In Pakistan today, there is much conflict surrounding negotiations taking place between the Taliban and the Pakistani government. There has been violence and many deaths surrounding these events, and news companies across the world have been publishing different accounts of what the situation is in Pakistan. All of the following are companies that broadcast in England as well as the United States, and have given their accounts of the recent events in Pakistan.
A British news company with an office based out of New York, hosting a website called “The Guardian,” also has published numerous articles concerning the recent turmoil in Pakistan. One article, written on the 20th of February, contains only one sentence;
“Pakistan launches air strikes on Taliban”
“Attacks said to have killed 15 comes after peace talks faltered and Taliban announced it had executed 23 Pakistani soldiers” -Reuters, Feb. 20, 2014
This short synapsis is said to be based off a Reuters: UK article also published on the 20th, which, although provides much more insight into the background of the conflict, still provides a less-than-formal account of the incident, referring to the Prime Minister as the “PM of Pakistan” in the title, “Pakistani PM approves air strikes on militant hideouts.”
“After restraining the army for three days, the prime minister himself authorised the strikes last night ‘It was the only option to teach the Taliban a lesson’…[But] talks broke down this week when a Taliban wing operating in the Mohmand Pashtun tribal region said it had executed 23 soldiers in revenge for the killing of their fighters by the security forces.” MEHREEN ZAHRA-MALIK AND SAUD MEHSUD: Thu Feb 20, 2014
Popular news source USA Today offered a different perspective on the matter, not writing about this specific issue on first of March, when a positive development came to light. The article “Pakistani Taliban announces 1-month cease-fire” focuses on the negotiations and the possibility for peace rather than the execution, only briefly mentioning that “negotiations broke down when a militant faction announced it had killed 23 Pakistani troops” USA Today, March 1. The following photo headed the article.
“Supporters of Pakistani religious group Sunni Tehreek rally demanding army operations against the Taliban on Feb. 28. The Pakistani Taliban announced a 1-month cease-fire”March 1.(Photo: K.M. Chaudary AP)
“The Guardian” and “Reuters: UK” had no other articles on this issue, even after the cease-fire and negotiations.
Another Popular news source, BBC News, also used photos to depict the peace talks in a radically different light, showing the Chief Government negotiator enjoying conversation with one of the Taliban negotiation team:
“Both sides condemned recent violence.
The chief negotiator for the government side, Irfan Siddiqui, said: “Today, we started the journey for peace, and both sides have agreed to complete it as soon as possible.”
The window of time in which these articles were published is moderately widespread, ranging from mid February to the beginning March, and showing very different ideas of the status of talks in Taliban. However, the BBC News article was published within days of articles by “The Guardian” and Reuters UK, and it shows the negotiations as a possible success, with high hopes for a peaceful outcome. This is radically different than the mentions of violence, death, and likely hood of even more violence seen in the article “Pakistani PM approves air strikes on militant hideouts.”
Why are these supposedly unbiased news sources giving out seemingly biased information? This lies in the information about the news sources themselves.
In 2010, The Guardian released multiple articles showing support for the liberal-democratic community. They released “General election 2010: The liberal moment has come” and “The Guardian’s election editorial meeting: report” on April 23rd and April 30th. Beyond the clearly liberal-stance articles, The Guardian has even self-proclaimed itself as “for a middle-class, democratic community” leaving no doubt as to their stance on political issues.
As for BBC News, their focus seems to be in their averaged £5,102.3 million yearly income. Of this amount last year, £3,656.2 million of it was revenue from household television licensing fees, from their news broadcasts as well as other televised series (BBC Annual Report and Accounts 2012/13. BBC. 2013. p. 24). According to the same report, the next biggest source of income was £1,101.2 million from the BBC’s Commercial Businesses. This marks BBC News as an income-based news source, producing a product of which they can profit from.
An even deeper issue lies within the Reuter News Agency, headquartered in London. In 2008 and 2010, this agency was accused as being “anti-israeli” and “painting the middle east in poor light” (“Reuters admits altering Beirut photo” Ynetnews, June 2008). They are accused of removing certain images and altering photos to change the appearance of the situation (Mozgovaya, Natasha: “Reuters under fire for removing weapons, blood from images of Gaza flotilla”. Haaretz. June 2010). No doubt a serious offence, Reuters actually falsified information in past articles, leaving their opinion of these middle-eastern companies in question.
USA Today is ranked third nation wide for most weekday circulation, under The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. No doubt one of the most popular sources for world news, there is much debate concerning a “political-slant” in USA Today reporting. These debates, taking place across the internet, give differing opinions on their place in the political spectrum. One ask forum titled “ask metafilter” labeled USA Today as “bleeding red” and full of “conservative Obama-bashing” (“Is USA Today Left, Right, or Center?” April 13, 2010). In a totally different light, Dr. Richard Benkin, a human rights activist, posted a lengthy article on Canadian Free Press titled “Just What We Need: More Bias from USA Today” also in 2010, painting them as an incredibly liberal company. These many differing opinions leave USA Today’s place in the news world unclear, but evidence does not suggest a specific bias toward foreign news coverage.
The backgrounds of these companies really speak to why they presented the information they did and the information they did not concerning the issues in Pakistan. In the end, all of these news sources seem to have a bias toward money, power, or getting their political view popularized. Although the statistical information remains sound in all four articles, the way in which it was presented showed the Pakistani conflict in completely different ways: giving the consumers of these companies different and sometimes completely contrasting ideas of what really is happening in Pakistan.