I haven’t really had the chance to get around to writing on the entire Maya Khan issue, and frankly, as much I was would love to verbally eviscerate her, I don’t see why I need to bother after reading Mehreen Kasana’s excellent blog on the issue. While I may or may not do so, I feel it is imperative to speak on the topic of the apology issued by Samaa, and the smug in-yo-face self-masturbatory bs from Maya Khan, which we are to believe is meant to be apologetic.

I have always been deeply bothered by inaction. One of the reasons I’m so passionate about journalism is because , even though I am only blogging as a student right now, I know that I still have a voice, that I can use it, and that my indignation will not be confined to just Facebook status updates.

And when it comes to the unethical practices by our media, I feel that there is great inaction amongst the masses. Whenever there is a class discussion on such a topic, my teacher always laughs and says, to every question, “because the media thinks the people are stupid.” And the fact of the matter is, he’s right. People prefer to sit and bitch about unethical practices in the media, but that is where their diatribe stops. (I refuse to use the cliched drawing room comparison, because, it is, to put it quite simply, disgustingly cliched and over-used). What people do not understand is that it is quite easy to take the media to task, but that can only happen if you take action. The sort of action that people took over Maya Khan’s outrageous, downright blasphemous breach of ethics. From comments on Facebook, to letters, to phonecalls, to texts, heck, even an op-ed in ET, people, for once, demanded that Samaa take responsibility, that they be held accountable, that they acknowledge what a huge mistake they made. And the result was successful. Whether Maya Khan means her apology, half-assed as it is or not, is not what matters. What matters is that now, not just Samaa, but other news channels also know that people are not stupid. People do not like being treated like sheep. People do not like being manipulated. And that if you try to do any of the above, then people are going to be very, very, very angry.

And this is actually how, in my humble opinion, the relationship between the media and masses works effectively. When Janet Jackson had her little wardrobe malfunction on the Super Bowl, it was the people who, in outrage and indignation, filed complaints. In fact, the Parents Television Council, a media watchdog group filed a complaint against the incident. The senator of Georgia spoke in the US Senate about how it displayed the declining morality in America. (Not an opinion I support btw-there is nothing immoral in a woman’s body, when it has been objectified and sexualized by the very society that then demands that she covers her shame. I agree that it was media irresponsibility only). The result was that the FCC fined CBS for the show, and MTV was not allowed to produce any future half-time shows for the Super Bowl.

Even Adam Lambert’s sexual performance on the AMAs, where he grabbed his crotch, shoved a dancer’s face in his crotch, and kissed one of his male band members on stage was criticized. Again, being pro-LGBT, it really isn’t something I agree with- frankly, I was too busy laghing hysterically at how bad the song was, and how desperate Madam Lambert seemed to salvage his performance somehow to care about who he was kissing- but what must be noted here is that the television viewers actually bothered to complain about the incident. They did not sit and bitch about it to their friends, their family, their co-workers, etc. for a couple of days and then forget about it. They. Took. Action.

I find it very frustrating that our people seldom do the same, even though they know that there has been a breach of ethics in our media. Our broadcast media specially, has allowed this perception to settle into people’s minds, that its useless to say anything, because the media just won’t change. But if that is the case, explain why Maya Khan and Samaa have been forced to apologize for lying to people on television, and then broadcasting such an assrapery of ethics. I’m sorry, I’d really like to talk in a more sophisticated manner, but assrapery is the only way I can describe such a murder of media ethics.

I think its a crying shame that our media is allowed to get away with murder, specially considering how many noble and brilliant journalists there are in the world, who risk their lives, who work so hard at their job. I genuinely beliee that journalism is a noble profession, no matter how bastardized its been throughout the world. Don’t even look to Bob Woordward or Edward Murrow or Anna Politkovskaya. Look only to our own journalists. To Saleem Shahzad, to Wali Khan Babar. That, in my opinion, is the true face of journalism, however distorted it might have become from the ethical violations and downright stupidity from the likes of Meher Bokhari or Maya Khan.

Until and unless you act, there is no point in whinging about the state of the media. If we do not react appropriately, our media is going to keep continuing with such practices, and what’s worries me is exactly how far they’ll go. Maya Khan already showed us how far she’s willing to go for her 15 minutes of fame. May the magic make-believe man in the sky or the flying spaghetti monster help us if the entire media industry goes Maya Khan on us. But as worrying as that thought is, remember; they will only degenerate further if we allow them to, and if we do not hold them accountable. Do not let our reaction to Maya Khan be a one-time incident. Make it a habit to demand responsibility from our media.

And if you’re too lazy to take action, fucking stop whinging to me about how horrible my future fucking profession is because really, I don’t give a rat’s ass and you’re annoying me, which is always a really bad idea.

ETA: Someone commented on Facebook saying, “Finally we have a voice and we have power thanks to the internet”. But it must be pointed out that the masses always had a voice and they always had the power to hold the media accountable. This is just one of the rare times they’ve bothered to actually utilize said power, and demand media responsibility. Congratulations sheep, your baaing got Maya and her team of morons fired.

The letter which says Maya Khan’s services from Samaa TV will be terminated has been circulating on social media websites and is reportedly signed by CEO Zafar Siddiqui.

Dear All

Your feedback is appreciated. As a responsible corporate citizen, Samaa TV did what was required under the circumstances. We do not and have not in the past or intend to in the future to take our viewership or reporting requirements without the seriousness that they deserve.

You would appreciate that as an organisation with a functioning management team, we had to conduct certain legal requirements over the past week and internal review processes (which are operational in nature) before procedding further.

As a result of which I can inform you:

  1. We asked Maya to apologise unconditionally which she did not.
  2. The CEO asked her to do that on Friday which she refused.

As a result of which the following will be put in place on Monday, Jan 30th.

  1. Maya and her team will receive termination notices.
  2. Her show is being stopped from Monday morning.

Our deeds and actions taken since this episode occured are there for the record and hope this will settle issues as far as the station is concerned.

A lot has been written about the race for ratings. Well, we do absolve such behaviour irrespective of ratings that the show was getting.

With best regards and thank you for your understanding.

Zafar Siddiqi

Chairman CNBC Arabiya

Chairman CNBC Africa

President CNBC Pakistan


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