Press moot invokes interest -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Press moot invokes interest

KARACHI — National journalism moot at the University of Karachi never started with a bang but while it was about to end two bombs rocked the City. It attracted top journalists of both Urdu and English Press while students showed unusual interest. Indeed, it was a commendable effort.

Prime Minister, Zafarullah Jamali failed to inaugurate the three-day moot hence speakers and guests and hosts were saved of security embarrassment. Jamali should have made it a point to attend. He perhaps lost an opportunity of interaction with national journalist community in an academic atmosphere. His Information Minister, congenial and colourful Sheikh Rashid Ahmed made the concluding session lively with his speech and remarks. He announced Rs2.5 million for Mass Communication Institute, which was largely welcomed.

The conference covered almost every aspect of Pakistani journalism including deteriorating standard of reporting and sub-editing, future of Urdu Press, cheap tabloids, magazines and digests and comparison of Urdu and English journalism. For reasons best known to hosts, they included session on what they believe ‘envelope journalism’ and a top editor from Lahore was chosen to defend his profession. The poor fellow, who is quite rich by any standards, faced fiery questions from experienced and young audience both. But it is fine that people are talking openly about such thorny issues and are not pushing them under the carpet.

True, some senior journalists seldom allow eager students to ask questions but general standard of even questions was high and it showed knowledge of students. It is obvious the way Dr. Pirzada Qasim, Dr. Tahir Masood, Dr. Jamil Jalibi and Jamiluddin Aali exhibited literary touch; people enjoyed it.

In Pakistani Press doing sufficient to act as watchdog for the society? Perhaps not. As students showed dissatisfaction with the general performance of the Press. Some questioned integrity of journalists. A poet and writer editor of a top daily failed to turn up and people missed him. Sadly some media personalities did not attach much importance to this important moot.

However, it was nice to see congenial Prof. Zakaria Sajid interacting with his grey haired pupil, Ziauddin who came from power capital to deliver his paper on ‘comparison of Urdu and English Press’. Himself an old student of former journalism department, Ziauddin perhaps was a reluctant speaker. He was involved in history of freedom of the Press, which was not his topic. Yet he had the courage to accept the fact that story of Osama bin Laden’s so-called nukes was a blunder. Though he blamed an Urdu newspaper for that.

Professor Shariful Mujahid rightly pointed out his lack of interest in speech though Ziauddin himself accepted the fact ‘I am not a speaker I am a practising journalist.’ But he finds no major difference in Urdu and English Press yet he is not very happy the way some Urdu journalists are running English newspapers. Shariful Mujahid finds English newspapers, issues oriented while Urdu Press is mostly opinionated largely. He presented an unusual idea of Urdu Press being blackmailed easily than the English Press. Dr. Nisar Ahmed Zuberi discussed new and cheap (low priced) newspapers of Karachi and Lahore and their economic viability. He was happy these newspapers have created an army of readers and writers but he disliked promotion of Indian actresses in some newspapers.

Sajjad Mir of Nawa-i-Waqt presented his Paper on ‘Lahore and Karachi schools of thoughts in journalism’ and defended them both. He pointed out tilt towards mission by Lahore Press while Karachi Press mainly focused to attain status of an industry, he said. SM took keen interest in day-to-day proceedings of the moot and most speakers acknowledged his presence. Aali talked about his long association with him.

Sheikh Rashid noticed his friend Mir was there while popular Mahtab Akbar Rashdi paid him tribute. Seasoned Farhad Zaidi who switched over from print to electronic media and vice versa discussed ‘temperament of Urdu Journalism’ while Athar Hashmi presented his views on ‘various centres of Urdu Press’.

Dr. Maskin Ali Hijazi‘s paper was on the quality of language. He has attained the position of scholar in journalism as those who read his books became seasoned journalists themselves. He mixed freely among students and answered their questions. Mudassar Mirza discussed front page and did justice to his subject. Surprisingly, Prof. Mateenur Rehman Murtaza remained quiet during usual proceedings but he presented his views on the problems of translation well. Farooq Adil showed his research quality on the ‘introduction of new technology’. Dr. Seemi Naghmana of Balochistan University presented her paper on ‘freedom of opinion and the Urdu Press. She relied heavily on the book by lone fighter Zamir Niazi. Dr. Shafiq Jallandhri and Tahir Najmi talked about ‘investigative reporting’ and ‘circulation problems’ of Urdu newspapers. Shabbir Baluch discussed their credibility.

Prof. Shahida Kazi who was first lady reporter of a Karachi newspaper showed her concern over trend to discourage girls from joining the profession. She wanted women journalists to play their active role in investigative reporting and lamented general tendency of discouraging women.

In the last session, Federal Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid, stole the show with his usual remarks even about himself. ‘Seldom I attend gathering of learned people,’ he lamented the fact he was not considered suitable for admission in Journalism Department of Punjab University yet he managed to become Information Minister thrice. He refused to take all credit for what he called unprecedented Press freedom in Pakistan and accepted ‘it was started during Junejo era.’ City Chief Naimatullah Khan made an emotional speech and received applause.

Chief of Conference Committee, Dr. Muhammad Shamusuddin presented vote of thanks. Karachi professor who migrated to his native Bahawalpur did a commendable job. He was involved in almost every thing from the word go.
Main driving force behind national journalism moot was journalist-turned-columnist-turned leader turned professor, Dr. Tahir Masood who sacrificed his sleep and rest to make his show a success story.

He drew Minister’s attention towards ban on official advertisement in some top newspapers but shrewd Minister avoided it. He failed to avoid a chit sent to him by a well-informed editor. It was about bomb blasts near US consulate. Sheikh Rashid glanced at it, paused, looked around and made a quick call on his mobile. One part of the City was rocked by powerful blast while the other was normal. This is Karachi.
Source: The Nation
Date:6/1/2004