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PML-N’s Relations with the Press and Media


Fakiha Hassan Rizvi
JournalismPakistan.com
May 26, 2013

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League –Nawaz (PML-N) is geared up to govern Pakistan, under the leadership of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. Third chance to grasp the throne, inevitably, precipitates multiple hopes, expectations and above all, renewed political acumen.

A substantial mandate and favorable public opinion has made Nawaz indebted towards the nation. Members of the civil society appreciate his humility, however, in my opinion, this should have been an obvious outcome, keeping in view the degree of trust that the nation bestowed upon him. Several factors contributed to his victory. Among the long list, projection given to PML-N by the media stands out.

Few months before the elections almost all the television channels made their prime time slot anchor persons sit in the Metro bus with Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, the then Chief Minister of Punjab province (and hopefully the new one as well). Three exclusive interviews were given by Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to a single private television channel in 2012.

On the other hand, his younger brother always enticed media’s eye with his fiery rhetoric and unique speeches studded with rhythmic abstracts from the poems of Habib Jalib. Shahbaz even encountered the ‘youthful Tsunami’ under the captaincy of Imran Khan and organized events like Youth Festival to get Pakistan’s name in the Guinness Book of World Records. The partnership of Guinness World Record with the Punjab Youth Festival was peculiar and a rare accord in the country’s history. Whatever the reasons, it provided PML-N immense ‘media exposure’ before the formal electioneering campaigns began.

A glance at the past explains that the present-day press in general had been quite sympathetic towards PML-N in the context of party’s relations with the media during its previous tenure. During 1999’s Nawaz had become increasingly intolerant and frequent attempts were made to muzzle the media. Journalists were harassed and victimized during 1988-99.

– Mahmud Lodhi (a Lahore-based journalist), was picked up and held in illegal custody for two days. He was inquired about his involvement with a BBC team filming a documentary on the rise and wealth of the Sharif family.

– CIA police raided the residence of Idrees Bakhtiar, staff reporter of the Herald and Karachi-based correspondent of the BBC. This was the fate of journalists and media professionals associated with international media outlets like the BBC.

Those affiliated with national or regional publications were gagged more severely.

– The owner of The Frontier Post, Rehmat Shah Afridi, was arrested in Lahore on April 2, 1999. The Peshawar-based Frontier Post was critical of government’s policies.

– Najam Sethi, the Editor of Friday Times was arrested from his house in Lahore in the most unethical and humiliating manner reportedly on the orders of Nawaz Sharif. Later, Nawaz Sharif reportedly asked the then Chief of Army Staff General Musharraf to charge Mr. Sethi under the Pakistan Army Act for being a traitor.

– The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a press freedom organization, said on June 1, 1999 that it was conducting an investigation into a “hit list” prepared by the Pakistan government that had names of 35 prominent Pakistani journalists. According to reports received by the CPJ, the federal government had decided to establish a special media cell comprising officials from the police, Intelligence Bureau and the Federal Investigation Agency to punish journalists, who had been writing against the government.

The aforementioned examples don’t indicate PML-N as a tolerant party when it comes to the press. It shouldn’t be forgotten that ‘if’ Nawaz believed in a free and impartial national media, he could have stopped dictatorial boots from coming in the political arena of the country for the third time. The army could have taken over the PTV station at that time as it was the only broadcast television channel then. Had there been networks like Geo TV and more space for journalists to express their opinions, things would have been nearly impossible for General Musharraf.

PML-N needs to revise the past acts against the media and press. The party shouldn’t forget what the media has done to make its success certain in the general elections of 2013. In the latest article published in Newsweek, which considered Nawaz to be the most significant leader in Pakistan’s history after Jinnah it has been suggested that the PML-N should avoid its over-responsiveness to the media and be more logical. Among other obvious indicators of good governance, PML-N’s relations with the press and media would be under stringent observation this time.

