I had written earlier about PTI’s presence on twitter in a bid to explain why PTI tops the charts when it comes to campaigning online. In his recent piece, Zarrar Khuhro, Express Tribune Magazine editor explains the reason why there is vilification campaign against PTI and Imran Khan in both TV and print media. It is indeed a very balanced take on what is media trying to do; tapping to huge PTI and/or pro-Imran Khan audience out there. But then again Express Tribune, a part of International Herald Tribune owned by New York Times conglomerate, ought to have balanced editorials like its NYT itself. The problem lies when it comes to the content and headlines they churn out about the same topic and same cadre of writers Khuhro is criticizing here. Express Tribune itself carries the most twisted headlines, distorted facts and sheer number of columns and blogs that just spin around the word PTI proves the very publication, Khuhro is part of, is guilty of toeing the same line.
I remember a particular incident from this summer while traveling from Prague to Paris, I picked International Herald Tribune from airport and was skimming through the headlines that I realized that every news item about every country except the US was negative. I counted at least 15 such items in the first 3 pages and vividly remember Pakistan, Turkey, Sudan and Spain. The date was 6 August. The point I am trying to make here is that no matter how balanced their editorials may look and sound, these publications always pain a different picture (mostly negative) on the same topic. In International Herald Tribune and Express Tribune’s case, it serves their purpose to portray certain elements in negative light to meet their greater goals and Khuhro and likes inevitably and unintentionally are part of it all.
Coming back to PTI and social media campaigning
I remember a couple of years back during the winter of 2010-2011, PTI’s social media campaigning was limited to recording PTI leadership’s appearance on daily political talk shows and posting on their website Insaf.pk and facebook pages. This tilted the scale in their favor as people started following PTI was saying, although PTI’s presence on TV was on a very scale comparing to other political entities. This gave birth to many spin-off websites Zemtv.com, Siasat.pk, ZahiKorner.com and PKpolitics.com that post only political talk shows and earn revenue from advertisement. There is one interesting aspect to this phenomenon that Zemtv.com and Siasat.pk with their pro-PTI outlook and speed at which they can post a program as soon as it is over has squeezed all the traffic out of more established for years PKpolitics.com (a website rumored to be backed by PTI’s rival party PMLN). Zemtv.com attracts hundreds of commentators on Imran Khan’s appearances within a couple of hours while the other party’s appearances go unnoticed.
Now, there are many loosely bonded activists groups on facebook, twitter and other forums which have taken upon themselves the task to defend PTI and its agenda. There have always been political parties’ supporters, but not organized political activists groups that have made their presence felt to the effect that some media personnel get irritated after getting thrashed for their anti-PTI rhetoric. PTI as it seems has discovered what it takes to successfully campaign online.
- Social media’s impact on Pakistani politics and political twitterati (rugpundits.com)
- Imran believes PTI to sweep next polls (nation.com.pk)
- Can social media propel Imran Khan to power? (worldnews.nbcnews.com)