The news from Pakistan continues to flood in, underscoring Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and the ‘taliban’s’ proximity to Islamabad. I find myself asking where were these questions inLink 2007, when the Lal Masjid siege took place in the center of Islamabad? Musharraf was in power then, well-supported by Dubya. Of course, it’s important to report the growing power of extremists in northern Pakistan. The situation is increasingly scary, but as always, it’s better to go to news sources that are closer to the areas of conflict.
Yesterday, I was surprised to hear Free Speech Radio Network’s headline news using the sensationalist language of “Muslim state” and “nuclear arsenal.” And then, over the last few days, I’ve seen CNN report news on Pakistan with repeat rolls of film, and the images (surprise) include: beards, burqas and namaaz. If people want to see television news from Pakistan, they can go to Dawn (in English), Geo, or Aaj, or the many other channels that are broadcasting directly from Pakistan. And of course, there are many English print publications: The News, Newsline, Dawn and others.
In the meantime, in the States, newsprint reporting sources are struggling to survive. The other day a friend from the Houston Chronicle dropped by the VBB office and shared relief that she still had a job. But we also grieved the hundreds of Chronicle lay-offs that have taken place over the last year, including senior writers and editors such as Barbara Karkabi and Fritz Lanham.
My friend shared her perspective that Hearst Corporation is using the national economic fear to cut down its costs and centralize its offices. “The Chronicle wasn’t running at a loss-not until January,” she told me. “But the layoffs were announced even before the losses were known.” Sad to think that a city of 5 million people has just one limping paper.