Sherry asks electronic media to avoid sensationalism -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Sherry asks electronic media to avoid sensationalism

ISLAMABAD – Federal Information Minister Sherry Rehman Thursday asked electronic media to adopt more responsible approach in reporting events and avoid unnecessary focus on political news as it had buried other real issues of human interest.

Speaking at the Rozan’s Munsalik Media Project, she said that media’s sources were the main cause of spreading sensationalism. She said that the incumbents had granted freedom of expression to the media and journalistic community, which they should handle with “prudence and keen sense of responsibility”.

“The race for beepers and breaking news has put extra pressure on the field staff. If one channel runs a false news, the reporters of other channels are put under intense pressure to create something to counter that story,” she remarked. The minister said the government would appoint “gender agents” in the main ministries to herald a change in attitude on gender related issues.

She suggested that the media itself should device a code of conduct for covering gender-related issues.

Sherry Rehman suggested electronic media to reserve at least 10 per cent total time for public service messages. The Minister said she had come to the seminar not as a Minister but as a person who supported the initiative of the Rozan and added she had struggled along with NGOs and other civil society organisations for rights of the people in the past and would like to do so in future also as it was a continuous process.

She said editors in the newspapers play a key role and decide the editorial priorities of the organisations and advised them to shift focus of news coverage from political to human-interest stories. She stressed that the civil society of the country had an important role to play in national politics. She cautioned that unless all the stakeholders made themselves quite evident and exposed to masses, the state would be helpless in recognising and visualising their targeted objectives.

Earlier, Rozan launched its Musalik Media Project that is aimed to support media on issues related to violence against women and children. Maria Rashid, Rozan’s Co-Director emphasised the importance of this timing for the media and NGO’s to work together. She appreciated that the media had in the past few years showed consistent attention to women’s issues and this was a welcome sign.

Ghazi Salahuddin, a leading columnist, highlighted the way media reports cases of Violence Against Women (VAW.) He shared that reporting in vernacular press was insensitive and often breached confidentiality. Absar Alam shared how women were being commodified for advertisements. Feryal Gauhar expressed her views on the portrayal of women in cinema and in TV. She also highlighted the images of the movies in Pakistan and shared how a woman was shared as a wily or an object of sexual pleasure.

Mazhar Abbas, General Secretary Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ), said that media’s role was only depiction; NGOs also needed to take the role. Tahira Abdullah, a human rights activist said that a woman was reduced to her gender roles and there was a need to think beyond that. Introducing the project, Co-ordinator Munsalik, Shabana Arif said how patriarchal values had undermined the importance of a woman and assigned secondary status to her. She shared that media’s portrayal of woman was often not positive because of the existing stereotypes in the society.
Source: The Nation
Date:6/6/2008