Posts Tagged ‘ Media ’

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.

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The Missing Link

It’s ironic how the mainstream media deviates from what is important to a 180 million people to what aids individual interests. Sadly, it has become an acceptable way of life that a corrupt politician, misleading opinion-makers and the ‘foreign forces’, are allowed to govern and then destroy the efforts of aspiring youth population to bring change. And when hoping for one becomes a sin, surfacing selfishness and disorientation spreads like a disease.

A country, by the very definition of consequences of any chaos, in this case, which is constant in nature, suffers from Post-traumatic stress disorders. Whether this may be because of the War President or the Drone War President.

Perhaps our own short-term ill-conceived tacit strategies are haunting us back to the Dark Ages.

Since 2008, the Drone warfare has increased radically, there are almost 64 bases across the globe engaging in US drone missions. Currently, positioned in over 14 different countries, some for intelligence gathering purposes and others for targeting ‘populations’ those are ‘sources’ of National Security threat to the US.

One of these frequently targeted area is the North Waziristan, a place I never visited, nor which the Pakistani Army dares to go, clearly many Americans wouldn’t know how it actually looks like either. But regardless of how complicit the US or the Pakistani Government is towards civilian deaths, what is strange that none of the overly exuberant Civil Society Organization has been able to establish Reprieve Pakistan. The only people churning out remotely smart questions and op-eds are the ones not sitting in key decision making boardrooms of legislators and policy-makers.

A question put forward in a documentary produced by Alternate Focus, by an author and an activist Tom Hayden was; “Are these weapons [Drones] keeping us [United States of America] safe, or do they just incite further terrorist attacks? And is their use a violation of the Geneva Conventions?”

According to the Geneva Convention, most serious of crimes are termed grave breaches, will the drone strategy be termed as one? If so how far, will one go to distort the lines  – even further between the combatants and the civilians…

Why Pakistan is an easy target and is usually not a hard nut to crack; well that is mainly because we critically remain in a self-sustained state of anarchy and inefficiency.

The combination of the two defines the very nature of how the country is perceived and dealt with.  According to a few professors in Israel, the price of anarchy is by now a standard measure for quantifying the inefficiency introduced in games due to selfish behavior, and is defined as the ratio between the optimal outcome and the worst Nash equilibrium.

Even though Imran Khan’s Tehreek-i-Insaaf portrays itself as a likely political force, which will act as a restraining factor and influence the scale of corruption in the country, yet the reality remains that the incumbent disease is widespread and systemic in law enforcement agencies, in the offices of the public service etc etc.

A country with massive power failures, leadership crisis, fanaticism, water-and-what-not shortages we really fancy our ‘long marches’ or as my friend put it over dinner ‘long drives’. Such actions only portray the level of commitment of these so-called power influences to this nation. The choices and then the priorities are all dangled up in an elusive dream.

Its 2012, as India goes into celebrating its first and the European region into marking its 10th year of Polio free certification, Pakistan is still battling possible travel restrictions over the virus. And even more absurdly, with the Taliban in the Waziristan creatively linking the predator drone programme to the polio vaccination of over 200,000 children in troubled region, there’s a possibility that thousands of families will be at the risk of being missed out during the inoculation campaign.

Who really decides for over a 180 million people, when each pillar of the state is losing its supposed grace?

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.

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.

“Murdochracy” – a case in point on media ethics

News of the World, published by News International and an ancillary to the News Corp, now defunct amidst allegations of phone-hacking and corrupt practices has put an end to what Martin Bell claims as “Murdochracy”.

Rupert Murdoch known for outrightly supporting the Iraq war and admitting to using his own media companies for shaping public opinion; tarnishes the integrity of the journalistic community and the profession itself.

“An honest corporate apology must include two parts. One is an expression of regret to the victims of the corporation’s misdeeds. This, News Corp. has done. The other is an honest acknowledgment of what and who caused the wrongdoing, a taking of responsibility by those in charge. This, News Corp. hasn’t even approached, nor does it appear likely to.”

Opinion L.A. – July 19, 2011

Did the ‘media baron’ really had no clue as to what was going on? In his defense…

“Perhaps I lost sight of [the News of the World] because it was so small in the general frame of our company” was what the owner [R. Murdoch] of one of UK’s largest selling tabloid, employing almost 200 people had to say!

Journalism, however becomes a joke…

Timeline: The Fall of Journalistic Ethics

August 8, 2006:  News of the World’s royal editor Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire arrested over claims of intercepting messages sent to the members of the royal family

January 26, 2007: Goodman and Mulcaire plead guilty and are put in jail for four and six months respectively. Andy Coulson, the then editor resigns – claiming he knew nothing about the unethical practice.

June 15, 2010: News Corp places a bid worth £7.8 billion for over 60% of BSkyB. BSkyB rejects 700-pence-per-share offer and jacks it up to more than 800 pence.

January 21, 2011: Andy Coulson resigns over phone-hacking scandal from his position as a communications director at the Downing Street.

April 5, 2011: NoTW’s former news editor Ian Edmondson and chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck arrested over suspicion of conspiring to phone-hacking.

