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Tuesday Oct 10 2017

Is the media’s portrayal of Karachi knife attacker justified?


The metropolis was recently racked by multiple knife attacks on women, leading to fear as the police continues to be baffled by the attacker’s identity.

The media coverage of such issues is something to be discussed at length — especially as it is a tool which has the influence to impact minds.

The attacks which started from September 25, were initially reported on a three to four kilometers stretch of Gulistan-e-Jauhar. The attacker then increased his area of activity, extending it to adjacent the neighbourhood of Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Geo News reporter Ahmer Rehman said the CCTV cameras are of such poor-quality that they do not aid in the investigation, for instance, the attacker’s face and number plate are extremely hard to figure out.

Ahmer who actively partook in the coverage was of the opinion that police jumping to action was primarily due to the media’s extensive coverage of the incidents.

SSP East Samiullah Soomro said the police are conducting overnight raids and people are quite cooperative as well.

The police official, however, implored the public to not crank call regarding the attacker as it diverts the attention of police.

Senior analyst Mazhar Abbas said that news should never be suppressed, although it should be borne in mind that journalism is done in public interest.

Presentation and the extent of coverage are vital aspects in highlighting an issue, he said.

Abbas was of the opinion that the media should have slightly underplayed the issue while giving an example that the image of an unknown man with a huge knife invokes terror.

“If the attacker intends to terrorize then he gets successful in his intention due to the media hype,” said Mazhar Abbas.

Bureau Chief Geo News Karachi Faheem Siddiqui strongly supported highlighting the issue. He said that if the media had not highlighted the issue then the police would not have been beefed up and it would have been downplayed.

On a positive note, even though the attacker has evaded authorities till now, the graph of street crimes has visibly gone down.

Anchor Asma Shirazi said that media coverage is of paramount importance and was of the opinion that the issue has been over sensationalised as Karachi is the hub of ratings.

Another noteworthy point she raised was that words used by media such as ‘Chalawa’ etc are not even used in the dictionary and the visuals created over-hype and exacerbated the issue.


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