Fact and Fiction

On Monday of this week, I was surprised and pleased to read in one of Pakistan’s English language newspapers, Dawn, that the mayor of Karachi had been ranked the world’s second-best mayor by Foreign Policy magazine. I was also a little puzzled.

Karachi has made some great strides as a city in the last few years, with the mayor leading some innovative approaches to solving the problems of slums, food shortages, massive electricity outages, and unclean water that often disable Pakistan’s financial capital, in addition to efforts to green-ify the city. But second-best in the world…?

When I went to find the FP article in question, I ran across this blog post:

Yesterday, we started receiving e-mails from readers and journalists in Pakistan asking for comment on reports that we had named Karachi’s mayor, Mustafa Kamal, “the second best mayor in the world.” This would be an understandable query if we had actually said anything of the sort.

Turns out that Dawn, the Associated Press of Pakistan, and other news agencies in the country didn’t read the story completely – it highlighted some of the good works done by the mayors of Berlin, Karachi, and Chongqing, *without* ranking them – and jumped on the report without fact checking.

This is a common problem throughout South Asia. Journalists often don’t understand the need to verify information received via press release before going to print. CIPE is working to reinforce the importance of verification from different sources through its economic and business journalism training programs in Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Read more about CIPE’s approach to increase access to information here.

Interestingly enough, a search of Dawn‘s website does not show a retraction, correction, or change of any kind, although FP reports the press release originally sent out by the city of Karachi has been updated.

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