July 4, 2011: Reports of Mulcaire hacking into Milly Dowler, a murdered schoolgirl’s phone surface. Deleting voicemails after she went missing in 2002.

July 6, 2011: David Cameron, British Prime Minister announces a public inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.

July 10, 2011: NoTW publishes its final edition

Murdoch flies to London to take care of matters.

July 13, 2011: News Corp withdraws its bid for BSkyB.

July 15, 2011: Head of operation News International and Editor NoTW during Dowler’s phone hacking, Rebekah Brooks resigns.

July 17, 2011: Paul Stephenson, Chief of the Metropolitan Police resigns over links to NoTW’s former editor Neil Wallis. Brook is arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and corrupt practices, later bailed.

July 18, 2011: Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates resigns. Yates refused to reopen police investigation into the hacking scandal back in 2009. Sean Hoare, NoTW’s former reporter, the first person to publicly allege that Andy Coulson knew about phone hacking, found dead. Reasons unknown.

July 19, 2011: Rupert Murdoch, son James, and the former editor of the News of the World Rebekah Brooks appear before MPs on the phone-hacking scandal…

Would scandals such as these open more debate to the limited ethical systems implemented by the media owners and observed by the journalist community. Or many news organisations of the likes will continue to pose a direct threat to the public interest, while treading on Journalism ethics and standards in the realm of the 1st Amendment.

Target and Result: No Data

 

Quarterly Progress and Oversight Report on the Civilian Assistance Program in Pakistan

The U.S. Civilian Assistance Programme to Pakistan fails to measure the success of its various projects in the country.  According to its quarterly report, which was recently released, the indicators required to measure the success of these projects remain missing from its assistance programme, which were supposedly to be identified by the US Embassy. Three years down and with almost 4 billion dollars already spent since 2009 on the programme, the environment in Pakistan towards the U.S. is as hostile as it was post 9/11.

The assistance programme aims to support high-impact, high-visibility infrastructure; focused humanitarian and social services; and government capacity development, and then there is a shift in funds as the need arises and is determined by the USG in consultation with the GOP. But what this assistance programme doesn’t aim to do is to create a parallel public focus from within Pakistan on issues, which are relevant to their existence; even if it did, the approach is dealing with it at the surface as the problem lies with our institutions that lack the capacity to address deep-rooted issues despite the funding and the necessary linkages.

The areas where USG implements these project through the USAID, most of its partners are already bad storytellers not that the ‘AID is any different; they are far worse hence the strategic way of communicating the relevance of these projects in the targeted sectors that they operate in is often diluted with the cases such as “Davis’es” of USA and the “Qadri’s” of Pakistan, the fact of the matter here would be that situation such as these will continue to arise-so one of the core aim of each project/USG/USAID should be to communicate to the people of Pakistan that the money which is being spent through these projects on the assistance is coming out of the American taxpayers pocket, and that too not in a way that challenges and questions an average Pakistani’s ability to meet his/her own needs, but to develop a sense of realization that enables them to react constructively towards their basic rights.

 

Global Risks 2011 - Sixth Edition

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2011, one of the three important clusters of risks beyond the Economic disparity and global governance failures is the “Water-Food-Energy” nexus. According to which, shortages can lead to social and political instability, geopolitical conflict and irreparable environmental damage. The rapid increase in population will put unsustainable pressures on resources in Pakistan, despite having realtime factual data on the three, the debate that needs to be created on these issues within the media to bring them into public focus is far from ever happening. Yet the level of communication and advocacy strategies required for the emerging crisis out of the inter-relatedness of the nexus will be critical in raising awareness for the value of water, renewable energy technologies and agricultural production practices within the Pakistani society.

As of December 31, 2010, $3.931 billion in FY 2009, 2010 and 2011 fund were obligated to support the assistance strategy; of this amount, $233.8 was obligated for energy, $225.6 for agriculture and a staggering $298.5 for water. And if this were to be translated into the public debate it would mean nothing less than a “void”.

Risk in focus 3: The water-food-energy nexus

For instance, not much content has been created over the past three years on education especially the areas where the AED was operating in, had that been the case, it wouldn’t had taken the USAID OIG this long to make up their minds over suspending the partner’s operation in Pakistan. The livelihood development programme in the upper region of FATA, where the mission had no baseline data to determine the progress of countering the influence of extremism, is yet another example. Consequently, the assistance programme suffered greatly as it lacked a strategic content integrated approach to it, in other words it lacked the knowledge that could have been as a result of an outreach support from within Pakistan that could have put the most relevant challenges in the spotlight.

So as the OIG expects to conduct four performance audits and one financial audit for the remaining FY 2011, programmes such as the Pre-STEP, Firms, the Energy and Efficiency Capacity are in the waiting of being evaluated.

And in spite of such overarching principles and priority programmes; almost everything in Pakistan tends to be politicized so it’s either a conspiracy or a propaganda, the civilians are normally found religiously lost in the debate over the two.

So if the assistance strategy, that as it may seem strengthening the partnership with the Pakistani people is often looked as impediments to the country’s economic growth and social stability. Meanwhile the media falls short of creating any content whatsoever upon pre-identified local priorities just as the embassy tries to realign the indicators required for the ‘AID to measure the impact of it’s projects in the country.

 

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