If Tendulkar ran CNN : The State of Media in Pakistan (Cliff notes version)

I profess, I know nothing about Cricket and I am sure Tendulkar will say the same about running an enterprise, for arguments sake CNN. There is a crisis of professional leadership within the realms of Media enterprises in Pakistan. It is any thing but professional and not aligned with strategic growth objectives of the people employed within.

When Genworth Financial broke off from GE, their Ad Campaigns spoke about heritage and legacy. Its worth a watch.

Where is the heritage in our media industries lineage; where the entry point and dominant factor in starting up, is not really being a startup it is actually the anti thesis of a startup. The lineage is that of running mills, being in the tobacco and ghee trade along with being gold smiths (not to be confused with Imran Khans, children’s Gold Smith lineage). Nowhere else in the world can I draw parallels to this sort of lineage in this sector. Alas I digress.

Lineage does matter, because if you come from the “trades” you treat your people like you would treat blue collared individuals. It is a departure from how you would treat white collar and professional managers. The death of this industry will be due to the slow paced nature of the people at the helm and the unrelenting desire to not change and professionalize the culture and the setup of the industry. With the reach that Media now has in Pakistan, if some one tactfully connected the dots, between digital, social , print and electronic- clearly their dominance would be felt further than the shores of Pakistan alone.

This industry is not concerned with building talent, where the old guard is dominant (refer to earlier article on the Old Guard) and where the pursuit of profits comes before the pursuit of professionalism and in many ways ethics, accountability and commitment to the work force employed within.

Nothing has changed since these Media groups propped up and nothing is destined to change unless the people who work here demand their rights and the audiences they cater to also hold the enterprises accountable.

It’s a classic problem “don’t fix what is not broken”, from the Media enterprise owners perspective, their “boss” is the “audience” the audience has an unrelenting thirst for consuming “marginal” to “sub-par” content.

You guessed it, these Media outfits specialize in churning that stuff out, hence when their ad-revenues don’t take a hit, they continue with the way they build their organizations and how they scale, with 0 regard for professionalism and sustained growth for the pillars who run the business. The 100s, if not thousands of people employed in the profession are marginalized every day. They fear that today they are employed and thanks to the post Musharraf era where these Media enterprises grew out off , they are happy to be employed. Given the balance of power being in-equal, these employees are left with no option but to work in a grossly non professional, dis organized environment.

The opportunity is ripe for the taking, for a singular or multiple individuals who can change this balance of power, who focus on building consummate business professionals and re distribute the wealth generated from the media ecosystem. All we need is a true, disruptive startup with access to capital that by virtue of its treatment of its employees and holistic content can capture the hearts and minds of the audiences.

The barriers to cost based entry may be high, but barrier to distribution and access is minimal if done right. Hopefully some true, smart entrepreneur sees the opportunity and sizes it. It would impact the lives of thousands of people who for once are in dire need of that change. Perhaps some one from within the industry also sees the need of the hour and takes a leap of faith and starts to believe in Karma.

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