Soch: news for Pakistan’s youth

Youth literacy rate in Pakistan is estimated to be 53 percent and, in an age of digital media, even those who can read are slowly giving up newspapers. Soch or Think offers fresh and alternative views on some of the most pressing issues in the region.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, in Pakistan an estimated 63 percent of the population falls under the age of 25 years. Youth literacy rate is estimated to be 53 percent and, in an age of digital media, even those who can read are slowly giving up newspapers. Therefore, the use of multimedia is essential in reaching the target audience.

Soch is a bilingual news channel in Urdu and English for the youth which covers breaking news and feature stories across Pakistan. Soch or Think offers fresh and alternative views on some of the most pressing issues in the region.

It aims to widen teenagers’ knowledge of news and current affairs as well as of people and places. The television channel offers busy teenagers an opportunity to explore their country and the world from the comfort of their own homes. The website engages with the youth and provides them a platform to voice their opinions.

The TV channel offers a mix of news bulletins and packages, documentary series, and infotainment shows. The news bulletins cover entertainment, sports, politics, business, current affairs, and regional, national, and international news. It also features interviews with local celebrities and athletes, offers fashion and relationship advice, and covers the latest movie and event reviews that 13 to 19-year-olds find compelling.

A 30 minute Urdu news bulletin airs at 3pm and 8pm, lunch and dinner time when students tend to watch television. This is followed by an English version at 3:30pm and 8:30pm.

Each television programme offers its own unique style and approach to cover topics which the youth find most interesting.

Social media content highlights what is in the interest of the socially-conscious teen, by showing the human aspect of all developments and the problems faced by the common man. A documentary series of people and places opens the audience to different religions, social backgrounds, and races. This comes at a time when intolerance seems on the rise after the assassination of Pakistan’s minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti.

For the nature-loving teenager, nature and wildlife documentaries explore Pakistan and share interesting facts about its environment and animals, such as the blind dolphins of River Indus.

Leisure and lifestyle documentaries explore the arts and craft, music, food, fashion, and culture prevalent in Pakistan. Truck art, for example, an old Pakistani tradition has recently found its place in high fashion after designers such as Deepak Perwani have incorporated the colours and designs in their latest collections.

Science and technology programmes cater to the tech-savvy generation of Pakistan, in particular teenage boys. It has the latest information on automobiles, cellphones and gadgets in the market.

Historical documentaries revisit important archeological sites such as Taxila, northwest Pakistan, where Alexandar the Great is said to have entered India, and the ruins of Mohenjo-daro, one of the earliest urban settlements from the Indus Civilization.

The TV channel and website is run by a team of ten journalists. The editor and sub-editor are in charge of looking over the content before it is published to ensure that it is grammatically and factually correct.

A team of four journalists is responsible for finding newsworthy and original stories that make the output of the channel. They report on entertainment, sports, business, weather, traffic and politics to keep viewers up to date with what’s happening every day. They write articles, blogs, and feature stories for the website as well as the script of the TV news bulletins.

A team of two other journalists is responsible for finding content for the TV programmes such as documentaries and infotainment shows.

All the journalists are trained in video, audio, and photojournalism to supplement their stories with multimedia content, e.g. interviews.

The multimedia editor assists in the ongoing training of reporters in technical storytelling skills. He is also responsible for editing multimedia projects quickly, accurately and to the highest journalistic standards.

The interactive journalist is in charge of the website’s appearance and updating Facebook and Twitter widgets to ensure that users feel like they are connecting with the channel.

Soch implements a newsroom-wide multimedia strategy to bring multimedia and interactive content to its viewers daily.

The home page of Soch website is divided under the following sections: news, entertainment, sports, business, weather, programmes, multimedia (video + audio + photojournalism), user-generated content, watch live.

Television programmes and news clips can be found on the website under different categories to make it easier for visitors to select their area of interest. The TV channel can also be streamed directly on the web to keep the viewer informed of the day’s events.

There is more variety in output on the website as the internet is a platform that can accommodate different formats. The website also offers audio clips and pictures to support news stories. Blogs and features are also available to provide a more personal view.

The community section on the website encourages interactivity with users. They are encouraged to ‘like’, rate, and comment on content, as well as to voice their own opinions on matters they find compelling. They can submit their stories, photos, video and audio clips to Soch for a chance to be published.

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