Monday, December 25, 2017

Perspective: Pakistani ‘Media loves power but runs away from responsibility’ | Zoya Anwer


All the panellists however stressed on the need to verify sources of news which surfaces on social media or groups because at times the news is fake or inaccurate and ends up being aired without any verification.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | Int'l Desk
Source/Credit: The News
By Zoya Anwer | December 25, 2017

Journalists at a session at the 10th International Urdu Conference stressed the need for sensitivity trainings for reporters and media personnel while on the field and for verifying news sources before airing or publishing.

The session titled “Changing faces of journalism,” moderated by journalist Wusatullah Khan was held on Saturday and featured Aasma Sherazi, Mazhar Abbas, Owais Tauheed and Zarrar Khuhro.

The panellists discussed various aspects of electronic media including the weakness of a union to fight on behalf of journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty or the discrepancy in the pay scales of a working journalist and a TV anchor.

Commenting on the prevalent ratings culture, Aasma said that some politicians like Sheikh Rashid are not just invited on shows because they add “flavour” to discussions, but because people find him relatable, hence not all current affairs shows should be equated to entertainment.

Mazhar Abbas begged to differ and said that anchors often continue to play the devil’s advocate when a fiery argument takes place in order to boost ratings. He felt that in this day and age journalists were out to seek falsehoods instead of truth [for more ratings], and channels often pursue their own interests.

Referring to last year’s case against a newspaper for printing a story conflicting with ‘national interest’ – the matter dubbed Dawn Leaks – he said that similar efforts were not made [by the government] when a channel aired a news story about the dissolution of assemblies.

“The source which was said to be from General Headquarters (GHQ) said that the assemblies were to be dissolved,” said Abbas. “However, nothing of the sort happened. But, no inquiry took place and nobody said anything about whether the news was leaked or even planted.”

Talking about ethics often ignored by TV reporters and anchors, the panel agreed that proper training was needed for the journalists. Khuhro, however, felt that even those training them should be taught because a reporter is often being told to ask insensitive questions from people affected in tragedies.

Aasma pointed out that at times, the pressure to break news triumphs ethics but maintained that ethics need to be prioritised first. “I think the there is a need to strengthen the editorial policies applied in television programmes because at times reporters don’t get reprimanded for making blunders on screen,” said Aasma, recalling that during her time reporting at a private television, the staff would be taught the dos and don’ts clearly.

Speaking about the power of social media today, Owais Tauheed said that its importance can be seen from the recent video which went viral after the Faizabad siege in Islamabad.

“The video showed an armed forces representative distributing cash among the attendees of the sit-in, which brought the country to its knees. Mainstream media picked it up and there was a debate about it so social media definitely has a great impact on mainstream media,” he said.

All the panellists however stressed on the need to verify sources of news which surfaces on social media or groups because at times the news is fake or inaccurate and ends up being aired without any verification.

Khuhro raised an important point regarding the power of media as to how it can also get people killed. “When five bloggers were picked up earlier this year, some TV anchors made sure to fuel propaganda against them by accusing them of committing blasphemy, an act which is a call for death these days,” he said.

All charges against those bloggers have been dropped recently but for a good 10 months, the lives of so many were at stake just because some channel owners deemed it fit to give prime time to hate mongers, the TV host added.

“We love the power of media but we are not willing to accept any responsibility regarding it,” he said.

Moreover, while Aasma felt that Pakistan has a free media because there is a possibility to demand accountability from the establishment, Abbas and Tauheed stressed that many press clubs in Balochistan have been shut down and virtually no news is coming out from there, which showed that media wasn’t free as yet.

Speaking about the issues regarding the delay in payment of salaries, Abbas said that earlier unions used to play a role by standing firm against media house owners but now if a cameraperson or any fixer gets affected in a blast, they are fired from their jobs instead of getting financial help.


Read original post here: Perspective: Pakistani ‘Media loves power but runs away from responsibility’ | Zoya Anwer


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