Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin (Source: Dawn / Reuters)
So the story is, I actually had the scoop about Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin's resignation having been accepted - ostensibly because he's needed back at Silk Bank, which he owns - at about 9pm tonight. Problem was, I couldn't completely confirm it. Bigger problem was I was away from the net. And by the time, I finally got to a computer, Kamran Khan had led with the story in his 10 o' clock show on Geo. Pretty pathetic I must admit. And no, I don't expect you to believe it. If someone else told me the same story, I would probably say, well, too bad, but who cares you had the story earlier. Point is, Kamran Khan broke the story.
But it did make me think a bit about scoops. In the olden days, scoops operated on a day-basis: which newspaper got the story a day before the others. Wire agencies - those who supply news to newspapers - of course operated on a much more stringent timeframe, since agencies competed with each other to be the first to break the news to other news organizations. But generally, the average person (i.e. those not working in newspaper offices) hardly ever discovered which agency got the scoop first.
Since the advent of 24-hour television and the web, that whole languid manner of working has gone out the window (pardon the pun). And everyone with access to television and the net has access to breaking news, even from wire agencies. Of course, the race to achieve first-status is why all manner of mayhem is unleashed on the unsuspecting public, with half-baked and even sometimes completely untrue stories making it out there. But despite what DawnNews may think, you really cannot have a news channel that ignores the breaking news (as an aside, while Kamran Khan was breaking the news about Shaukat Tarin, DawnNews' new Urdu programme hosted by Wusatullah Khan was running a fascinating discussion about the place of 'regional' languages in the national psyche). It's the nature of the beast. The best you can do is to try and tame the excesses of news organizations, through laying greater audience store in the checking of facts. It's a long-term process, however, where audiences force channels through their viewership / ratings to provide them correct information. If there is any other viable (i.e. non-draconian) alternative, I don't know it.
I also thought about whether scoops really matter to anyone other than media people. I mean, I can think of some stories that might save lives (e.g. you hear about firing going on in an area you are about to go to before you get there) but, generally, most scoops can hold for a few hours or even a day. For example, would it really make a difference to a common viewer / reader if they found out that the Supreme Court struck down the NRO the day before? Would finding out about Shaukat Tarin's resignation tomorrow really negatively affect anyone other than perhaps people who might want to lobby for his post and find themselves out-lobbied? Isn't the act of scooping closely tied in with egos and entertainment?
Just some things I was thinking about...(And I'm not being a sore loser; I have already accepted that I lost the "race.")
In any case, coming back to the Shaukat Tarin story, Kamran Khan named three possible successors to his post: Arif Habib CEO Nasir Baig, former State Bank governor Dr Ishrat Hussain and former PPP finance minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin. From my sources, apparently, the President's camp and the Prime Minister's camp have their own favourites. Baig, who is incidentally the brother-in-law of Anwar Majeed, Zardari's so-called right hand man (who is also related to Shaukat Tarin through the marriage of their offspring), and Shahabuddin are apparently in the President Zardari's list, as is PPP MNA Naveed Qamar. PM Yousuf Raza Gilani's list, on the other hand, has, in addition to Hussain, current state minister Hina Rabbani Khar and economist Dr Hafeez Pasha. Who eventually gets picked may indicate which way the wind is blowing. In fact, having one of Zardari's nominees get the post would be no big deal. One of them not getting it, on the other hand, might be.