Archive for the ‘ Journalism ’ Category

Puruesh Chaudhary – Shaping the Future of Journalism

The Future of Business

Industry Futures – How might old industries change and what new ones could emerge?

 

…New territories emerge, which then later disintegrate, either to be engineered or to be evolved into something we may know as ‘new’. This ‘new’ kind of ‘newness’ shapes lives, communities, realities and perceptions…Happy Listening!

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Future of Journalism

Media practitioners, journalists, communication professionals around the world need to build consensus to realize the significance of globalization, in the context of the socio-political gaps, economic interests, cultural and religious values, to strengthen the fundamental rights of individuals and societies.

Needless to say, efficient and transparent mechanisms need to be developed, which can help in determining the quality and implications of what is ‘good’ content and which is ‘bad’. Bringing the debate in the public domain will bridge the unnecessary gaps that are reasons for creating knowledge deficit in the society. Therefore enabling a healthy debate of reasoning and rationale.

In emerging economies, early adaptation of the ICT tools will connect communities pertaining local relevance with those ensuring best practices at a global playing field, hence raising the bar of journalistic standards encouraging not only an effective but an appreciative-well-informed society. It is through this transition, which gives an individual or the society to question and demand response playing a vital role in the newly formed democracies of the world. And because this industry on its own is so rapidly evolving, most fearing change will not able to adapt, compete and coexist in the digital space.

So as Adrian, suggests in his video, that the future of journalism, is for the digital savvy group of people having the ability to analyze massive amounts data; but then the question arises in what context does one critically evaluates such information…

 

Dear Journalist,

When you cover a story, or chase a lead hot or cold is this the way you’re looking for it to be…can this be the way how journalism should be done and offered to the masses or does this framework seem one-dimensional?

Future of Journalism – The Way Forward

Journalism in emerging markets have a unique opportunity to reinvent its traditional model, re-identify challenges, and manifest its achievements in form of knowledge in the public interest at the policy as well as at the grass-root (individual/community) level.

The Boston Globe and the MIT’s Center for Civic Media acquired a grant worth $250,000 dollars from the Knight Foundation, in order to build tools for newsgathering and reader engagement. This is one of the prime examples how new journalism trends will emerge from environments of mutual collaborations.

The industry, at least in Pakistan would need to go back to the Academicians, establish linkages that are very so often discussed but not processed into tangible results. In other words, and very right put by the Secretary of State’s Advisor on Innovation, Alec J Ross ” Innovation comes from taking risks, accepting failures” reason why we see so many venture capitalists investing in start-ups are thriving in the US.

The dynamics of the thought processes with the future generations to come will not be determined by shady propagandist tactics used by special interest groups that encourage fear-mongering that teased the less-informed segments of the society.

As the society is becoming increasingly informed; the ability to navigate through large amounts data by rationalizing with objective narratives will determine the credibility of the journalists. The industry-academics will need to ensure that the concept of journalism in the public interest is not lost in implied tactics of the external factors acting as the influencing force that challenges the credibility and the authenticity of the profession. One methodology of evaluation can be based on the following indices:

1) Content reflecting diversity.

  • Reports that highlight the issue and content that reflects an unbiased viewpoint.
  • Article that are thoroughly researched and well written and are edited by a professional news outlet.
  • Articles that mention people with contrasting viewpoints.

2) Content should serve the need of all groups in the society: public, private and community based.

  • Identify stakeholders: government, security establishment, political parties/groups, minorities, religious groups, cultural groups
  • Understand the history and be familiar with coverage of diverse groups in society. Usefulness of the news information for the public at large
  • Accessibility of the content

3) Content displays culture of self regulation.

  • Applied ethical guidelines and practices that govern the profession and the legal implications and considerations that inform the profession
  • Including information about sources, accuracy estimates, possibilities of bias and voluntary retractions

4) Communicating with fairness and impartiality.

  • Articles that demonstrate the ability to apply tools, concepts and technology appropriate for the presentation of images and information on diversity
  • Minimum 2 or more contrasting views in the story. Use of neutral (unemotional) vocabulary

5) Content displays high-level of trust and confidence with the civil society organization/academia.

