KARACHI: The editors and senior journalists from different national newspapers, representatives of civil society organisations and the journalists working in conflict areas speaking at a roundtable discussion on ‘Print Media Coverage on Conflicts’ here Wednesday called for balanced reporting for minimising the threat to the life of journalists working in conflict zones.
The participants of roundtable discussion, organised by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) and moderated by a senior journalist Rahimullah Yousufzai of Peshawar at a local hotel, also discussed the role of print media organisations and urged for taking preemptive measures for safety of the journalists representing them in conflict regions of the country.
The participants highlighted the killings of several journalists in entire country in general and tribal areas and Balochistan in particular. The journalists from Quetta told that most of the newsmen were leaving Balochistan due to threats of grave consequences from militants. “Some journalists have confined themselves to the homes while press clubs in Khuzdar and Punjgur have been closed after threats,” they informed.
Some of the participants noted that the newspapers generally depend on reports of foreign news agencies about the happenings of conflict areas instead of their own correspondents. Zafar Abbas, a senior journalist and editor of Daily Dawn, opined that the newspaper organizations had been reluctant spending on sending their own reporters for the coverage of the conflicts, which is one of the factors of relying or depending on foreign news agencies.
Kamal Siddiqui, editor Express Tribune, was of the view that the correspondents working in conflict zones were sometimes scared of filing reports of sensitive nature that could pose threat to their life.
Khawar Saeed, editor, Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt, Karachi raised the neutrality of reports filed from conflict zones, as according to him most of such reports are fed to the journalists by military officials or by militants. He viewed that print media was severely affected by the trend of sensationalism introduced by electronic media. “Extremism and modernism is on the increase inside the newsroom of dailies where the news editor uses sensational headlines to attract the reader like the TV channels do.
“No ethics of journalism are observed currently in print media, which is the result of destruction caused by electronic media,” he remarked. The roundtable also discussed another serious aspect- working of journalists like an activist of militant groups, political and religious organisations, as generally is alleged, which is reflected by the reports filed by them and consequently they fall victim to violence.
Zafar Abbas suggested that the editors and senior journalists of different national dailies should sit together and decide for guidance of reporters what language should be used in reports before filing.
Iqbal Khattak, Project Director, Internews, Shirinzada, a journalist from Swat, Sudhir Afridi from Landikotal, Zafar Baloch and Ms Javeria from Quetta, Ms Rakhshanda, a lawyer and human rights activist from Peshawar, Nasir Aijaz, editor, PPI news agency, Lala Hasan of PPF and others also shared their experiences and views.
At the outset, Zaigham gave a presentation based on a study focusing Afghan conflict and related issues as reported by Pakistani print and electronic media. The report prepared by Intermedia Pakistan covers the period from April to August 2012.
Secretary General PPF Owais Aslam Ali speaking on the aims of holding roundtable discussion said it would help understand the media’s role in these difficult times and bridge gaps among different stake holders. He also spoke on ending impunity for those involved in physical and other kind of violence against journalists.