under a grant awarded by USAID Citizens’ Voice Project, organized a seminar with Punjab Chapter of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) titled “Hardships Faced by Media in the Line of Duty” in Lahore on Thursday, March 26, 2015.
Distinguished speakers discussed in detail the hardships and challenges of media fraternity and possible solutions in the seminar.
Senior Journalist Mr. Tehseen Mustafa highlighted the economic hardships faced by media workers. He said, “Journalists in Lahore and across the country are facing numerous hardships simultaneously, but financial hardship is at the top of the list. The delay in the implementation of 7th wage board award is adversely affecting the rightful payments to journalists for services rendered against working hours. Unless the issue is resolved, it will keep affecting the performance of media workers.”
Mr. Ajmal Jami, Senior Anchor Person, Dunya TV, while shedding light on the challenges of working in electronic media added, “The functioning of the electronic media is heavily influenced by management and owners who have no journalistic background and lack the understanding of the sensitivities related to this field. Media workers are compelled to work under controlled news room environment, influenced greatly by media owners and have to comply with the policies of the organizations. This not only affects the credibility of journalists, but has also given rise to news sensationalism for higher ratings.” He further added that workers in electronic media are facing similar problems related to finances as print media. Government and media organizations must resolve the problem at the earliest in the light of 7th wage board award.

On the issue of improving the collaboration between political dispensation, government institutions and media organizations, Mr. Tanveer Shehzad, correspondent Voice of Germany said, “Many a times, media workers face hurdles in the coverage of the event due to lack of coordination between media organizations and other institutions of the state. These workers face inappropriate treatment from these institutions while carrying out their duties. Also, they should be capacitated by the media houses in their respective beats. It is a common practice that a reporter assigned to crime beat also covers the culture beat, hence, lacks specialization in both. Capacity building of journalists is the key to objective, responsible and credible journalism.”
Mr. Shehzada Irfan, Senior Correspondent Jang newspaper, calling attention of concerned authorities to the issue of security of journalists in field said, “To ensure safety of journalists in the field, government must bind the media owners to provide safety gears to their field staff. It is such a sorry state that the equipment media workers use in the field is insured, yet the life of the journalist in the field is not protected. Journalists’ should speak up for their rights. If the organization is asking of them to work in the conflict zone without safety gears and insurance, they should refuse.” He added that considering the law and order situation in Pakistan, media workers should be capacitated in terms of conflict reporting and should be trained to operate in such situations.
Mr. Salman Abid, renowned journalist from Lahore discussed the collective human and social rights situation in the country. He said “Challenges for media fraternity exist across the globe but the primary difference is stronger institutions in the western countries. To meet the challenges of the community, it is vital to empower the institution rather than empowering an individual. In addition, ethical practices should be adhered to by the media and culture of sensationalizing news should be curbed by the journalists’ unions through strict regulations.”



A video conference on the theme of “Enabling Environment for Free and Responsible Media” was held on Thursday, January 29, 2015, by Institute of Business Management (IoBM), a partner organization of USAID Citizens’ Voice Project. The Conference was aimed at seeking opinions of stakeholders regarding supporting media for citizens in Pakistan through creating an enabling environment and what steps can be taken to do so

The “three-station” videoconference brought together distinguished media and business personalities, media educationists and representatives of APNS. Mr. Arif Nizami, Editor, Pakistan Today, Mr. Zahid Malik, President and Editor-in-Chief of Pakistan Observer, Mr. Matiullah Jan, Anchor Person, Waqt News, Mr. Sarmad Ali, Secretary General APNS, Dr. Tanvir A. Tahir, Executive Director APNS, Dr. Hasan Sohaib Murad, Rector UMT, and Ms. Shahida Kazi, Dean Jinnah University (former Head of Media at IoBM) participated in the two-and-a-half hour long discussion.
The focus of the discussion, also attended by the Deans of the colleges at IoBM, was on key factors necessary for close collaboration between media and citizens. Speakers and panelists dwelled on the role of media and civil society in ensuring good governance, need for unity among the media establishments, importance of democratic values for national development, role of NGOs, media laws, overall legal framework and media’s responsibility towards itself and citizens.

The panelists and participants found the video conference to be extremely useful. Both Mr. Arif Nizami and Mr. Zahid Malik urged the Rector Mr. Talib Karim, to have similar meetings in future, so that healthy discussion can take place in a spirit of professional collaboration and open exchange.

Mr. Karim, in his closing remarks, applauded the speakers and panelists for their forthright comments and valuable suggestions. He also thanked the Higher Education Commission for allowing the use of the HEC’s Learning Innovation Division conference hall in Islamabad, as well as the University of Management and Technology (UMT), for making their facility available in Lahore.
The event was also attended by students and faculty at UMT, Government College University in Lahore. The knowledge imparted among the students participating in the conference representing the universities in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore will help sustain the intervention.
The Video Conference contributed towards the overall objective of strengthened, impartial and responsible media reporting in Pakistan in terms of knowledge sharing regarding ways in which civil society can provide an enabling environment for the media in Pakistan.