Media asked to play effective social role
ISLAMABAD: Unless the media discharged its duty of a watchdog of public interest, its freedom would be meaningless, declared a workshop held here over the weekend on Â‘Media and Civil Society’.
Participants of the workshop, organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), called upon the media to assume its responsibilities and resist attempts by state and non-state actors to hegemonies it or otherwise influence its performance.
While appreciating the difficult circumstances in which the media has to operate in Pakistan, and expressing solidarity with all the legitimate demands of the working journalists, they stressed that the media would be meaningful to the society when it discharged its responsibilities in the public interest.
Rights activists and media watchers who discussed media’s treatment of matters related to vulnerable groups — women, children, minorities, workers and students — noted that coverage of developments concerning these groups had increased in quantity but the media still had “to develop empathy with the marginalised and the underprivileged”. The media’s inability or reluctance to condemn excesses against women and non-Muslim citizens contributed to continuance of such practices, they said.
They said the media must not be content with merely reporting a wrong done to any citizen or group of citizens, but must also discharge its responsibility to help the victims in getting redress and recompense.
Free press was a product of democracy and it has responsibility to sustain the system which gives it sustenance and legitimacy, reminded the participants.
They pleaded for training and capacity building of journalists by media organizations as well as determining minimum qualifications for journalists.
Editorial control in the news media should be exercised by journalists, who are mindful of journalistic ethics and standards, rather than by the corporate interest of the owners, the workshop concluded.
HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf said the commission will shortly release a detailed report of the workshop.