Journalists call for forming ethics oversight bodies
Karachi: Senior journalists have demanded restructuring the Press Council of Pakistan and renaming it “Media Council” by extending its scope to the electronic media to monitor the content in terms of ethics.
A roundtable conference was held on “Ethical Journalism and the Print Media” was organised by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) and Pakistan Coalition on Ethical Journalism (PCEJ) at a hotel on Saturday.
The speakers also suggested appointment of an ombudsman or formation of an “ethics oversight committee” within the media organisations for monitoring the content and addressing the issue of ethical journalism.
The participants, including academicians, noted that clearly stated guidelines, documented policies and style guides were important to ensure ethical journalism in the print media. Stressing the need of training reporters, they said the newspaper owners, editors and news editors should also be trained and sensitised on ethical journalism as they were the decision makers in the organisations.
They suggested forming a group of master trainers for conducting refresher training courses for capacity building of the staff. They agreed on the fact that ethical journalism in Pakistan was being compromised due to financial constraints and advertisements, and that collective efforts were needed to address the issue
The participants also urged coordination between the media industry and the academia so that trained people were recruited in the field of journalism.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali said the promotion of ethics in Pakistani media was the need of the hour and the PCEJ was formed for this purpose. “The problem of ethics [in journalism] exists across the world and every unethical thing being done is not just because of commercial interests,” he said. “Therefore, creating awareness and sensitising the media owners, editors and journalists is necessary.”
Ali said a large number of projects for journalist trainings had been carried out in Pakistan in the past 10 years, but a lack of involvement and willingness was witnessed despite the fact that civil society organisations were willing to extend their support and assistance to them
The roundtable was attended by Zubeida Mustafa, Afia Salam, freelance journalist Bilal Farooqui from Daily Aghaz, Shahid Hussain from The News, Idrees Bakhtiar from the Geo Group, Kamran Mumtaz from Daily Mashriq Quetta, Saleem Shahid from Dawn Quetta, Nabeela Aslam from Internews agency, Express Tribune executive editor Muhammad Ziauddin, Shujauddin Qureshi from Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Dr Tauseef Ahmed from Federal Urdu University’s mass communication department, Nisar Ahmad Zuberi from Karachi University’s Mass Communication Department and Dureshahwar Channa and Sheerin Soomro from PPF among others.