Maya Khan’s Confession

Today, Maya Khan broke her silence.

And much as I want to do away with even the unpleasant memories of that whole saga, a follow-up seemed in order, saying, “Maya, it’s still not ok.”

For those of you who missed it (as the said show’s timings coincided with the repeat of the Red Carpet event of the Oscars), Maya Khan was on Express News TV’s show “Frontline” hosted by Kamran Shahid. A weepy, washed out Maya vehemently protected her stance. She alleged that all the people she raided in the park were “paid actors” and that the entire episode was scripted. And that it was done in good faith to highlight a growing social evil. And to support her “facts”, she had some of those paid actors on the show with her.

Frankly, this is even more worrisome! I would totally be ok with it if that show had disclaimers saying “re-enactments” or “professional actors are playing the part”. But to sell this as reality was an act of deceiving the viewership, and yet again proved that it was not just Maya at fault, but the entire crew of the show and the tv channel as well.

What this has done is horrendous! I and anyone watching this show will not know whom and what to believe in the media any more. A friend skeptically said that maybe the channel on which this rebuttal was aired is now hiring Maya and so wants to clear her name before that. Other theories are also surfacing.

Personally, I don’t know what to believe . And I wish I could say I don’t care, but I do. Bluffing with the audience is against the basic most ethic of media reporting – honesty. If disillusionment permanently creeps in, the audiences will be cynical even about the truth. That will be a permanent collateral damage.

This nasty cut-throat game of competing for ratings is a whirlpool. Maya Khan was unfortunate that she took so much heat for it. Other anchors, hosts and channels do similar things. Maya’s case was a classic example of what needs to be remembered – do not underestimate your viewership! They have a brain, and know the difference between right and wrong, and can take the media to task.

But the silver lining, I believe, is that through this example of Maya, the other shows will in the future be very scared of over-stepping certain boundaries.

As for what Maya did, whether was scripted or not, was simply wrong. But what was equally wrong was people in a reactionary state of mind plastering pictures of Maya Khan’s personal life all over the internet, and indulging in character assassination and mud-slinging, thus repeating more or less the same mistake she committed, albeit in a different way – of encroaching another person’s privacy which needs to be treated with sanctity. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Pakistan’s media has gotten too much freedom way too soon – from a press in chains to a press with no brakes and just an accelerator paddle! This, and similar incidences, are classic examples of the fact that we are unable to contain ourselves in the given freedom. In Maya’s incidence, there are great lessons for all of us who claim to be media persons. That we need to be both more cautious and conscientious when it comes to making decisions on what to share with the public, and what not, and how. If we don’t do that, this will backfire against us, as it did in Maya’s case.

First published on Chaaidaani on 27 February, 2012. Click here to view the original post.

About the author: Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam is a freelance writer, blogger, columnist and activist who feels passionately about human rights, health and social issues. Her interests include Islamic education and the study of religion. Farahnaz is a wannabe photographer, enjoys chaai, traveling, reading, friends and motherhood.