Youth and Role of media in Pakistan

23Jun07

A quarter of the world consists of young people between the ages of 10-14 years. Of these 86 percent, live in developing countries.
Pakistan currently has the largest cohort of young people in its history (25 million aged 15-24) and subsequent cohorts are projected to be even larger.
Young people face a number of critical life decisions between the ages of 15-24 that relate to a series of transitions to adulthood.
A recently published national representative survey on adolescents and youth in Pakistan has unveiled many unexplored dimensions of their lives. Briefly speaking, most of the issues related to young people are gender issues.
Empowerment, access to equal rights and emancipation are yet only distant dreams for a vast majority of Pakistanis. However, there are now a number of efforts underway in Pakistan to promote the empowerment of women. Although there is escalating attention by the Pakistan Government to gender issues including violence, and there is some movement in this direction, but there is no palpable, heedful and steadfast attempt geared to the understanding of the relevance of youth and gender based violence. This is valid for all service delivery, advocacy, research and communication interventions. People communicate even without any modern communication media, exchange ideas and alter their behavior. But the astonishing growth of the mass media first print, then radio and now television and computer communication-has raised new possibilities for rapid global communication and thus the new theories about how people may react and change as a result of mass media.
The media, advertising and entertainment industries, collectively known as mass media, are powerful because they penetrate every segment of modern-day society and effectively influence how consumers view themselves, their neighbors, communities and the world. Although the mass media denotes outlets beyond newspapers, radio and television, and the scope of media influence now extends to digital spectrum, cable and satellite technology and the internet, it remains a fact that the TV is the single major and foremost communicator of our times.
Television has changed the way teachers teach, government, religious leaders preach and even the demeanour of madness and love. It has the capacity of saying the unsaid even in a selectively traditional society like Pakistan.
Entertainment has been used for educational purpose since the beginning of human history. Greek tragedies, parables in the holy books, songs and stories in every religion and culture present the conflicts and values of different societies in vivid, dramatic and above all, entertaining terms. Modern mass media carries on this tradition, reaching millions with popular radio and TV shows that entertains and educate simultaneously.
In much of south Asia, TV is the most accessible media form. In Pakistan, the coverage of TV is between 87-90pc. The average Pakistani youth is the most enthusiastic consumer of entertaining TV programmes (not the state controlled Pakistani TV channels). Besides, TV has become the main target for pressure groups and NGO`s concerned with human rights in the media.
Nowadays, the media has emerged as the essential player in granting priority to the issue of any origin. The ruling elite of Pakistan, like elsewhere, are also aware that information is power. Therefore, their prime objective is to keep the illiterate, unemployed and malnourished youth powerless through controlling the state media as well. Their general attitude towards the media is obviously dictating and opposing. The net impact of this desire to control the right to information is that educated individuals are not instructed with development issues and contemporary debates.
Although with new technologies, satellite influx and private sector media, the magnitude of this control has decreased, the general situation in connection with youth programmes on TV is abysmal. Irrespective of all the odds, more and more civic actors are concentrating on advocacy through media. Where a lot of thinking and efforts are noticeable on gender and the gender sensitive portrayal of women in the mainstream media of south Asia, including Pakistan, it seems that the status of the youth have been ignored. This ignorance becomes even more obvious when one explores the degree of attention given to an issue like violence in context of gender and youth by the media, including television. It is needless to point out how predominant the theme of violence is on TV and films, and how propitiously the same media is selling violence to youth.

CHALLENGES OF MEDIA IN GROWTH OF YOUTH

Pakistan, like all other developing countries entrapped in debt, dictation and democracy crises, has no dearth of problems. Our country is characterized by patriarchy and its implications. Illiteracy of the teeming millions just accelerates the vicious circle of problems. In the current situation, our country not only needs political stability, gender responsive governance and strong economic growth, but a socially responsible media equipped with the ability to meet the challenges of our new world.
Global experiences have validated that preventing problems during adolescence is more practical, resource efficient and cost-effective rather that addressing problems once they occur. Programmers/projects that work with adolescents and young people benefit everyone.
It is the time to invest in young people and in their futures. And it is the time to live up to the commitments to young people the countries of the world have repeatedly made in international agreements.

Communication programmers play an essential role in educating, understanding, informing and motivating young people. Since young people are the passionate consumers of popular culture and entertainment, therefore entertainment through TV is an ideal channel to reach the youth.
Regrettably, television in Pakistan has failed to provide the brand of entertainment that would address the contemporary needs of Pakistani youth. With the dawn of new channels in the private sector and a softened censor policy even for the state-owned and controlled PTV (as compared to Ziaul Haq`s regime) one finds breaking visual communication, but the commitment of all TV channels towards youth and sensitive gender issues is questionable. What Pakistani TV is communicating today can be summed up as mindless adoption and confused interpretation of globalization. As a result, young people are highly informed about fashion models, silver screen celebrities and other things which seldom have any relevance and usefulness in their practical lives. What is remarkably missing form our TV screens is the common youth , the rural youth, the unemployed youth, the uneducated youth ( do I need to recall that 40pc of our 144 million live below the poverty line below the poverty line drawn by the world bank and 70pc is the rural population). If there is any representation of this kind of youth or people in general on TV, it is done in a decidedly tedious technique.
CURRENT SITUATION OF MEDIA ROLE IN LARKANA

The Larkana District existing in Southern part of Sindh have 2.1 million population (Old District larkana including the all talukas of newly kamber-Shahdad koat District).
Health and Education Society larkana has identified 63 high schools in Government sector in district through its Survey .There is no profound survey/ research of media impact among youth of District larkana and what are the mode of penetration of altering youth behavior in this area.
The city and talukas head quarters and some towns are now encircled by cable net work system influencing the family as well group behavior while remote areas are communicated by Radio as well PTV electronic media and DVD/News system thus impacting the other knowledge system on the youth .
Since a couple of decades print media mainly Sindhi print media has replaced the other languages of print media including Urdu due to many reasons including low cast, sindhi language and net work of availability in far flung areas.
Unfortunately the youth developmental issues are not the key information of many media resources so the youth progress is not satisfactory and youth behavior is influence by violence , global media prejudices and porn and other negative values.
Maladaptive ,Drug abuse and violence in media and local tribal conflicts reports pattern also are impacting the youth.
There is need to access such negative impacts and to promote the positive impact of media by guiding and advocating the thematic values in media .

Zulifqar Ali Rahujo
Larkana



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