  • Credibility can be measured by the number of readers or subscribers of the professional news outlet

6) The content should also reflect the linguistic diversity of the targeted issues.

  • Credit reports that discuss regional (and not national issues) in less commonly spoken languages and that interact with minorities in their local languages
  • The report includes interviews and/or information from linguistically diverse segments of society

7) The content should represent the views of the entire political spectrum and the wide spectrum of the social interests including the weakest segments of the society.

  • Is there a political bias or not?
  • Choice of a topic (or topics) that highlight a minority (or underrepresented) group. Major piece on a minor political group

Although this methodology is/could potentially be debatable, and is open for constructive critique, yet it covers variety of elements that an informed material, in whichever form that may be, can be evaluated and assessed over its quality. The amalgamation of the framework and the assessment criteria of creating quality content ensures the credibility of the content-originator/journalists.

In times where it may seem that the journalism in public good no longer matters, it only reinforces the behavior which will provide favorable circumstances to the bulging youth populations in the emerging economies to challenge the existence of monstrous infrastructure and traditional revenue models by exploring and innovating new wheels of the game.

A Free Press? What if Wapping were Islamabad?

Lord Hunt of Wirral has proposed a revamp of the Press Complaints Commission, which he now chairs. His is a serious and considered response to the complex issues being considered with great dexterity by Lord Justice Leveson’s historic inquiry.

The challenges faced by Leveson and Hunt are daunting – but transposing their activities to Pakistan would prove formidable even for men of such intellect, skill and diplomacy.

Pakistan has witnessed a huge increase in the number of private news channels in the last decade. Previously, the market was monopolised by a single state-owned television network that was heavily influenced by government functionaries and provided limited information access to the public.

Today, the people of Pakistan can watch dozens of news channels and hope to get more credible information in real time. However, the emerging situation has also spawned new questions and challenges that must be confronted to improve the overall quality of journalism in the country.

Many applaud Pakistan’s media for playing a significant role in the reinstatement of the country’s superior judiciary, bringing down the Musharraf-led administration, creating the environment for the restoration of democracy and frequently challenging corrupt politicians and the political system of Pakistan. On the flipside, many condemn it for glorifying militants, spewing hatred and creating despondency among people. Who is right?

Pakistan’s media organisations were in the forefront of exposing ‘disappearances’ across the country and raising many other human rights violations at a time when the U.S.-led ‘war on terror’ was in its full bloom. However, the same news channels also got many other things wrong and failed to create clarity about some vital issues that could have had existential implications for their state.

Pakistan’s decision to side with the United States in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks was frequently criticised by the mainstream news channels. Few of them realised that Islamabad did not have the option of staying neutral in the ‘war on terror’ since it was deeply involved in Afghanistan and supported the Taliban regime that harboured Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network. They also accused the government of fighting the U.S. war at a time when diehard militant factions were using their country’s soil not only to export violence in other parts of the region but also to target innocent civilians and security forces in their own country. Subsequently, the media’s discourse strengthened the militant propaganda and weakened the state’s ability to take the ownership of the war and swiftly respond to the challenge at hand.

Some journalists believe that some high-profile anchors working with leading Urdu-language news channels were pursuing the rightwing agenda on purpose. But a closer examination of the internal landscape of these organisations can also provide us more insight into this phenomenon.

Looking at the growing influence of Pakistan’s private news channels, it is sometimes easy to forget that they are relatively new to the business and have employed young journalists with limited field experience. While these journalists have brought fresh energy to the local broadcast industry and have become intimately involved in policy debates and political and decision making processes, they have also been required to venture into areas which were previously viewed as the preserve of senior journalists with concrete skill sets and proven track record of serious journalism. Some young journalists are now seen as performers as much as reporters. Bombastic talk shows and sensationalised issues keep the ratings of their channels high. So Pakistan’s media stands accused of committing a number of professional felonies. Private news channels are believed to be suffering from the breaking news syndrome – get things fast, not right.

This raises a credibility issue, something that was reflected in the media coverage after the U.S. Navy SEALs launched the Abbottabad operation in May 2011. Some of the leading Pakistani news channels kept displaying a fake image of Osama bin Laden’s corpse for several hours without confirming its authenticity.

