Reporting on terrorism and militancy is endless work in journalism these days, particularly in countries like Pakistan. And when you look at the standard of reporting, you likely get more terrified than you would after a major blast.
Take this latest report from Express Tribune as an example. The tell-tale title “Aerial search operation in Orakzai Agency leaves five suspected militants dead” starts creating questions in readers’ mind – was it aerial search (surveillance) or a raid? The story that follows shows that it was an attack with gunship helicopters instead of aerial search – or at least there is no bit of detail about the searching part: what was being searched, where, and who was searching?
The questions literally replace any information in the post since there is no information – only claims that are difficult to verify. The post doesn’t name the actual source of information, only “according to security personnel” – meaning any of the thousands of military/intelligence workers of the government.
Then come the five victims – no names or any bit of identity mentioned that would leave a trail to possible verification. Just a claim that 5 people died.
Then, no mention of what or whom these alleged militants worked for – all you read is “a banned outfit”. Okay, which one? No information or statement from that outfit, whatever its name. Left to your imagination.
In effect, this post in question is a modern-day fairytale where some unidentified heroes were searching for some important but unknown thing in a particular area (which is the only known/named thing in the whole story) and killed five unidentifiable alleged militants. For all practical purposes, such a report can be prepared in-house in no more than 20 minutes, and nobody can verify anything.
What do these stories tell about media, besides their crappy reporting? These tell nothing because they are so poor in content and details that they are unable to tell anything except that the standards of reporting are scary and potentially lethal to already impoverished minds.