The other side of the story
Yesterday, I gave the news. Today, I am the news. What a transition. Interestingly, a couple of months back I had written a column about unethical reporting on social media. Little could I imagine that soon I would be its most celebrated victim and that the mainstream media would jump in and join the bandwagon in haste.
What happened in the infamous Malik Riaz interview is now common knowledge and I guess millions have seen the video and commented on it. Millions may have seen it but I have not. That’s right. For the last two weeks or so, I have not seen the television nor read any newspapers out of serious depression. I even stayed away from the social media except for on a few occasions. I do however get frequent reminders by friends and family who tell me what’s on. The best comment that came out was on a facebook page when a young lady from USA commented, “I can’t imagine all those who voted for our corrupt politicians to shout themselves hoarse and point out to a television show in mock horror whence they themselves have voted in the biggest corruption ever….” Maybe it is not a fair comment but it does give me some respite in a jungle of hateful and abusive remarks.
Sadly all those so called sensible journalists that teach us ethics of journalism on television never even once asked for my point of view, or my side of the story. So much for impartiality and fairness.
I did give my own version on the same medium as I felt that I owed it to my children, family and most specially my viewers who have been loyal to me over the years.
They tell me each setback makes you a better man. I am not sure if one wants to be a great man at this cost? Something that disturbs me is how the on-screen and off-screen tapes were edited and combined to give a false impression about what transpired. Obviously, it does not matter now as some have made up their minds, while others may not appreciate the fine difference. Moreover, another thing that baffles me was the barrage of articles and comments praising a thief who stole the footage to upload it on YouTube. I respect the great cause but how in the world can anyone justify theft for any reason whatsoever. So much for our broadsheet ethics. Sadly, I still belong to the school of thought which does not allow me to condone robbers and thieves.
When I uploaded my version on YouTube, I did ask some probing questions of my peers. To date, no one has answered them or taken up my challenge. What some television anchors made out to look like crafted chatter off-the-screen is nothing compared to what actually transpires in their own shows. Any journalist who has spent a few years in the field will vouch for the fact that this is neither out-of-the-ordinary or unethical. Sadly, the biggest scoop of the day was made to look like the greatest scam of the year. Quotes were edited to give false impressions; a harmless phone call was made to appear as dictation by the federal government whilst a detailed text message by someone in the opposition was forgotten as a child’s remark, for that suited them.
What actually transpired that day is a story that I shall definitely tell but before that I must ruefully explain how my children were harassed in shopping centres, my friends laughed at and my viewers made to duck in shame and, for a while, it seemed the entire world would collapse. If it were not for faith in God, my loved ones and my special friends who came in large numbers and provided me with strength and support, I would never have been able to rise above the state I was forced into.
I still believe that the issue was blown unfairly out of proportion and that my own colleagues went around in circles, not being able to decide where to begin. I am not passing on the buck as none of that matters to me now but it left some deep scars to serve as a painful reminder for years to come.
In hindsight, some great things happened. I must confess having been robbed off the status of a solo anchor actually saved me for my co-host of the day and I never got along. Heaven forbid, if I had been alone, I am sure I would have been at ease and comfort and then there would have been no respite for me whatsoever. A harmless joke on the day comes back to haunt me as some took it very seriously.
On the fateful day, nothing went right for me. A small car accident, a ticket on the motorway, losing some neck ties and then boardroom arguments that turned unpleasant and so much more.
However, before I tell my version of the infamous Malik Riaz interview, I just wish to remind those so-called honourable newspapers that published front-page news that I had run away from the country that they were wrong in their reporting: I am still around.
(Part 1 of a series of articles)