It can be a real challenge for TV channels to cover a much-reported story from a different angle. Such was the dilemma with Tahir ul Qadri’s (TUQ) long march in Islamabad, where the self-styled Sheikh ul Islam held forth thousands of people and attempted to pressurize the incumbent government into meeting his ever-changing vague demands.
On January 17, 2013, some producer in Samaa TV must have had a brain wave when he/she came up with the idea of doing a news report on the usefulness of wearing jeans during the long march. Kudos to the producer because the result was five minutes worth of light broadcast journalism. Had it been done with finesse and humour, the report would be akin to the ones done by CNN’s national news correspondent Jeanne Moos, a pioneer in quirky news reporting that have ranged from three-legged pantyhose to two-headed turtles to unusual X-rays to bizarre Christmas tree displays. She files her reports for CNN titled “Moost Unusual” and she is considered to be a national institution.
The Samaa report on Jeans and TUQ’s long march focused on the fact that by wearing jeans the protestors were able to move about freely, could run easily should violence breaks out and was also rain-proof considering that Islamabad was receiving heavy downpour of rain. The report had two Voice Pox and centered only on women and young girls. However, the reporter did it with such earnestness that one ended up laughing at the reporter, rather than laughing with, when I am sure that was probably never the intention of the channel.