BlogWatch: Pakistani media criticized for plane crash coverage | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 24.04.2012
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BlogWatch: Pakistani media criticized for plane crash coverage

After the recent passenger plane crash in Pakistan, bloggers and the online community are furious at the authorities, government and most of all, the local media's coverage of the unfortunate event.

Last Friday witnessed another tragic incident in Pakistan's aviation history when a passenger airplane crashed approximately five kilometers away from the capital, Islamabad. All 127 people onboard lost their lives. The Bhoja Air Boeing 737 had been travelling from Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, to Islamabad when it went down shortly before landing. Investigations are currently underway as to what factors lead to the accident.

Government takes action

According to the latest reports, Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority has started the inspection of all airplanes operated by private airlines in the country. The government on Sunday ordered all national airliners to undergo new safety tests.

Meanwhile, according to local Pakistani media, another passenger aircraft escaped disaster on Sunday at Karachi airport after a tire burst while landing. The pilot managed to land the plane safely without any damage.

Online community highly critical of media

The online community in Pakistan was quick to express its sentiments across social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter were filled with remarks, tweets and angry comments, criticizing the concerned authorities and government officials. The strongest criticism, however, was aimed at the media which has been blamed of sensationalizing the incident in its coverage.

"Bollywoodising news reports with emotionally charged musical numbers and carefully crafted, tear-inducing narratives should be grounds for termination of broadcasting rights," writes Muhammad Talha Zaheer in his blog for the online edition of a Pakistan daily, Express Tribune. Zaheer is of the opinion that the plight of the sufferers should not be used as a battleground for ratings. The blogger demands action from the local regulatory authority saying, "PEMRA, if you want to censor and ban anything, this is your cue. No longer should channels be allowed to invade private spaces, especially of those mourning the loss of loved ones."

Clean up workers and members of the media at the site of the wreckage

The media has been criticized for 'sensationalizing' the crash

Opining on Muhammad Talha Zaheer's blog Sarah H. seconds these thoughts: "The Pakistani media is still in the stage of infancy and thus capitalizes on people's emotions." Recalling past events, Sarah further writes, "Two years back when a plane crashed in the Margalla Hills, there were reports showing charred flesh and other gory details pertaining to the accident. Relatives were caught on camera, crying and screaming, with melancholy music playing in the background."

Another blogger, Shyema Sajjad writing for DAWN newspaper's online edition was also highly critical of the media. She writes that the media's job is to convey developments responsibly but feels that in this case, it failed to do so. "It played with people's sentiments, conveyed irrelevant bits of information and made their viewers watch scenes that will continue to flash across their minds long after the victims are buried," writes the blogger. She adds, "This is not journalism, this is exploitation."

Some bloggers have also written about the lack of organisation and services for the relatives of the victims. A blog website by the name of Doodh Patti Blogs features a blog by Yousuf Rafi who claims that hundreds of panicked men and women gathered at the airport only to jostle around in a maze of rumours, as no Bhoja Air or the Civil Aviation Authority staff were present to deal with the situation. In his blog, the blogger highlights the lack of organisation in the aftermath of the accident in Islamabad.

Once again, people have come forward and voiced their concerns and opinions on platforms across social media. But to what extent they will be able to impact the government's strategy with respect to maintaining standards in the aviation industry, remains to be seen.

Author: Aasim Saleem
Editor: Sarah Berning

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