Call for media houses collaboration to fend off threats -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Call for media houses collaboration to fend off threats

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: “You don’t kill a story if you Kill a journalist,” said multimedia journalist and trainer Terry Anzur during a session at The Second Floor on Thursday.

The session titled ‘strengthening broadcast journalism’ revolved around experiences and expressions of two journalists currently on a training tour organised by the US state department.

Anzur with over 30 years of working experience was accompanied by Linda Roth, executive producer at the Cable News Network`s programme The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.

They shared their experiences as broadcast journalists and discussed reporting being done under current circumstances world over.

Anzur pointed out how investigative reporting was harder than ever.

The surest way of making it possible was through a collective effort by all media houses involved, she added.

In this connection she narrated an incident that occurred back in 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona. A reporter for the Arizona Republic, Don Bolles, was given a tip-off about organised crime by a source and asked to meet him at a hotel. The source didn`t show up when Bolles reached the hotel.

He got back in his car to leave the premises and as soon as he turned the ignition on, a powerful bomb ripped through the car, leaving him with severe injuries. He died after 11 days. Apart from being a reporter for the newspaper, he was one of the founding members of a consortium of investigative reporters called, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).

Though shocked, the IRE decided to send out a dozen reporters to work on the same story. `They ended up publishing a 23-part series on organised crime in various newspapers across the country. His car is now part of a museum in Arizona, where children are informed about his courage and strength,` she added.

It was this kind of camaraderie between reporters from various news organisations which was missing in the present circumstances when it was needed most, she said.

Competitive media companies must come together to cover the stories left uncovered by another reporter. This will send out a stronger message to the government and groups posing threats, she said.

While speaking about multiple issues in one go, both Roth and Anzur were mindful of not speaking about particular issues, such as the controversy surrounding former National Surveillance Agency whistle blower Edward Snowden, which they said was `out of their area of expertise`.

Speaking about newspapers and broadcast journalism, Anzur said that the only way to push reporters into writing or presenting a better story was to stop being their consumers.

`The storytelling has to be first class to gain the attention of your viewers or readers, otherwise people can always go back to YouTube and watch funny cat videos.

Roth, meanwhile, spoke about how daytime viewing can, at times, be completely twisted. Quoting an incident, she said once a video of a when it was needed most, she said.

`Competitive media companies must come together to cover the stories left uncovered by another reporter. This will send out a stronger message to the government and groups posing threats, she said.

While speaking about multiple issues in one go, both Roth and Anzur were mindful of not speaking about particular issues, such as the controversy surrounding former National Surveillance Agency whistle blower Edward Snowden, which they said was `out of their area of expertise`.

Speaking about newspapers and broadcast journalism, Anzur said that the only way to push reporters into writing or presenting a better story was to stop being their consumers.

`The storytelling has to be first class to gain the attention of your viewers or readers, otherwise people can always go back to YouTube and watch funny cat videos.

Roth, meanwhile, spoke about how daytime viewing can, at times, be completely twisted. Quoting an incident, she said once a video of aman committing suicide went live on a TV news channel. Summing up the topic, Anzur said that, `Having a free press can sometimes mean having a bad press. But it`s better than censorship.

Speaking of good and bad press, a gentleman sitting in the front row pointed out how some of the recent reporting on Ukraine crisis on US news channels was full of ‘machismo and nationalism’. Once again being guarded,both reporters gave a non-committal response: `The American press loves to reach through other means and tries to explore all the angles of a story.

By the end of the conversation and answering a volley of questions thrown at them, Anzur wrapped up the session by saying: `What you (reporters) do is tremendous. It takes some real courage to report from here (Pakistan). All we can do is to cheer you on.` Giving another piece of advice, she said that journalists in Pakistan must fight for their independence. `Don`t let the government put you in line, rather you should be putting them in line.

The power is in your hands, if you don`t like it, turn it off.

DAWN