Journalism reflects the social and political conditions of any society. The primary function of the media is to inform, criticize and provide analytical thoughts and vision in the best interest of the society. Still when electronic and internet media brought revolution in the media industry; print media kept its high-value status in the society as being a watchdog and opinion-maker. The newspapers are the portrait of a society that holds mirror to the society.
In Pakistan, where the nation is still dealing with the basic communal, economic and political issues; journalism is found to be limited within the reporting of everyday issues. Where insecurity, lack of opportunities, increasing poverty and political instability are promoting corruption, in Pakistan, the media is becoming a commercialized venture rather than a professional service of providing healthy information and publicizing truths without prejudice. If people have reasonable understanding of issues and problems they are less likely to suffer any conflict and the media possesses an important role in spreading the truth and delivering the facts with analysis on issues and problems.
There was a time when there were only 3 to 4 mainstream daily newspapers in entire Pakistan. These newspapers were fervently well objective in their pursuit. They sought to serve well-defined public interests and national cause. Every available resource and professional _expression was dedicated to deliver positive and quality journalism to the readers. The print media was very popular and had a high quality, informative and well focused & positive journalism. The prices of newspapers were so reasonable that the people could easily afford to buy them on daily basis. In return, these newspapers had loyal and regardful readers.
The increasing cost of print production elevated the prices of publications remarkably. In the last decade or so there has been a 200 percent shoot-up in price. Now it became unaffordable for a common person to buy these daily publications due to their high prices.
Consequently, there are many cheap publications in the market now but the situation is more depressing than ever before due to their ambiguous journalism. Now, one can find up to 20 to 30 daily print publications in every metropolitan city. These newsprint publications contain 4 to 6 pages and prices ranging from 2 to 5 Rupees. Though these newspapers provide timely reporting on the events taken place in the day, however, analyzing the contents, facts and counting the commercial items in there one can easily conclude that these daily newspapers are hardly delivering healthy, informative and objective journalism except exhilarating stories which are easy to sale to the common people.
Of course, commercial aspect of any publication is an essential part along with the professional and missionary aspects for a successful publication. However, there must be a fair balance between these dimensions bonding with the moral and ethical values. Regrettably, the newsprint industry is now so much commercialized and becoming business endeavor that daily newspapers now look like advertising material. Even, top leading newspapers could not save themselves from crossing the boundaries of ethical needs and found comprising with the journalistic demands. They are also found in the war of money-making. More than half of the page are advertisements on the front-page in the leading newspapers.
High cost of publication is not only the reason of falling quality of journalism. The lack of professional institutes, facilities to learn the needs of modern journalism, knowledge and feeling the moral & ethical values being media associates are another factor of deficiencies.
It is understandable that in the present world, media is pervasive, highly competitive and there is a high demand of exciting stories. Nevertheless a journalist can still fulfill the demands of the task without loosing the prime responsibility of national and civic interest. Media provides voice to various segments of the society and also plays role of being an influential force on public leaders and government heads. A journalist can still do the job without comprising on principles and short term incentives and put himself away from yellow journalism.
Media in some cases may have some degree of unprofessional and biased attitude as this can be seen in any modern society but it can be improved. This can be achieved if the professionals can be provided with regular trainings, workshops and seminars and equipped with professional skills.
An independent and strong media is absolutely essential for any civilized society. In Pakistan, media is very free compared to other countries in the region. However, compared with the western world, still the freedom of press is not being fully served in the interest of the society and still found behind in playing its vital role in making the peoples’ thoughts as one civilized nation. In the west, indeed, there are cases of impartiality in the media yet the press freedom never rules over the national interest and ethical values.