The history of organized press did not go beyond two centuries ago. While book writing had been an old trend, news gathering and dissemination were not. Yes, there had been an era of bulletin in the Roman time but a practice whereby some individuals who organize themselves into a news gathering and dissemination firm was not more than two centuries ago, that is our circumlocution.
The societies of the past had been calm and quiet; the people had always been very loyal to the government of the time. It was not until Thomas Hobbes’ social contract hue where a state was said to have evolved from a chaotic situation (bellum omnium contra omnes), that things began to go awry. The problem of the monarchies before then had been regicides; Hobbesian state of nature gave way to popular revolts and insurrections the kind that led to the celebrated French Revolution and the eventual American Independence in 1776 from the Great Britain.
The press became an organized entity in America some decades after its Independence. Being a state being run by people with diverse views, America became a hub of inter-change of crazy ideas and thoughts. The press was one of those things that fuelled the craziness. Freedom of speech and ideas was an idea that became a norm in America.
Since the epoch of Yellow Journalism (in Pulitzer vs. Hearts era) in America, the entire world press had become tilted towards the ways of the Americans – the radicals that left several countries of the Europe to fight for a state where all sorts of despondence would reign.
The job of a journalist is a difficult one; we don’t know how a Muslim will fare as a journalist in this kind of society. A journalist must have a nose for news! Apart from the fact that journalists poke into people’s privacies, they also help fuel discord in the society in the name of selling their papers.
One of what the press does is to set an agenda of discussions for the people every day and every point in time.
Just check it; the bulk of what the people discuss in their daily lives is what the press feed them with. People who don’t follow press reports discuss less of mundane affairs in their daily lives, and otherwise. The press will claim that it is disseminating useful information to the society while it selectively tells the people what to discuss. The press will claim it is being objective in its reports while it is glaring that what they tell the people are often slanted reports. One will wonder how a press outfit owned by a particular politician will be antagonistic to its publisher [the owner of a press outfit is so called]. The question therefore is how just will all these newspapers owned by one politician or the other in reports they carry?
Nigeria is an example of where the bad press (even though good press is hard to find anywhere in the world) is being celebrated.
Among the most mis-informed people in the world are the Nigerians. The press misinforms them massively while the people look on.
It is therefore saddening when one sees Muslims fretting over an agenda set for them by the press such that they often feel like ending it with a fight. The events in the recent past in the country can justify this. We will not help the ‘agenda theory,’ we would have cited examples.
Being informed has become important in our modern society today, even though there is no crime in not being ‘current’ of happenings around one. One should however not be an addict of ‘wanting to know what is happening.’ If a Muslim is current with the Qur’aan and Sunnah, the better.
Therefore it is time Muslims refrained from being set against one another by the wretched press. They should treat political happenings around them as common things; they should not fret over them or despair. When they hear bad news, they should seek succor from Allaah and rely on their Lord. They should know that the ‘press men’ are among the greatest liars (except the pious ones among them) in the world. They don’t sell good news (they are taught that when a dog bites a man that is no news but when a man bites a dog that is news). They are rumor mongers, trouble makers and most careless of the people.
وَلا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولا
And follow not (O man i.e., say not, or do not or witness not, etc.) that of which you have no knowledge (e.g. one's saying: "I have seen," while in fact He has not seen, or "I have heard," while he has not heard). Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned (by Allâh). [Israa: 36]
اجْتَنِبُوا كَثِيرًا مِنَ الظَّنِّ إِنَّ بَعْضَ الظَّنِّ إِثْمٌ
O You who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. [al-Hujuraat: 2]
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