice reach the highest echelons of the government where it matters. Their intention may be good, but in my humble opinion, by doing what they are doing today they are doing an incomplete job, they are doing a disservice to the nation, they are only creating a panic rather than a hope.
They are spending hours on informing the patient, and their loved ones, of what is happening inside their body and its consequences, that their condition is worsening every day, that necessary medical equipment is not being available or not being used, that the medical professionals are not competent etc. etc. All above is good information but the most important thing the patient and their families need is first a hope that yes, patient can recover soon and what needs to be done to improve things. Or if the doctors are lost, they need professional advice that would help, nothing else. Sure, there can be difference in opinion on the right course of action, but at least bring something constructive at the table to be discussed.
On the other side are the viewers to these shows. Viewers have a love hate relationship with these shows. Every day and several times a day, in almost every gathering these talk shows are discussed and criticized that they just gather few big wigs and help starting a dog fight to get TRP and nothing good comes out of these shows. People would laugh about it, would make fun of these shows, would complain they are waste of time, BUT would not stop watching the same. Logically if one feels something is not valuable and is waste of time, they can send the strongest signal to the channel by easily switching the channel and by watching something more informative or constructive but that does not happen. Obviously, the talk shows continue churning their garbage and continue getting good TRPs and continue getting the advertisement and people continue making complains but continue watching the same, and the show goes on.
All above is counterproductive!
Any discussion of a problem or criticism of a situation without offering a solution, however simple or complex, is a waste of time and actually is demoralizing, demotivating and destructive. No wonder the nation is so demoralized, devoid of hopes and have lost confidence in local government, local system and local people. No wonder we look outside for finding solutions of each of our problems however local they may be. No wonder outside solutions never work as neither they are local nor customized to local situation and circumstances.
So, what should be done.
- Continue having the talk shows
- Continue inviting knowledgeable people and industry leaders to these shows
- Continue talking about problems and issues and analyzing the same
However, just don’t stop there
- Don’t just ask questions, ask for solutions too
- Ask the group and/or panel of knowledgeable people to come up with practical and local solution(s), both short term and long term, that is based on local resources, local infrastructure, local work environment, local culture and uses local human resources.
- Establish formal think tanks of these knowledgeable people
- Assign them specific issues/problems being discussed in the programs
- Give them target timelines
- Ask them to do research
- Ask them to formally present their solutions that include desired objectives, actions to achieve those objectives, numbers to justify actions and numbers to show current situation and projected results
- Through the program this information already reaches the key decision makers, however, formally submit these recommendations to relevant ministers and secretaries (both separately)
- Follow up with the decision makers on what happened to the proposals submitted, and
- Keep your viewers informed of all above
- Actions or non-actions of the decision makers will tell common people who works and who does not, and they can make an informed decision who to vote in next elections
This way you are not only keeping people informed but also making a positive contribution in improving everything in your country.
October 14, 2019
The writer is a professional marketer and engineer with good work exposure to governments, and businesses and industries in the private sector in several countries. Idea is to take the first step in adding value to anything that one gets exposed to instead of just complaining about the same.