impartiality, objectivity termed basis of effective poll coverage
Speakers have said that impartiality, objectivity and honesty should be the benchmark for journalists covering the forthcoming polls.
They were speaking at a workshop on “Covering the Election 2008”, jointly organised by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) and Association of Television Journalists (ATJ) in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) at a local hotel on Sunday.
The experts urged the journalists to pay due care to their personal safety while covering the polls in sensitive and volatile constituencies. They were told to keep a close vigil on the whole electoral process, especially on polling day, despite the threats of violence. They were asked to remain completely impartial in their reporting. Their facts and figures should be properly verified, so that the confidence of the people in the media is not shattered.
Senior journalist and Director Geo TV Ghazi Salahuddin said that the media is an important player in social change. He said that journalists should be objective and neutral in their reporting while covering the polls. He also said that, in the backdrop of the prevailing circumstances in Pakistan, this impartiality and objectivity should never be taken lightly.
“When a reporter is discharging his professional responsibilities, he should also keep in mind that he is also an informal teacher of society,” he said and added that reporting should help reduce extremism and dogmatism in society and instead promote tolerance and harmony.
Editor Daily Express Tahir Najmi said that the media should not dictate to the people who they should vote for, but should only concentrate on showing them the real facts and figures and let the people to decide.
He said an impartial and objective reporting would raise socio-political awareness amongst the masses besides helping them in selecting the right candidates.
Professor Tauseef Ahmed of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology (FAUST) said various vested interests including Pirs, Chaudhrys, Waderas and particular political outfits often resort to violence if they were not allowed to rig the polls.
He said that, in such a scenario, reporters should give the first preference to their own life safety. He urged the journalists not to become a party and not intervene even when they witness a poll rigging; their sole role should be limited to mere objective and true reporting of that particular event.
Prof Ahmed said that journalists should announce only those results that were finalised by the presiding officers.
Former Managing Director PTV Farhad Zaidi asked the journalists to cover far-flung areas in groups by also the seek help of NGOs and civil society organisations, which are monitoring the elections.
Chairman, PPF, Fazal Qureshi said that it is a tragedy that, in our country, cameras and equipment are insured but reporters using them are not.
He urged the media organisations to give proper insurance cover and other facilities to their reporters, besides taking steps for their safety and security.
Source: The News