by Asad Ur Rehman
How would you feel if one day you woke up normally, got ready to go to office and on the breakfast table while reading newspaper or going through Facebook, Twitter or any other news site you find out your casual walk photograph with your friend, wife, sister or class fellow has been published without your consent for a news story? You will probably feel uneasy because you had no relationship wi th that piece of news and that photograph was taken without your permission and knowledge. The only chance of feeling good about such an incident is that the news is extraordinarily good and raises your social graph.
In another similar-yet contrasting situation, how would you react when you find out that your photograph along with a girl that might be your wife, sister, mother, cousin, class fellow or friend has been used to elaborate a story on prostitution? You probably will burst out with anger but you won’t be able to do anything. Such incidents have become a routine in our media industry. Anyone can take a picture of you with his or her cell phone or camera without your consent and can put it on social media, website or newspaper to defame you without even thinking how ugly such a situation can turn out for other person. Any such instance can ruin the entire life of an individual. Though we daily listen and read such news and have been accustomed to such happenings, the story that tempted me to write this piece is below
Neither the story belongs to me nor I know these people but upon reading it for the very first time on Facebook, I was shocked and disturbed. They probably are passing by some street when someone shot them from his / her camera and used the picture for this story. Their picture has no relevance what so ever with this story. Upon my and others comment on Facebook the post was immediately taken down from The Nation’s Facebook page without any clarification or apology but the editor didn’t bother to take it down from twitter and website. I was unable to understand that how the news got published with such a photograph and there was no one to question it.
Above and many other such stories represent the senseless reporting and media practices that are prevalent in our society. They demand ethics for all mediums of society but are unwilling to apply the same on themselves. There are multiple codes of conducts but unfortunately, like all other things those codes are limited for show off only. The role of regulatory authorities in this regard is also disgusting. Even after so many years, there isn’t any independent and unbiased regulatory authority to control the state of affairs of media houses. All such authorities are being used for victimization only!
The need of the hour is that all media houses (electronic and print) should draft a comprehensive code of conduct and should ensure that none of them violates it whereas government should also setup an independent and unbiased body to check all irregularities. All those found violating should be punished.
I have a few questions to all media personnel:
Who will compensate the loss of the couple in picture?
Should the newspaper take down the post?
Should the newspaper issue an apology to the couple?
What can couple in picture do against the newspaper?
I am sure that all these questions will remain unanswered as we never want to be held accountable.
Asad Ur Rehman can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org