The broadcasting of graphic images after terror attacks spreads greater anxiety among people, creating an impression that the local media is unwittingly playing into the hands of militant groups who are doing their best to strike terror into people’s hearts.

Media accountability remains limited. While most journalists remain understandably suspicious of government’s attempts to regulate their industry, they have fallen short of formulating their own code of conduct to display their sense of social responsibility and commitment to quality journalism.

When a senior DawnNews journalist, Matiullah Jan, launched a programme to expose the irregularities of the media in Pakistan, there was a backlash from among his own community. The show was stopped by the management of the news channel and the anchor was excommunicated by some of his close friends.

Mr Jan asserts that the extent of media freedom continues to fluctuate in Pakistan since “it is one issue that is usually determined on political, rather than legal, grounds.” Unlike most of his fellow journalists, however, he feels that media regulations may not be entirely bad for journalists.

Last year, the government revived the Press Council of Pakistan to receive complaints against news organisations. However, the Council has not accomplished much so far and its mandate and mode of functioning is opaque.

The media needs to devise a proper self-regulating code of conduct, acceptable to all stakeholders in the industry, within a proper and obligatory framework that does not only focus on their responsibilities but also extends them security and provides them with freedom of information and expression. The fact that such a code has not been formulated so far reflects the extent of fragmentation and lack of confidence among the media community.

According to one journalist, who attended a recent Agahi workshop in Lahore organized by Mishal Pakistan, the country’s journalists are represented by different media bodies. “Most of these associations,” he contended, “are at cross-purposes with each other. The groups that represent the owners do not speak for the rights of their employees and impose greater responsibilities on them. The media organisations representing the working journalists, on the other hand, view things differently and tend to hold the owners accountable as well.”

Whatever may be said about this problem, responsible journalists mostly understand the rudimentary principles of journalism and do not sacrifice their commitment to their profession at the altar of their organisation’s commercial interests. Technically, therefore, it should not be difficult for them to devise a proper code of conduct.

Perhaps, after they have finished dealing with the British media, Lord Justice Leveson and Lord Hunt should offer their combined talents to Islamabad? They might be there a long time.

(The article originally appeared in the Huffington Post and was co-authored by The Lord Carlile of Berriew)

clear-skies & bright-lights dimmed

There’s nothing fake about Balochistan, nor there is an absolute reality to what we see, hear and delinquently opinionate on. Pakistan is not Lahore, Karachi or Islamabad, it is when you travel to Quetta and from Quetta passing through Qilla Abdullah, Khan Kili, Kili Malik Ghulam Jilani on Chaman Bypass  all the way up to the Pak-Afghan Border’s Friendship Gate; is where you find the real Pakistan.

There’s nothing so ‘friendly’ about the Gate accept for the polio team administering vaccinations to the Afghan children. Something that even the Afghan’s have common in Spinboldak.

– we’re a funny nation – its tragic.

Creating new wars or dwelling over decades old conflict does not by any standard defy the odds of sanity. Staying in one’s own comfort zone and talking about Baloch insurgencies and the transgressions of the Law Enforcement Agencies doesn’t change the fact that, Nasrullah, father of 11 growing up amidst conflict, sarcastically explains how painful it is to live to survive and to support his family. Yet he naively laughs off his agonies and brushes away the scars of hurt, as he drives us all the way to Chaman on the most brutal road – conditioned to leave one with a backache for life.

As we are driven through the most beautiful part of Pakistan, we see real people, real lives, and shattered dreams hopelessly counting down on the days to the life promised once upon a time by the Quaid in ‘47.

“We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play”.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah

Life is plain harsh, there are no two ways of explaining – this should in an ideal world put most fortunate to shame. We have an undeniable capacity to decapitate ourselves from the realities on the ground and look the other only adding to the miseries of the innocent and the neglect. Chaman and Spinboldak share three villages and a mosque at the Pak-Afghan border; what unfortunately we have failed to share and resolve is our grievances and hatred.

We have been easily relating to nations sitting half way across the world, yet we have failed to relate to the ones living right next-door for the all the good and the bad strategic reasons that led to the decisions we fall short of rectifying.