(The writer is a student of BS Mass Communication at the University of the Punjab and blogs at http://www.fakihahassanrizvi.wordpress.com)

 

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Cyberspace Reporter Versus Earthly Reporter


Difference between ‘Reporting in the Virtual World
and
the ‘Physical World’

By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi 

Abstract

This report will succinctly identify and explain the differences between reporting in the real world and in the virtual world. To test the differences, experience of reporting in both the cyberspace and physical world is presented. The differences are arranged in the themes of, data gathering, organizing the report, writing and publishing. Conclusion ascertains that differences lie mainly during the stages of ‘data gathering’ and ‘publishing’.

Introduction:

The report aims at identifying the major differences or divergence between data gathering, organization, writing and publishing, while reporting events in the real world (physical world) as opposed to Computer Assisted Reporting and Research through an online medium (virtual world).

Rose (1995) concisely describes the differences in the internet/virtual/cyberspace and the physical world by arguing that the Internet doesn’t host a ‘new set of population’. Whosoever uses the internet is also connected to the real world, somehow or the other. Consequently, the online providence of information reflects events in the real world. [1]

However, Susler (2001) justifies major differences between the virtual and real domains by taking the support of ‘Cyberpsychology‘. Internet is psychologically distinct due to its characteristics of ‘anonymity’, ‘variation in skill levels’, ‘absence of geographical boundaries’, ‘option to change appearance/identity that leads to deception. [2]

Kolodzy (2006) discussed the two reporting techniques in the context of ‘convergence’ that distinguished online news from the print medium by emphasising on ‘interactivity’, ‘hyper links‘ and ‘multimedia’, which allows online journalism to ‘guide’ and ‘tell’ more than any other medium of communication. [3]

Dueze (1998) mentions that the online reporting of events is more complex as; [4]
deuze2

He presented a model for online journalism in 2003, explaining that online reports leave more room for dialogue between the reporter and the reader, it is instrumental and concentration is centred upon ‘public connectivity’. On the other hand, traditional journalism concentrates editorial content through orientation and monitoring. [5]

Conclusively, the Cyberspace reporter is the creator and controller of the content, with the luxury of ‘self-publishing’ at his or her disposal. The traditional reporter is bound to follow the editorial policies of the news agency/print media outlet that he/she is working for.
Dueze’s model for online journalism:

Deuze2


Web Journalism: The Use of Blogs as tools for Reporting

Although social interest networks like Facebook, information network like Twitter, simple html websites and blogs, all are potential reporting tools in the virtual world. However, the report focuses on ‘Blogs’ only.

In 2009, the executive director of Committee to Protection Journalists, Joel Simon, said that “bloggers are at the vanguard of the information revolution and their numbers are expanding rapidly”. The Royal Pingdom (a forum that looks at the uptime-monitoring needs of 90% of the companies in the world) estimated that 70 million WordPress blogs shall be created by the end of 2011. In March 2012, the ‘nielsenwire’ reported that over 181 million blogs have been tracked around the world. The exponential rise in blogging is followed by citizen or participatory journalism, especially in countries where traditional media fails to present the views of the masses.

A specialist blogger (trained journalist having a blog of his/her own) applies the journalistic practices and values like objectivity, fairness, balance, coherence and news norms, such as timeliness, human interest, proximity, unusual nature, conflict, impact and helpfulness.

On the other hand, an undifferentiated blogger (not specializing in the field of Journalism) is likely to deviate from the journalistic norms. A citizen blogger may provide a highly subjective account, owing to some of the limitations and personal bias, while reporting an event.

Consequently, after content itself, it is the presentation of the content in the online report that counts. The presentation is likely to differ, according to the bloggers skill and familiarity with standard journalistic techniques of reporting.

 Experience: to Test the Differences

The experience of covering a seminar in the real world and the one that was mediated through a video clip on ‘vimeo’ can give a clear view of the points at which a Cyberspace reporter and Earthly Reporter diverge.

Reporting in the Physical World:
A seminar to be reported in the real world is likely to follow this pattern:

earhtly reporter

 Problems that influence reporting:

The tape recorder might not record properly as reporter is a participant, he/she is part of the audience. The hiss and noise in that setting is likely to obstruct the reporters concentration. This was removed by appointing two reporters so that points missed by the other could have been covered.

