Two conferences and a paper

covering an event with a video camera

File photo, courtesy European Broadcasting Union, alliance of alliance of public service media 

Two conferences this past weekend reminded me of a media conference in Warsaw, Poland, that I attended earlier this year. The Nieman 80th Reunion at Harvard featured intense and thought-provoking discussions on journalism, democracy, human rights, and peace — topics that the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore took forward as well while honouring the work and legacy of a great human rights defender. More on both later. Below, the paper I presented at the Warsaw conference. My take on the topic they gave me, Digital and traditional media – conflict or complementarity?, ties in with the conferences this weekend.  I’m also sharing my report about the Poland conference, Journalists at Media Conference vow to uphold journalistic values, ethics, which references the Conference declaration about journalistic ethics and values and challenges arising from violence, threats, commercial pressures and false information.  Continue reading

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No to vigil-aunties: thousands protest media’s moral policing in Pakistan

A morning show broadcast in Pakistan on Jan 17, 2012, on Samaa, a Pakistani television channel, has catalysed what could well be the beginning of a media consumer rights movement.

In the show, Subah Saverey Maya kay Sath (Early Morning with Maya), the host Maya Khan, charges through a public park looking for dating couples to interrogate. With her is a battalion of other women, who join her in self-righteously lecturing the couples they come across – does your family know you are here, why don’t you meet at home if you are engaged, and, most outrageously, if you are married, where is your nikahnama (marriage certificate)?

When the harassed couples ask for the camera to be turned off, the Samaa team pretends to acquiesce but carries on filming with sound. As several people have pointed out, this intrusive behaviour could result in putting those couples in life-threatening situations in a country where forced marriages and ‘honour killings’ continue to be the norm. Continue reading

Lagay Raho, Media Bhai (Keep At It, Brother Media!)

See article below, posted with this comment by Shaheryar Azhar, Moderator, The Forum: “What is amazing is that people like Kamran Khan, Shaheen Sehbai and then politicos like PMLN (and PPP to be sure as in 1999) and everyone in between have such low opinion and regard for democracy that for all kinds of invented reasons they are ready to sacrifice it at a drop of a hat. They are or unwittingly become instruments of the Army. No one has the mental toughness to ask the difficult questions or patience to let the political process sort out the incompetent and the corrupt overtime. Irony of irony is that, in turn, each of them have themselves been a victim of the same establishment whose line they now toe. What accounts for this short-sightedness? Are they too self-absorbed, too bereft of core beliefs, too egotistically driven, too lacking in wisdom to see the circus of repeating rings! This is a great article by Sadiq Saleem because he is raising the logical issues – one can already see an alternative narrative developing here, which can, one hopes, lead one day to the true practice of the Charter of Democracy.”

Lagay Raho, Media Bhai (Keep At It, Brother Media!)
The News, November 04, 2009
By Sadiq Saleem
On Monday, November 2, thirty-five innocent Pakistanis lost their lives to a terrorist attack. These were ordinary people, standing in line at a bank to receive their monthly salary. They must have gone there with plans of spending that money on their parents, wives, children, brothers and sisters. But for the Pakistani media, especially the TV anchors who have now become the arbiters of what is important and what is not, the death of these poor people was not important. With their usual cast of characters from —Jamaat-e-Islami to Imran Khan to the two Muslim Leagues— the electronic media that day was exclusively focused on the so-called NRO issue.
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