Balochistan, as I see can be narrowed down to a) internal conflict and b) external influence; both which need to be aggressively resolved and addressed. A safe future for the children of Balochistan lies in the decisions need to be taken ‘NOW’ by the authorities in power, who are ready to face the unforgiving lives crafted over the decades of abandonment outside of their luxurious offices.

Afghan Qoumi Movement, is one of the walk-chalking we drove right pass, and with every passing security check post there was a bleak reminder of ‘Pakistan First’.

‘First’ for who?

Many journalists in Balochistan are exploited into working for free, yet they continue to risk their lives into reporting on community-interest stories. Some have gone to the extent of saying that the profession is nothing but ‘Munshirgiri’. In their part of the world they feel belligerently cut-off from the mainstream media. Post 9-11, journalism was a booming career around Pak-Afghan border just like the economy near one in Chaman.

Might I go into details, would be too risky.

Civilized nations find a way to move forward despite kidnapping, killings and extortions. We need to find one for Balochistan and we need to find one fast; And not stay cuddled up in front of the tube deriving our knowledge on the province from considerably the most exhausting panel competing in the National Awards for who screams the loudest.

Someone very wise once put it across as plainly as; Pakistan losing its ‘Unity’ in diversity, ‘Faith’ in itself(ves) and ‘Discipline’ as a people.

‘what a terrorist is, what a terrorist does?’

Continuous broadcast of news covering death, destruction and chaos is leading to a much radicalized – intolerant society.

Rukhsana, mother of a 6 year old, I met at the airport says her daughter knows what a terrorist is, and what a terrorist does. I will not digress from what I heard and it’s impact. Nor am I not going to into the politics of Pakistan nor our Media Industry.  But to point out that our media has gradually desensitized and misled our society into a debate, which is neither in their socio-economic wellbeing nor in Pakistans’ national interest is a fact – far from generalization.

A perspective we fail to acknowledge are the voices that don’t burn our tubes at 8PM every night.

Since the deregulation of the Media and Telecommunications in 2004 in Pakistan, we have become a very informed society. So we know whats happening, why is it happening and now thanks to the breaking news diarrhea we also know exactly when it is happening. But what it has also led to, is that we are unable to process, channelize and transform that information into knowledge either online or offline. The consumption of information is not resulting into any actionable value derivatives.

The fact that everyone wants to see credible, relevant and ethically sound journalism happening in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world, is a reality!

During our course of Media Development Initiative in Pakistan, we have come across several journalists from all over the country,  demanding to be trained and exposed to opportunities where they can connect their content to the global agenda. Content that not only promotes a healthy democracy; but also stand up for public interest, and campaigns for appropriate reforms.

Relevant content development creating knowledge footprint and clusters of information both online and offline, which not only supports but also encourages pluralism and diversity of reportage in Pakistan will play a critical role in the fundamental development of a progressive nation.

Pakistan: Not Free

Freedom House rates Pakistan’s news media “not free” with 61 points on a scale of 0 to 100.

Higher scores signal greater restrictions on a country’s news media. Freedom of the Press 2011 identified the greatest threats to independent media in 196 countries and territories. The report shows that global media freedom has reached a new low point, contributing to an environment in which only one in every six people live in countries with a Free press. In 2010, there were particularly worrisome trends in the Middle East and the Americas, while improvements were noted in sub-Saharan Africa.

Behind the Rating

Media freedom in Pakistan remained constrained by official attempts to restrict critical reporting and by the high level of violence against journalists, Freedom House reports.

The constitution and other legislation, such as the Official Secrets Act, authorize the government to curb freedom of speech on subjects including the constitution itself, the armed forces, the judiciary and religion.

Harsh blasphemy laws have occasionally been used to suppress the media.

The physical safety of journalists remained a major concern. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least four journalists were killed in Pakistan during 2009.

Media Scene

Sharp contrasts define the media landscape in Pakistan. The state’s virtual monopoly on broadcasting has been broken, and many private radio and television stations are on the air. However, threats and harassment of journalists persist. The Committee to Protect Journalists has said that Pakistani journalists “continued to be targeted from many sides.”

