National Media Conference on safety, security concludes at CEJ-IBA
Karachi, 21 April, 2017: "I am a woman, not a cup of tea," said Farzana Ali, Bureau Chief Peshawar, Aaj News, to much applause and laughter. She was narrating her response to being told, "Farzana is very good, but she is not hot," as reaction to her television appearance. Ali was speaking on the 'Women in the Media' panel at the National Media Conference organized by the Centre for Excellence in Journalism at the Institute of Business Administration (CEJ-IBA).
The Conference addressed some of the most compelling issues in news media in Pakistan. Themed around 'Digital Media and Journalists Security,' the conference was attended by more than two hundred participants for a second day in a row. The Conference highlighted these issues via panel and breakout sessions. In addition to the public offerings, also provided training modules for practicing journalists.
Commenting on sexual harassment in the panel discussion, TV journalist Tanzila Mazhar said "my media colleagues don't understand what harassment is. Women are being exploited and they don't know they are being exploited." She stressed on the need for women in management level positions.
Analyzing gender issues in media, journalist Imran Sherwani said, "women in media do not play an important role because they are not powerful. Many of them are hired because they are beautiful and you can pay them less." Panelists including Razeshta Sethna of Dawn and Najia Ashar of Aaj TV talked of overcoming barriers and winning respect and recounted their fight to have their voices heard.
In a breakout session on the space occupied by regional media, Lala Hasan of Pakistan Press Foundation said he "does not believe in mainstream media because it does not focus on remote areas." Commenting on the flourishing digital media, Mazhar Arif said that Punjabi and other languages have not been able to make a space for themselves in this medium.
Running parallel to the breakout discussions, CEJ held six training sessions for 120 journalists from across the country. Tailored to the requirements of Pakistani newsrooms, trainings were held on the following topics: Physical security for journalists; multimedia/smartphone reporting; data journalism; social media outreach and digital rights.
In the session, international trainers stressed the importance of digital and physical safety while working on sensitive stories. The sessions also familiarized the trainees with cutting edge developments in journalism to enable Pakistani journalists to tell their stories effectively.
Addressing the Conference, CEJ Director Kamal Siddiqi talked about the memorial wall project that the center wishes to undertake. He said this wall will remember and honour all Pakistani journalists who have died in the course of their work over the past 10 years. "We wish to pay tribute to our fallen heroes," he said.
In his closing speech, Senator Javed Jabbar, who is also a member of the advisory board of CEJ, lamented the falling standards of journalism in Pakistan and hoped that the discussions at the conference would go a long way in addressing this.
Earlier, on the first day of the conference, senior journalists M. Ziauddin, formerly Executive Editor of The Express Tribune, and Zubeida Mustafa of Dawn News were presented with a 'Lifetime Award for Years of Outstanding Contribution to Journalism' in Pakistan. In his opening speech, Ziauddin pointed out that the country has not been able to produce capacity to report in the security atmosphere it finds itself in. "Often the use of the wrong word, the wrong headline, or an innocent mistake gets a journalist targeted."
Elisa Tinsley of the International Centre of Journalism spoke about the shift in journalism due to the rise of digital media and said that everyone in the industry was in a constant learning process. Adding on, Hannah Bloch of NPR said that "those who want to stay (in journalism) learn so there is nothing about age or older journalists being edged out."
CEJ is a platform for the professional development, training and networking of Pakistani journalists and media professionals. It is a collaboration between the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. With an advisory board comprised of some of the industry's most eminent editors, the initiative works towards raising the standards of journalism in the country by catering to the specific needs of Pakistani newsrooms. The National Media conference was made possible by a grant from the US