All the speakers weren’t available at the end of the session. The reporter had no other choice than to miss out details that were to be confirmed from those speakers, instead of misreporting them.

A photograph was taken by another participant at the event for the report.

Reporting in the Virtual World:

A cyberspace reporter is likely to follow this pattern:
cyberspace reporter

 CONCLUSION:
The highlighted differences represent the distinction between a Cyberspace reporter and an Earthly Reporter. Note that both the events were more or less similar, but the reporting processes of data gathering and publishing differed in both the worlds.

References:

[1] Rose (1995) Net Law: Your Right in the Online World

[2] Axelrod (2009) Violence goes to the Internet: Avoiding the snare of the net, Charles C Thomas Publisher

[3] Kolodzy (2006) Convergence Journalism: Writing and Reporting Across the News Media, Rowman & Littlefield.

[4] http://cybra.lodz.pl

[5] Veglis & Siapera (2012), The Handbook of Global Online Journalism, John Wiley & Sons.

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Journalism Notebook (Photo credit: planeta)

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mappa_blog (Photo credit: francescopozzi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on December 22, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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Media and the Coverage of ‘Terrorism’


Director, Institute of Communication Studies, Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz addressing the audience, Seated: Left (Farrukh Sohail Goindi), Center (Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami), Right (Sajjad Mir)

Communication technologies have provided an instant and easy access to global issues and ‘terrorism‘ is in the list of ‘most frequently exposed’ topics. The Institute of Communication Studies, keeping in view the sensitivity and complexity of the link that media has with the portrayal of terror, arranged a seminar on November 8, 2012. The seminar was presided over by the Director of the Institute of Communication Studies, Prof. Dr. Ahsan Akhtar Naz. In his preliminary note, the Director opined that terrorism took a lot of space in the global media after the 9/11 attacks. According to him, private television channels in Pakistan give more coverage to certain events that are a consequence of terrorism while there are some which are never brought into limelight. He suggested that policy makers at media institutions should identify and eliminate this difference in coverage. Farrukh Sohail Goindi and Sajjad Mir also shared their views with the students. The Chief Guest for the seminar was Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami.

While expressing his opinion about the ‘war on terror’, Farrukh Sohail Goindi said that there was no inquiry about the 9/11 attacks. Al-Qaeda was accepted as a terrorist organization. He told the students that during a visit to the United States even a person driving a Taxi asked me about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. ‘Everyone was concerned whether or not Osama Bin Laden has access to Pakistan’s nuclear assets and I used to chip in a lighter vein that he doesn’t, but the US can get an access to them’, said Goindi. Discussing the issue of media portrayal, he said that Osama Bin Laden was a freedom fighter when he was fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan for the ‘US interests’. Farrukh Sohail Goindi was of the opinion that Western media was following the agendas of US imperialism and Pakistani electronic media is also helping them to impose their opinions. He concluded with an interesting analogy, “for me the media can terrorize more than any General of NATO or a leader of Al-Qaeda and I call those ruthless terrorizers ‘General BBC‘, ‘General CNN’”.

Sajjad Mir before sharing his views stated that he couldn’t disagree with Farrukh Sohail Goindi. According to Sajjad Mir, the battle of left versus right has been eliminated, the world in gradually diving into the cyclone of ‘corporate culture’. He considered media a part of the capitalist system. Sajjad Mir discussed the manipulative strategies employed by the media in order to frame specific people as terrorists. He highlighted the prevailing terrorism in Mexico, which has never been given so much attention. Recalling an interview with the BBC, Sajjad Mir told the students that he was asked 20 years ago about the definition of a ‘fundamentalist’ and he defined it as a ‘political, economic and social resistance movement against imperialism’. In his concluding note, Sajjad Mir said that for achieving fairness and balance in the coverage of terrorism it is essential to get rid of media imperialism.

The Chief guest of the seminar, Mujeeb ur Rehman Shami advised the students to fight intellectually and compete with the world by gaining knowledge. He urged them to conduct research studies on the coverage of terrorism by the media.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Reporting at the Institute

 

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