Government-media relations discussed
Media professionals have urged the government to empower Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra), to legislate for their safety. They expressed these views while addressing a conference on “Role of Media in National Transformation – Change the Narrative from Sensationalism” held at Planning Commission’s Secretariat on Thursday.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said that media, particularly electronic, should not always portray a negative image of the government. According to him, the criticism on government should be constructive. He said media always highlights political issues but does not give importance to issue related to economy.
M. Ziauddin said that there is need to promote cordial relations between the media and the government. He said that constructive criticism on government leads to transparency. He said media should play its role as a watchdog with utmost honesty and sincerity. He said there is a need to strengthen Pemra to play its role effectively. M. Ziauddin emphasised that the government needs to introduce a law on access to information with a view to establishing a friendly atmosphere for media.
Absar Alam said that it is difficult to defend electronic media as non-professionals are part of it. He said the government should take measures towards increased engagement of professionals. He said that unless the taste of news consumer is changed it is unlikely for media to focus on the developmental issues.
Hamid Mir said that “good journalism” and development are promoted in a good democratic system. He said that we are not living in normal condition, in the country and media is fighting the war of its survival. He said that freedom of the media is linked to the freedom of judiciary and sovereignty of parliament. Ahsan Iqbal said that Media is a powerful weapon which can be used for nation building and development instead of sensationalism and destruction. He announced, “The Planning Commission wants to partner with media for better coverage of development stories and has allocated money for the capacity building of journalists”.
The minister said the interest in economic reporting and development-related issues has lessened due to a lack of training of journalists. Member executive Pemra Kamaluddin Tipu said that Pemra’s job is to regulate information. He said media is the shadow of society. Dr Zafar Iqbal, head of Mass Communication Department in International Islamic University, said that media should work according to public demand and emphasised that Pemra should play a proactive role instead of being reactive.