Who gets to rank news?

Anusha, 15, was found to have burns over 60% of her body. The teenager was brutally murdered by her parents for eyeing a boy. The news about this gruesome incident quickly started swarming the domestic and international media. Eventually it made it to the headlines of many international news channels. Once again Pakistan was given a fair share of international media attention by highlighting the most horrific act of the day.

Pakistan-held Kashmir is probably one of the most peaceful and serene areas of our country. The people are friendly and progressive. I have come across Kashmiri women who come to other provinces for higher education and I know people who are working for the betterment of this hill stations. Crime rate in Pakistan-held Kashmir is minimal. My teenage sister and her friends recently came back from their school trip to the north. It indeed is a piece of heaven on Earth.

But who cares how beautiful the land is and how progressive its inhabitants are when they now only remember it as a place where a mother would kill her own daughter. The credit goes to a week-long dedication of international media to portraying a pure satanic picture of Kashmir’s lush green mountains and crystal clear water streams. I am not saying we should put a veil on our crimes and oppress the matters. I personally condemn the horrible act and I would keep raising my voice until the culprits are given exemplary punishments. I can do that, because I am a Pakistani and it hurts to see my people indulge in barbaric crimes. But the international media has a much more serious responsibility than recklessly embellishing their websites and screens with negative news pieces.

When Anusha was being punished for eyeing a lad, a 16-year-old girl was being raped by two men in central Belfast, Northern Ireland. She was going home from a costume-party when two strangers forced themselves on her. At the same time, Anthony Borrowdale, 56, admitted raping 88-year-old woman in South Yorkshire, England. These are the three crime news I know of, there would be plenty more. Now if you were to decide which one to highlight with a catchy title: what would be your gauge? Well, apparently it is very simple. Highlight the one from Pakistan! Perhaps, that is the most convenient scale been used by a few world-class news agencies, and of course, the remaining just follow the trend.

Just ask yourself a few questions.

1. How can you calculate the intensity of gruesomeness between parallel murder cases?

2. How can you rank one murder as TOP NEWS and another as a routine incident?

3. Who distinguishes between international news and a domestic matter?

Hint: Just type “Pakistan” on the search bar of BBC or CNN websites and decide for yourself whether the international media is biased or not.

I condemn all the criminal activities that take place around the globe, be it human-trafficking, slavery, smuggling, child abuse or barbarianism. I might condemn one more than the other because I am a human and the intensity of my emotions is directly based on my life experiences. I am allowed to cry a little more on my brother’s sports injury than on my cat’s kidney disease. But I am not an international platform where gazillion minds are creating perceptions based on the number of tears I shed. We need to understand our capacity and power.

To me it seems like a media war against Pakistan. One slip and the entire world would gather to spit on you, enter the Guinness Book of World Records and someone else would outshine you.

We are a country with difficult neighbours. We have our stepsister on one side and a divorced wife on the other. We still stand together and we still strive to struggle. People from outside Pakistan need to know the real picture. We are a nation that has fought its wars and is now fighting more wars to keep the rest of the world secure. The least we deserve is the international media to play a fair game. It is my plea to all the journalists and intellects around the globe to reflect upon their judgement of selecting a news piece and then ranking it.

P.S. This article can also be read at http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2012/11/who-gets-to-rank-news/

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