Mediamen want hurdles removed
PESHAWAR- Speakers at workshop on December 13, 2002 pointed out deficiencies in the working of journalism and called for removing them.
December 13, 2002 was the last day of three-day workshop. The speakers cited lack of proper and timely payment by the employers to the reporters, reluctance on the part of the officials to share information to newsmen and shrinking job market, which hampered the performance of the working journalists in Frontier.
“The laws of land dealing with press and fear and threats being hurled at journalists, not only hinder investigative work of the journalists but sometimes make the research an impossible task in an atmosphere which doesn’t allow freedom of press,” said researcher Altafullah Khan in his paper on “Professional role of Pakistani journalists: An empirical study” at the workshop, organized by the Department of Journalism, University of Peshawar.
According to Mr Khan, most of the journalists working here weren’t being paid or were underpaid and they ultimately resorted to taking favours and receiving gifts and even money from various “sources” to make both ends meet.
Mr Altaf, who based his research on interviews conducted with journalists in Islamabad and Peshawar, said gathering elementary information, seeking cooperation of the interviewees and persistent pursuance of new stories by the journalists were daunting task, which also incapacitated them to keep their professional contacts intact. The other problem faced by the journalists was the unjustifiable intervention of the personnel of the law-enforcement agencies, which has deteriorated the functioning of the press-people to a great deal.
Lack of cooperation on the part of the officials in furnishing information also deprives the journalist community to collect authentic and credible data, said Mr Altaf, adding that most of the reputed and professional journalists got their practical training at their newspapers offices and the field and went through untold ordeals and difficulties. However, he said they were considered as impersonators by all and sundry.
The journalists often confronted a host of fears and uncertainty, mainly because of the unreliability and unpredictability of the government that turned reporting in this part of the country a difficult task.
He also lamented that the pressmen enjoyed no liberty, which has turned situation so sour that he himself conducted the interviews with Pakistani journalists in a clandestine matter in order to avoid embarrassing the power that be. He said he completed his research step-by-step and organized debates and discussions at informal places.
Nonpayment by the employers to the reporters naturally enticed them to receiving bribes and favours by striking compromise deals with the vested interest groups, he added.
According to him, the reporters were low-paid than their colleagues in Islamabad, because the former lived in unhygienic environs along with their families.
He was of view that the government also reigned in print media, because of the dependability of the newspapers’ owners on government advertisements and news print quotas. The existence of the press laws and other ambiguous legislative pieces were enough tools at the disposal of the government to browbeat the press. This, he said, had affected the functioning of press, because the newspapers’ owners, at the behest of the government, made compromises on the reports of their reporters in order to get maximum advertisements.
Mr Altaf also spoke about the poor performance of the journalists’ union and said they had cordial relations among themselves, but the attainment of collective basic rights remained a far cry. Still, he said the local journalists were getting international exposure, specially after the 9/11 events and their contacts with the international forums of journalists working for the promotion of their community across the globe.
Others who presented the papers included Rahimullah Yusufzai, Dr Arnulf Kutsch, Dr Klaus Beck, Prof Abdus Sattar Abbasi and Susanne Voigt.