Monday, March 8, 2010

The Only News Not Fit To Print

If the protesting workers at a posh hotel occupy part of the establishment, you would think that this is a good enough City Pages news story. Or that for TV news bulletins, it’ll make a nice little piece towards the end of the bulletin - just before they have the mandatory news of the weird about skating squirrels or dancing pandas. So how come we haven’t heard anything, anything about the continuing protest by the Pearl Continental (PC) Karachi workers - some 150-odd - who have occupied the hotel basements in protest against summary dismissals?

The 'underground' workers' protest at the PC
(Photos: International Socialists Pakistan)

The protest has been going on for almost two weeks now. Express News reporters turned up and did a story but it was never aired. Similarly, a Geo reporter interviewed some of the protestors, but we never saw the story. DawnNews people also turned up, did some interviews and then probably couldn’t decide whether they should run it in their Urdu or English stream. No story. None of the Karachi newspapers with the exception of Urdu Daily Ummat has covered it.

As Teeth Maestro points out here, the owner of the PC chain, Sadruddin Hashwani is a "Brahmin", i.e very well connected (more details about the protest can be found on Teeth Maestro's blog as well as this one). Also Hashwani provides steady advertising revenue and all the media houses get sweet corporate deals to use the hotel facilities.

Even a sit-in outside failed to move the media

But my feeling is that Hashwani or any of his lackeys hasn’t even called anyone to get the story killed. Our media tycoons and their editors (or news directors as they are called in TV channels) seem to have an unwritten code that says that you shall not run a negative story about anyone who advertises. Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a negative story about Atlas Honda, Dalda, Zong, Standard Chartered, or even Shaan Masala?

Are we to assume that there has never been anything worth reporting from the world of big business except PR type stuff like product launches and sales conferences? I don’t really follow the business press but if any of you guys have seen anything like this please do share with us.

And if, as working journalists, we are not allowed to cover objectively any business that advertises with us, then surely all the lively, kick-ass stories we see on our media are because of the fact that someone forgot to pay our seth.


nayyares said...

i am getting nuts, how THE DAWN news behave on it! i always rated them as honest reporting tv channel plus newspaper. i never thought they can even keep a "topi drama" policy as Geo, Express etc. fake tv news channels

Anonymous said...

Jang Group has many times risked their revenues for taking right stand. I can't say it so firmly for DAWN. Pakistan needs a Revolution not sit=down protests.

Umair J said...

@Anon 852: yeah, these protests against exploitative corporate capitalists are really standing in the way of the real revolution...if you put your ear to the can almost hear it coming...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am also hearing it. A revolution is need of time to end ever increasing cruel exploitation of poor masses.

Wyse Guy said...

Thanks Cafe Pyaala.

You're probably right about Mr Hashwani not leaning on any media channel. Pakistani outlets practice more self-censorship than anything. Although they might be scared of losing their sweetheart room deals and worry about transferring to the Naulakha Hotel whenever they move around the country.

@ Umair J: Nice response, but don't be cute with right wing morons like these. Slap'em verbally upside the head.

@ Anon 9:26 and 8:52. You IDIOT. These striking workers ARE THE EXPLOITED POOR MASSES.

Sit down protests are a revolution. Do you want them to go Mumbai style on the PC like it's the Taj or Oberoi hotel?

I'm sure that and the explosions we've been having lately (and the riots they inspire) are your idea of a revolution.

Wyseguy said...

Revolution is over rated.

Pay the workers their damn wage and leave their jobs alone.

Philistine said...

Cafe Pyala, thank you for publicizing this excellent news! although it's not really 'news' is it, heh.

Wyseguy: how many revolutions have you witnessed to come to that sobering conclusion? STATUS QUO IS OVERRATED I SAY!! Also, capitalists not paying workers their wages is sort of the entire problem (see: surplus appropriation).

AKS said...

@ Philistine

"Also, capitalists not paying workers their wages is sort of the entire problem"

Well no, we could do with a few capitalists, as long as we can get rid of these feudals.

And while I admire the fact that you're a counter-revolutionary, God knows we need a few, I'm inclined to side with Wyseguy. Very, very few revolutions actually work. They're usually bloody and leave a place worse off. Societal change requires patience.

Anonymous said...

(Not so) Wise Guy - Revolution does not mean bombing and killing only. Revolution is to stop exploitation by changing system. It could be a complete shutdown of system or offering sacrifices like Iranian revolution to uproot the corrupt and fascist rule.

Anonymous said...

I used to edit one of the major features sections in the country, and once we ran a negative-ish story about a PC initiative. Pressure was brought to bear on our owner - can't say more, but the PC people do keep tabs on the media.