Has the media been responsible with its independence?
KARACHI: The media is more independent than it is responsible.
This is what a study of the Institute of Business Management (IoBM) concluded — an analysis that was seconded by most journalists and students present at its launch.
The IoBM, in collaboration with the USAID, launched its ‘Media Responsibility and Independence Index (MRII) 2015′ at the Marriott hotel on Thursday.
According to the report, the index of media responsibility stands at 5.4608, while media independence stands at 5.7458, out of a scale of 10. The study concluded that, “stakeholders believed that although the media enjoys limited independence in Pakistan, the degree of responsibility they demonstrate falls even shorter; also, both scores remain lower than the acceptable threshold.”
The main findings of the study were introduced by the head of media studies at IoBM, Ejaz Wasay. He explained that the research aimed to establish a credible metric to impartially monitor how developed the media was in Pakistan.
The year-long study was conducted between two variables, independence and responsibility of the media for better understanding the status of journalists’ freedom in the country. A total of 399 people were interviewed, of which 38.8 per cent were media owners and professionals.
Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, who gave the opening remarks, said that media has crept in our bedrooms and dining rooms and today’s youth was more aware as compared to previous generations.
All Pakistan Newspapers Society secretary-general Sarmad A Ali said that the responsibility that was supposed to come with the independence of the electronic channels had failed to mushroom. He said that the freedom of press wasn’t handed on a platter and that newspapers had struggled for years for this independence.
The highlight of the event was the heated panel discussion that included speakers from the print and television media, such as Amir Zia, Sabin Agha, Gibran Peshimam, Lubna Jerar Naqvi, Owais Mangalwala and Ovais Jafar. With the exception of Peshimam, all the other journalists felt that if they were to pick whether the media was responsible or free, they would go with the latter.
Some like Mangalwala stressed on forming a body to regulate the media as it was highly irresponsible. “Media regulation can’t come from the inside. Otherwise there will be clash of interests. There has to be an independent body.”
Zia was of the opinion that no subject was taboo today and journalists could write and speak against anything, be it the ‘mighty military’. “If you are a professional journalist, there is no limitation to what you write.” He said that press freedom was as free in Pakistan as it could be in a third-world country.
Meanwhile, Peshimam said that independence and responsibility were mixed. And if he had to choose between the two, it would be that the media is less independent and more responsible.
Sabin Agha said the media enjoyed a lot of freedom. She stressed on media trainings and said that no channels and organisations wanted to invest in that. Lubna Jerar said that the media has become irresponsible because senior journalists were sidelined and only the pretty-faced and young were brought forward.