Challenges ahead for media in coming years

KARACHI: Good old days for Pakistani media have gone and the coming years for journalists are highly unpredictable in this country, a moot was told here.

Various challenges to media were discussed on Saturday at a seminar organized by students of Karachi University’s Mass Communication department. The seminar was held at the Karachi Press Club.

Owais Aslam Ali, Secretary General of the Pakistan Press Foundation, said that attacks on journalists in Pakistan have increased manifold over the past ten years and the government has barely taken action in most such cases. In 97 per cent of the cases, the attackers are roaming scout-free, lamented Ali, who added that the coming years for journalists remained unpredictable.

According to Ali, there was a time when there were hardly any security concerns to the journalists but this peaceful time changed suddenly after 2002. He quoted the example of the attack on a DSNG belonging to DawnNews on Friday and said that incidents of violence against journalists continue to grow.

On the issue of media ethics, Abul Hasanat, a former city editor of Dawn and current editorial consultant with Express Tribune said that the lack of media ethics amongst journalists had more to do with internal shortcomings of media houses and less with external factors.

Hasanat was critical of ethics followed by the broadcast media and said that the media lacked basic ethics owing to lack of training. He also lamented the fact that media did not respect the privacy of public individuals with the result that the divorce of politician Imran Khan remained the topic of discussion on the media for a week.

Former department chairperson Tahir Masood in his remarks held media owners responsible for the lack of professional practice in the field. He said various attempts had been made to involve the media barons in helping with journalist training but this had proved futile. The media house owners are more to blame for the sliding standard of journalism in Pakistan, he noted.

In his remarks, Karachi Press Club secretary A.H. Khanzada was hopeful that things in the media would improve. The first step to improvement is that students of mass communication have held a seminar to discuss the challenges to journalists, he said, adding and this is the first step that they are recognizing the problem and that will help in addressing it.