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The Emergence of Social Media & the Political Crisis in Pakistan
Unformatted Document Text:  Social media & political crisis in Pakistan 11 The emergence of the Internet in Pakistan has strengthened the watchdog role of journalists there. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the ban on traditional media could not help the military government in November 2007 to fully control the flow of information because of the Internet. In the absence of traditional media, journalists were still able to keep the citizens updated about the anti-government protests and rallies in different parts of the country by using YouTube and other social networking sites (personal observation). That use suggests that journalists were able to engage the people politically via social networking sites during the 2007 political crisis in Pakistan (Dewey, 1954; Putnam, 2001, c2000). This study probes further into the nature of that engagement. Though a normative approach does not treat the Internet and others equally, it does propose that new media has a tendency to share some of the same tasks and can accommodate mass media functions in certain situations (Christians et al., 2009, p. 236; Jenkins, 2006). Normative theory implies that the digital age did not change the radical traditions but has provided a new platform for “traditional political struggles” (Christians et al., 2009, p. 188). The preceding debate leads us to explore the role of Pakistani journalists in the context of new media, and whether new media are providing an alternate avenue to keep the public politically engaged in the absence of traditional sources of news. The following research questions will be addressed: RQ1: How did Pakistani journalists use YouTube to fulfill their social role during the political crisis in Pakistan when the military government had banned the transmission of all private television channels in November 2007?

Authors: Arif, Rauf.
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Social media & political crisis in Pakistan 11
The   emergence   of   the   Internet   in   Pakistan   has   strengthened   the   watchdog   role   of 
journalists there. For the first time in Pakistan’s history, the ban on traditional media could not 
help the military government in November 2007 to fully control the flow of information because 
of the Internet. In the absence of traditional media, journalists were still able to keep the citizens 
updated about the anti-government protests and rallies in different parts of the country by using 
YouTube   and   other   social   networking   sites   (personal   observation).   That   use   suggests   that 
journalists were able to engage the people politically via social networking sites during the 2007 
political crisis in Pakistan (Dewey, 1954; Putnam, 2001, c2000). This study probes further into 
the nature of that engagement.
Though a normative  approach does not treat  the Internet  and others equally,  it does 
propose that new media has a tendency to share some of the same tasks and can accommodate 
mass   media   functions   in   certain   situations   (Christians   et   al.,   2009,   p.   236;   Jenkins,   2006). 
Normative   theory   implies   that   the   digital   age   did   not   change   the   radical   traditions   but   has 
provided a new platform for “traditional political struggles” (Christians et al., 2009, p. 188).  
The preceding debate leads us to explore the role of Pakistani journalists in the context of 
new   media,   and   whether   new   media   are   providing   an   alternate   avenue   to   keep   the   public 
politically   engaged   in   the   absence   of   traditional   sources   of   news.   The   following   research 
questions will be addressed: 
RQ1: How did Pakistani journalists use YouTube to fulfill their social role during the political 
crisis   in  Pakistan  when  the   military   government  had  banned   the  transmission   of  all   private 
television channels in November 2007?


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