Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Carrots and sticks and the media

Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, a civilian defence analyst and a shrewd political observer, writes in the News: "General Zia’s days were bleak; the present system is smarter. But the essence has not changed."


"The strategic management of the media is about using it to create an image that benefits the regime. The rulers understand that co-option and carefully monitored freedom can prove a more effective tool than uncouth coercion."

"Most of the print media groups have learnt the art of strategic silence and acquire the benefits of being cautious. Therefore, while some members of the media will keep their silence and engage in selective reporting and commentary because they believe it is in the national interest to do so, others might become careful because there are material benefits in toeing the official line. The construction of housing schemes for journalists and other important communities such as the judiciary or the civil bureaucracy is another such method."

"Surely, the method of negative coercion has not entirely been abandoned. The disappearance of over 40 journalists reporting from areas of critical importance to the military or the fact that journalists are randomly picked up and released indicates that the art of coercion has been fine-tuned. The statements of the information minister highlighting the government’s zero tolerance towards those that are critical of the armed forces further underscores the aforementioned policy."

No comments: