During my interactions with the media, I have been told many times about the hurdles that journalists are facing in our country. I believe that the history of journalism is as old as the history of life on this planet.
From day one, humans have wanted to have better communication with each other for better understanding. In ancient times, people used to express their views through symbols, colours and pictures. That can also be called the beginning of journalism. Later on, the invention of different languages, scripts, alphabets, and most importantly, the development of the printing press resulted in the formalization of the media industry.
Newspaper, radio, television and after that the internet, and the smartphone, introduced new horizons in the fields of modern journalism and today, every person not only wants to stay updated with the latest news but also wants to contribute to the dissemination of news through social media.
In the era of digital journalism, any tweet or viral video clip has the potential to become breaking news for traditional media. Due to this, it is becoming very difficult to distinguish between an authentic news report by a professional journalist and a sensational news post by amateurs for the sake of earning likes and retweets. Therefore, the traditional structure of the news industry is also being forced to substantially modify itself, affecting the core values of the profession and its ethics.
In my view, journalism is a sacred profession, where a journalist, using his/her pen, plays the noble role of spreading truth for the betterment of society.
Obviously, the long journey of the media is still going on with immense difficulties and hurdles. Almost in every part of the world, the journalist community has to pay heavy sacrifices in search of the truth. According to a report, Pakistan is believed to be one of the dangerous countries for journalists where many journalists lost their lives while carrying out their professional duties.
While paying tribute to all those brave and legendary journalists, I would like to say that the final victory is always of the truth. World history has witnessed that in every era, good people used the pen to prove their arguments, and today after hundreds of years, their good work is still acknowledged. Is it not strange that Socrates, who took poison thousands years ago for the sake of the truth, is even alive in the history but those who punished him are lost in the darkness of past?
It is the right of every journalist to have the freedom to practise fact-based reporting without any fear. However, the journalist community must also devise a reliable mechanism to be self-accountable. For the sake of responsible journalism, the media must not reluctant to highlight those who are a source of bad name to the entire sacred profession of journalism.
We are also religiously bound to not spread rumours, and fake and negative information which may harmful for the society. While using social media, we have to be careful while expressing our views, especially regarding national ideology. Many malicious elements are found spreading negativity and hopelessness among the nation. It is duty of every patriot journalist to defeat the nation by promoting responsible journalism, while keeping patriotism and national interest on top priority.
The government should also not pressurize the media either directly or indirectly. If someone has any problem with any media outlet, he/she must consult proper forums like Pemra for redressal. For this purpose, Pemra should constitute a committee with a good reputation and credibility, both in the eyes of the media and the public, so that the decisions and recommendations are acceptable for everyone.
However, unconstitutional steps such as the closure of television channels or halting government advertisements must be discouraged at any cost. Being strong advocate of responsible media, I believe that there should be no compromise on press freedom in our beloved country.
The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.