There is no such thing as free media in Pakistan; it’s just a myth. The influential and ruling circles are continuously trying to control media. A large number of start-up news channels have affected the quality of journalism, and the media highlights issues which are not related either to the public or to the viewers.

These views were expressed by top journalists of the country on Saturday as they participated as panellists in a discussion session, titled ‘Kya Media Ko Aisa Hona Chahye’, during the Sindh Literature Festival 2017 under way at Beach Luxury Hotel. The three-day festival has been organised by the Sindh Literary Foundation.

The moderator of the session was Wusatullah Khan, and the panellists were Hamid Mir and Azhar Abbas of Geo News, columnist Aamir Khakwani and Ashfaq Azar of KTN. The panellists described numerous merits and demerits of the mainstream Pakistani media.

“The Sindhi media and the Urdu media have different preferences and priorities because the Urdu media does not cover all issues in Sindh,” Azar said and added that after the lawyers’ movement of 2007, influential circles were trying to control “the black coats and black cameras”.

He said journalists associated with the mainstream media were busy in blaming each other, and professionalism had nearly ended. “The reasons behind the growth of the Sindhi media are that the Urdu media ignores issues of Sindh, especially of the far-flung areas. Besides, most Sindhi-speaking people do not understand Urdu.”

Senior journalist Hamid Mir said most of the people who lived in remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab did not follow the Urdu media and watched regional channels for information. “The Government of Pakistan has never tired to integrate local dialects and languages with the national language.”

Mir said journalists associated with newspapers and TV channels were especially at risk even in the capital city of the country. These journalists are not safe anywhere in any province as they are being picked up from their homes in Balochistan, KP and Punjab.

Another senior journalist, Azhar Abbas, said there were many faults in the current affairs programs and the news content of the mainstream media, but the content could be improved. “Media can’t cover all the problems because of the limited time and space.”

Abbas further stated that nowadays new journalists depended on Whatsapp news or social media information, which badly affected the credibility of the media. “Senior journalists are better, but start-up channels have destroyed their skills and classic journalism as well.”

During the question-answer session, Aamir Khwakwani said there were numerous problems around us, including health issues, illiteracy and violations of human rights, but media houses preferred to highlight only those issues which boosted their businesses. Wusatullah Khan said new channels and newspapers were misguiding the public and people as result did not trust them. –Courtesy The News

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