Open sesame. Command and happen. Say and believe. The said word is ultimate. The raising of a finger or an eyebrow is enough. We are not talking of kings and queens. We are talking about the common themes that are formed repeatedly in various forms of communication to impact the thinking of people. Malcolm X said, “Media’s the most powerful entity on the earth. It has the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent because they control the minds of the masses.” That is why media has been such an important part of any strategy in any sphere of life. From the ancient way of a local trumpeter beating a drum to make an announcement from community to community, to the modern modes where a video goes viral in every community in seconds, communication is the controlling lever. Media from time immemorial has been the sought-after platform for using, controlling and dominating the minds of people. The world has shifted to new forms of media a long time ago. In Pakistan, this shift has been partial and gradual. The media industry is almost medieval in its thought process and has shown resistance and laziness towards embracing new forms. This has led to a big gap between the people and the industry. The traditional forms of media including TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor etc are still known as the mainstream media. The media industry is still focusing on them while using social media as an alternative media. That is why you see TV viewership going down, newspaper reading dwindling and the media industry struggling to bear its cost. The digital world is a whole new dynamic world where media behaviour has radically changed. This change has not been understood and used by media owners to adjust their business models. The reasons are: Media Ownership and mission- With the state’s control over media till the 90s, PTV was and is, just a staid state low-level propaganda machine. Strangely, it was a dictator who liberalised the media industry. It was only when Musharraf let private channels come into the industry that news became more balanced. Indus vision and ARY came into being in 2000 and GEO in 2002, followed by many others. However, the intent of dictators and democrats was similar. Musharraf used this liberalisation of media to market himself globally as a champion of “enlightened moderation” and the democratic governments have used and abused channels to say and show content at their beck and call. The democratic governments used the channels through Ad spending to customise the news content to their liking. Most of the big channels are part of the media mogul phenomenon, where owners are also running newspaper businesses, which is not the norm in democratic countries. Many owners have corporate empires and use these channels to deter and exercise clout on policymakers in the government to benefit their industrial empires. These media houses are Seth-run luxuries where the professional structure is replaced by one-man shows and a huge array of workers at the bottom who are paid pittance and are almost in enslaved bondage. As the older generation shifts to entertainment and the younger generation to smartphones, private Ad spending has become thinner and thinner. Government control and dependence- The media channels have an unprofessional working environment and are just focusing on the “me too” strategy. Their ability to attract viewership is limited due to a lack of innovation and dynamism. The talk show format followed by all of them is two-decades-old. As the older generation shifts to entertainment and the younger generation to smartphones, private Ad spending has become thinner and thinner. This has made the channels more and more dependent on government Ad spending. The government, knowing this dependence, manipulates these channels to show what they want to show. This strategy worked till traditional media was the major form of communication and narrative dissemination. As the digital revolution came, the viewer started to shun traditional channels. This has made the major channels desperate for money share and, thus, more in control of the government and the establishment. However, their narrative is now being verified and questioned by the masses. The traditional media was one way, and the digital media was in two ways. People ask, receive, comment, accept and reject in a click. This has made the traditional media almost irrelevant. A fact that the media houses are realising but are not ready to change is due to their inability to innovate and adapt. They are entrapped by government money, pressure and their own vested and misinvested interests. Media Credibility and Perception- For two decades media channels gave rise to talk show celebrity anchors. They would have huge viewership and their word would make or break news and personalities. This gave them enormous power and money. Their word was almost unopposed but most opposition did not have an alternative platform to raise an equal voice. Social media changed it all. Firstly the tell-and-believe model of the big anchors became a liability. The ask, comment and retell model of the social media public became more engaging, interesting and most important exposing- exposing the anchors’ knowledge limitations, exposing their bias, and exposing their agenda. Take the inflation factor. It is a raging issue in current affairs. In the previous government, even a one per cent rise would be blasted for programs on end. Anchors would go hoarse on screaming about it. Now when the hike is exponential these very anchors are quiet. The consumers themselves have made tables of the number of tweets when the hike was minimal in the earlier government compared to hardly any tweets now. This has crashed the credibility and viewership of these anchors. Also, the blatant trend of writing, speaking and tweeting against the ex-government and in return winning over a ministry or position has put paid to any objections of being called “sold journalists”. The editor/anchor/writer of the main English daily after continuous criticism of PTI was awarded a cabinet seat. Another one doing the same has been given the PCB chairmanship. Another Urdu columnist was given a senator seat. Another became an advisor and so on. These facts are now being tweeted thousands of times by the public. The public produces content, places it on Youtube, Tiktok etc and it becomes so viral that no mainstream media can match it. The government can shut the non-abiding channels but not the thousands of public content producers on millions of chat groups. This is the democratisation of voice as never before. Chat, connect and change- The new generation of Tiktokers is going to tickle and talk fearlessly and relentlessly. They create their channels and put their opinions across fiercely. The social media battlegrounds are huge influencers as they lead the mainstream media in defining trends and hashtags. It is not just a two-way but a multiple-way forum where they discuss, debate, respond, and refute to the point of becoming a proper pressure point. This has taken the monopoly of the mainstream media out of the control of the controllers. This has disseminated the narrative building to the public. In the last nine months, the biggest deterrent to the absolute control of the media houses and stalwart anchors is this daily voice pouring out from alternative media forums. The word Media mogul had a kingdom-like connotation. The simile brought to mind control levers like the Kings in the Mughal empire used to exercise. They would simply set the narrative, clap their hands and make the public believe their story. These thrones have been overthrown by the millions of story busters sitting in their homes clicking away vigorously. We have seen ordinary anchors who have been banned from the mainstream media become celebrities by converting to social media platforms. Just like the French revolution by the pheasants against the kings the social media masses have revolted against the media moguls and Mughals. Time for the true stories to rule the roost. The writer is a columnist, consultant, coach, and analyst and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets at @AndleebAbbas.