In 2002,  militants kidnapped and killed Daniel Pearl, the South Asia bureau chief for the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal, while he reported on links between Pakistani militant groups and the al-Qaida terrorist network. Pearl’s killers documented his execution in a digital videotape that showed his beheading. “That an American journalist working for a powerful news organization could be so easily targeted sent tremors through the local press corps,” the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.

In 2007, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Pakistan among the world’s “worst backsliders on press freedom” — one of the countries where press freedom “has deteriorated the most over the last five years.” Ten journalists were killed in Pakistan in 2006 and 2007.

About 11 percent of the population had Internet access in 2009.

The simmering hostility between Pakistan and India often takes expression as a war of words in their respective media, the BBC notes. Occasionally, broadcasts from the other country have been banned.

There was an influx in the number of foreign journalists in Pakistan following the United States’ declaration of war on terrorism in 2001. Pakistan’s proximity to Afghanistan and its cooperation with the U.S. made it the logical staging point for reporting on the war. Pakistan restricted access to the Afghan border and refugee camps.

 

About the Rating: Freedom House, a New York–based organization that supports the expansion of democracy and freedom, rates the level of press freedom in countries around the world every year. Freedom House assigns each country a score from 0 to 100. The lower the score, the greater the press freedom. In determining its scores, Freedom House assesses the political, economic and legal climate in which the news media operate.

Aid that matters and Aid that has no meaning…

Possible set of emotions and psychological struggle that are caused by an abortion are; regret, anger, insomnia, guilty feelings, shame, isolation, impaired self-confidence, suicidal thoughts, depression, eating disorders, anxiety. When a foreign policy fails, and a drone strategy only infuriates the masses, the natural symptoms of a country suffering from the complexities of a supposed war gone wrong would only go through what a woman may face post-abortion. Then, would ‘Billions in Aid, with No Accountability’ matter when almost over a hundred-and-fifty children have been killed due to drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt since June 14, 2004? And when a country that spends billions on another country still battles between ‘Aid that matters and Aid that has no meaning’.

How Many Dead Children for Profit?

When the Pakistani population fail to see the effects of the aid given – the drone strategy will naturally create hatred and desire for revenge. In Pakistan’s case, the impact is strategically displayed very successfully through Anti-US rallies. But how does any of that justify the killing of a 7 year-old Syed Wali Shah.

So as these strikes have increased to more than two-hundred since the Obama Administration, occurring at a frequency of one every four days – the thought of loss, anger and suffering caused on the ground is a constant reminder of a lost future for FATA’s innocence. Five children and five women were killed in a village of Spinwam in North Waziristan this April. Now, imagine the intensity of monstrous emotions being created as a result of these strikes. Despite enormous funding to the Pakistani elites for protecting US interests, the question then boils down to; does the US truly understands its ally? Vice versa would be, does Pakistan really thinks its an ally beyond the US war in Afghanistan? May 02, 2011 left many questions unanswered and brought a lot of clarity on the state of relationship between the two countries.

Prof. Anatol Lieven, a Senior Research Fellow with the New America Foundation and a Professor at the Department of War Studies in King’s College London explains in his interview to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism that the drone strategy of taking down the Taliban Commanders has had no noticeable effect than US believes it has.

So as the United States ruled out any unilateral action against militant safe havens in Pakistan, a high-level delegation including the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus and General Martin E Dempsey, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff meet Pakistan’s political leadership, Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha in Islamabad discuss a way forward to end the war in Afghanistan.

All this *RHETORIC*, yet the tribal journalists continue to suffer and remain disconnected with the rest of the country.

Mishal Pakistan and Tribal Union of Journalists to Highlight the Social Face of FATA through the AGAHI Initiative

FATA has significant development needs;

  • Per capita income in the region is just $250 per year
  • 60 percent of FATA’s 4-5 million residents live below the poverty line
  • Female literacy in the FATA is 3 percent
  • Widespread Unemployment
  • Weak rule of law
  • Difficult terrain limits access to markets, health services, industrial activities

AGAHI in collaboration with the Tribal Union of Journalists aims to identify and build the capacity of the journalists on social issues and economic opportunities encouraging diversity and pluralism of the Media in FATA and FR.

And with these facts in place effective assistance to Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas still remains a challenge for DC, let alone the drone strategy.

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