Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) Roundtable Discussion with Senior Electronic Media Professionals & CSOs,
April 6, 2012
Safety of Journalists urged
The participants of National Roundtable discussion have said that reporting in conflict areas had become a difficult task and journalists have been facing enormous challenges and threats; therefore, serious and effective measures should be taken to ensure the safety and security of journalists. It was said that 70 percent of Pakistan was being underreported in the press/media due to journalists not knowing even the basics of news, and strategic position of the area in which they were working.
This was observed during a national roundtable discussion on “Reporting Conflict” organized by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a local hotel of Karachi on April 6, 2012.
The senior electronic media professionals also stressed on the need to change the mindsets of the policymakers so that lives of journalists working in conflict areas can be secured. They said that training and counseling was vital for capacity building of journalists as many of those join the profession without any training and take it as part-time job.
They expressed serious concerns and reservation over the current trend of breaking news and sensationalism being introduced by some TV channels. They said it had been damaging the impartiality and responsible reporting. Participants were of the opinion that there were loop holes and weak check and balance systems while filing any news, due to which, sometimes incorrect information was disseminated to the masses. It was also observed that most of the time desk staff did not understand the ground realities in some cases, which also put journalists in danger.
Senior electronic media professionals including News Incharges, Bureau Chiefs, reporters from conflict areas and the representatives of Civil Society Organizations across four provinces of Pakistan and FATA participated in the discussion.
Media professionals said that a trend was continuing in some organizations, where people were hired without any merit by giving just a press card in rural areas mostly, which had badly affected responsible journalism and reporters’ credibility. Therefore, an effective campaign should be launched to discourage such non journalistic approaches.
Some participants were of the view that media in Pakistan was not so mature and priorities of most of the media houses were just to gain ratings and advertisements but not the quality of news and journalism. They said that self-accountability was inevitable to promote the responsible journalism.
Participants said that assignments should be given to reporters for more proactive news as to allow in-depth coverage of terror-related incidents or conflict, fair space should be given to all the news and follow-up stories should be ensured.
The participants said that many things could be done through trainings and by enhancing awareness, adding that media organizations should formulate Code of Ethics and ensure strict implementation on it so as to promote impartial and unbiased journalism, besides ensuring protection to the lives of journalists.
According to some participants, the role of news desk in TV Channels had reduced 10 to 20 percent, as most of the events were covered live, in which reporter; field staff, digital satellite News Gathering (DSNG) operator and satellite engineers were involved. They said that the media should not come under pressure of any group or party and it should give the versions of all sides without any bias.
General Secretary, Pakistan Press Foundation, Mr. Owais Aslam said that life of journalists had become very difficult and one third of journalists working in tribal areas or conflict zones have left their homes and shifted to other safer places to save their lives. He said that PPF has been monitoring attacks on journalists, preparing and releasing reports on it, and also supporting them by highlighting their problems which they were facing while performing their professional duties in the field.
A report titled reporting terrorism related conflict, prepared by Intermedia was launched during the Roundtable discussion. According to data of report, 65 percent target killing incidents were reported in Sindh province, while kidnapping remained on the rise in Punjab province. 33 percent published stories were regarding target killings and armed fighting reported from Balochistan, while over 40% of the stories reported from Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa were related bomb blasts. 161 news stories were reported in newspapers from FATA, while 17 were aired at TV Channels. Data proved that the media was urbanized. According to this research data, it was observed that most of the news items were reactionary news.
Vice chairman of HRCP, Tahir Hassan Khan, Senior Journalist Shahzada Zulfiqar from Quetta, Faisal Aziz Khan of Geo News, Ali Shinvari from FATA, Rabiah Baig of InterNews, Sadaf Baig of Intermedia, Imtiaz Chandio of Waqt News TV, Riaz-ul-Haq of CAMP, KPK, Wahid Jaskani of KTN News, Aamir Ahmad Bureau Chief of Samaa TV, and others also share their views on the topic.
Moderator: Saeed Minhas from Islamabad
Event Coordinator: Lala Hassan, PPF
Participants of Roundtable discussion
1. Mr. Shahzada Zulfiqar, Senior Journalist/ Freelancer, Quetta
2. Mr. Riaz-ul-Haq, CAMP (NGO), KPK/FATA
3. Mr. Yasir Majeed, Rohi TV, Multan
4. Mr. Tahir Hussain Khan, HRCP, Quetta
5. Mr. Ali Shinvari, Duniya TV , Khyber Agency
6. Mr. Saif Baloch, Samaa TV, Quetta
7. Mr. Akhtiar Bhatti, Awaz TV, Karachi
8. Mr. Aamir Ahmad, Samaa TV , Karachi
9. Mr. Faisal Aziz Khan, Geo TV, Karachi
10. Mr. Wahid Jaskani, KTN, Karachi
11. Mr. Imtiaz Chandio, Waqt TV, Karachi
12. Mr. Aminullah Khan, Basic Education for Awareness Reforms
and Empowerment (BEFARE), Karachi
13. Ms. Sadaf Baig, Intermedia, Islamabad
14. Mr. Owais Aslam Ali, PPF, Karachi
15. Ms. Rabiah Beg, InterNews, Islamabad
16. Ms. Sheerin Soomro, PPF, Karachi
17. Ms. Dur-e-Shahwar Channa, PPF, Karachi