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 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.
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.