When journo bites journo, it’s a ‘Super Exclusive’

20 May 2010

Journalism is somewhat pompously described by its practitioners as a dog-eat-dog business. In reality, dog never eats dog; it just comes close to smelling its backside.

At least in India, where media tigers are ever so ready to reveal the ugly innards of government, bureaucracy, police, cinema, business, sport, etc, but not rival media tigers.

Take the recent case of you-know-who!

On the other hand, take the case of Hamid Mir, the hotshot executive editor of the Pakistani television station, Geo (of the Jang group), whose reported 13-minute conversation with a Taliban spokesman on a hostage being held by them was revealed by the rival Daily Times with unreserved glee.

In the conversation, Mir describes the hostage as a CIA collaborator, questions his Islamic credentials, and accuses him of playing a treacherous role in the 2007 Red Mosque siege in which over 100 people were killed. After Mir delays the hostage’s release, the bullet-marked body of the hostage is found on a roadside with a warning note to other “American spies”.”

In other words, Pakistan’s most famous anchor stands instigated the murder of a kidnapee.

There are plenty of question marks of course, starting with the timing and motive of the leak.

Hamid Mir has questioned the authenticity of the transcript, sued the paper, charged his country’s president of trying to defame him, claimed it’s an attempt to muzzle the media, and so on and so forth. His paper has instituted a probe, while the Taliban has given him a clean chit.

Still, the chutzpah of the Pakistani media, operating under the shadow of the gun, should leave its mighty subcontinental democratic counterparts, i.e. us, wondering.

Read the full transcript here: Daily Times

Photograph: Hamid Mir (left) with Al Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden, whom he has met three times

P. Sainath: ‘A media politically free, but chained by profit’

The Dawn editorial: Hamid Mir saga

International Press Institute Blog

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