’Media freedom be exercised with professional responsibility’

KARACHI: Freedom of media should be exercised smartly without ruling out professional responsibility by giving priority to social interests rather than business.

This concern was voiced on Thursday by important media figures.

Senior journalist Amir Zia said in the world of media these days journalists had been set to sensationalization. In Paskistan media is enjoying complete independence. There is nothing taboo that could not be discussed.

“There sure have been some misappropriate incidents with some journalists but whenever we are objective, professional and fair then I do not see any problem. Many journalists write for international media and they do not face any trouble. However, there are some limits to some issues in different parts of the world even in the western media like the holocaust cannot be openly discussed,” he said while talking to the conference on Media Responsibility & Independence Index (MRII) organized by USAID at a local hotel.

Elaborating that why media did not fully follow professional ethics, he said media was mostly owner-controlled and editors did not have much say.

Secretary General All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) Sarmad A Ali said media independence could be properly enjoyed in case you used it with responsibility. Sometimes ultra independence creates troubles.

He said news channels rush for break news for improving their rating, ruling out check and balance of the news. On the other hand, print media could be found more responsible as they were more concerned for their image that had been created in a long struggle.

“There is paramount independence these days after the last dictatorial regime but with lack of responsibility, especially in online media. Unfathomably, media mostly tells negative stories. Do we consumers really want to know more negative things only?” he said.

Senior journalist Arshad Zubairi said contradiction of news was like a slap across reporter’s face, which showed that he did not made the news with proper consultation and investigation.

General Manager marketing Dawn media group, Syed Ali Hasan Naqvi said it was easy to criticize electronic media but it needed time to be in the right cycle and we were collectively working on it.

Senior columnist Agha Masood said from Malaysia to America there was some limit for everything. Uncontrolled independence should not be exercised, therefore media needed to be regulated by their owners where crowds had been gathered in the name of professionals.

Senior journalist Lubna Jalal said lack of cross-checking, verification and training had marred news. Beautiful faces were being put on screen, who did not have good education about media and issues.

Senior media person Sabeen Agha said she did not think Pakistani media was responsible. “I went to a channel for interview to talk about hosting a talk show. The relevant person asked me what I had for ‘trashy’ 90 percent viewers. I denied having any such thing,” she said.

She said media was perception maker and breaker. Free media with responsibility was very crucial for flourishing democracy, where everything had turned into entertainment.

Owais Mangalwala said the truth was that media houses were more concerned about business rather than social causes.

“No organization regulates itself. Regulation always comes from other authority. We do not leave our children completely free at home and come to rest that all will get well by the time they would be grown up,” he said.

While introducing MRII in the concluding session, Head of Media Studies and Senior Fellow Marketing, IoBM, Ejaz Wasay said the primary objective of developing the index was to establish a credible metric or measure that could be used to impartially monitor the standing of media in Pakistan at any point in time, in terms of two critical, inter-related aspects, namely Media Responsibility and Media Independence.

“The net scores for Media Responsibility and Independence Index arrived as is 5.46 and 5.76 respectively out of 10, suggesting that the concerned stakeholders believed that although media enjoy limited independence in Pakistan, the degree of responsibility they demonstrate falls even shorter. Also, both scores remain lower than the acceptable threshold,” he said.

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