Pakistani media has oft been guilty of indulging in yellow journalism for the sale of extra copies of newspapers. Bizarre headlines, outrageous and out-of-context statements by prominent personalities find their way into front pages of newspapers more often than not. The issue however, has exacerbated with advent of digital media. Ratings are now measured in metrics like ‘Post Reach‘, ‘Page Clicks’ and ‘Likes & Shares on a post’, meaning the dissemination of fake news and false information has become easier, faster and cheaper.
Digital media is still in its infancy in Pakistan as most news outlets’ Facebook pages, Twitter handles and websites are not older than 5-6 years on average. Blaring headlines in red are broken as news outlets run in the rat-race to ‘be the first to bring the news’.
Starting 2017, a FAKE NEWS counter has been set which will be updated every time Pakistani media reports a news event which did not happen.
FAKE NEWS COUNTER = 2 News (so far)
March 7: Death of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah
Former Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was wrongly reported to have died on March 7, 2017. One channel after another broke the fake news to Pakistani audiences. All of them had to later retract their stories but digital records of their errors are still available on their websites.
Pakistan Electronic Media & Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has taken notice against some of the channels for their wrongdoing.
Reporting of this blunder was initially brought to public’s attention by The News.
February 23: Gulberg Blast Hoax
Following a blast from a gas cylinder in DHA Lahore, local media agencies displayed bomb hoax news on channels and social media. No such incident, however, took place. The news of the 2nd blast however, caused mass hysteria and panic among citizens of Lahore as roads started emptying at as early as 1400 hours.
29 news outlets were seen breaking the fake news. Some of the prominent media channels include the following:
Do you know of any other fake news circulated on social media by any reputed news outlet? Write in comments or tweet @hanzla_sajid.
This list is being maintained for events after Feburary 23, 2017.