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The coverage of Pak crisis by The Times and the Independent.

Introduction: News as a construct

John Hartley while expatiating on news discourse in his famous treatise Understanding News comments that 'news comes to us as the pre-existing discourse of an impersonal social institution which is also an industry.' (Hartley J. p.5) Hartley's observation defines the nature of news in the present day and reiterates the fact that news is no more a piece of information that transform society and the world, but a commodity that is sold in markets just like any other consumer product. The pre-existing discourse in which it reaches us explains the politics of the news and the power behind that shapes its course. Thus, it could be observed that news is a construct in many respects. James Watson rightly comments '...we are seeing, then that the news is culturally positioned, and we view reality through a cultural prism. That the rendition of reality is so convincing is partly explained because the news, framed for us by the media, is usually all that we have to go on as a portrait of realities beyond our own environment; and partly because the news is constructed with such professional skill.' (Watson J. p.122)

The constructed reality or the mediated reality has become so powerful in our lives that we have lost the power even to think and make a rational decision; the media has started thinking for us. Reporting -whether it is about an international news event or a local incident- then acquires a strategic importance. A single word carefully used in a sensitive context can transform the entire notion of person. As Hartley puts it, '...when we learn to speak, we learn much more than words. From the very beginning we use language not just to name things, but, more importantly, to work out how to behave towards other people and the world 'out there''.(Hartley J. p.1)

It is true that Independent showed a greater objectivity with careful use of words and minimal photographs which were just enough to give Benazir's assassination an international importance.


John Hartley gives a tribute to Roland Barthes' observation in his seminal study of news. To quote Hartley ' Roland Barthes makes a distinction between two kinds of pleasure available from reading texts: plasir and jouissance. Plasir is contentment, but jouissance describes a more explosive kind of joy. Texts which get near to producing jouissance are not usually associated with news'. Independent understands the sense of plasir more than The Times; its what the news stories tell.

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