Stories about journalism

I am every woman

November 11, 2012 was the first day of my Thomson Reuters journalism training course in Barcelona.  New continent. New world. New people. 16 hours – the time my journey from Karachi to Barcelona took. 16 hours ago was the Karachi, the Pakistan I am from. Never a dull moment in my country. Especially in the newsroom. Even more so in my life. I am surrounded by 10 other energetic, excited and interesting participants. Each a unique story. But the shoddy parts of Karachi, the humidity of that city I call home, and its problems and joys never leave me, even when I walk down beautiful pebbled ...

Read Full Post

Recognising journalists: Only an international trait?

On October 31, the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) Pakistan was awarded a human rights award by a German organisation in a ceremony held in Berlin. The union president, Safdar Dawar, a native of Miramshah, North Waziristan, accepted the award on behalf of the union, his fellow journalists in Fata and all his colleagues who were killed while on duty. When I first met him, he shared with me the story of his abduction by the intelligence agencies in Khost, Afghanistan in early 2000. He was released nine hours later following intervention by some influential people, and after he was ...

Read Full Post

Who tops Pakistan news on social media? (II)

More Facebook pages and better engagement on existing ones seem to be the key trends among Pakistan’s media groups as they battle it out for social media supremacy. While the need to grow in terms of sheer numbers of followers on Facebook and Twitter is still a primary goal, almost all the online media groups have been trying (with varying degrees of success) to increase engagement, particularly on Facebook via visual web rules: Share photos instead of links. Images have better engagement levels. Take a message (or news story) and make it visual. Now that a number of the media groups are reaching ...

Read Full Post

The trouble with academia: Write to impress or write to express?

I’d like to expand on a pearl of wisdom that I received from where most pearls of wisdom originate ─ my grandmother. She is a published Urdu novelist and part-time journalist, but more than that she is an intellectual searching for depth in the meaning of death as she sees herself approaching the imminent reality of it. A more popularly acclaimed introduction would be as Bushra Ansari’s aunt. Lucky for you, I’ve chosen to talk about one of the least morbid topics she happened to discuss with me: Academic writing. Despite having published novels, my grandmother does not consider herself a ...

Read Full Post

From the dark and dreary world of a journalist

Working for a newspaper tends to change a person. I’ve yet to figure out if it’s for the better. I do know that the few odd months before I started working here I was a different person in many ways. These are not only changes you see when you look at yourself in the mirror – the few times you do look in the mirror because the first thing that seems to go is your sense of self-worth – but traits and mannerisms which others point out did not exist before. I don’t know if other newspapers follow the same rule ...

Read Full Post

Media ethics and rape: Have a heart!

Every other day our crime reporter says, “Aray, yahan rape hua hai.” (Hey, there’s been a rape at this place.) or, “Ek aurat ka Saddar mein murder hua hai, story chahiye?” (A woman’s been murdered in Saddar. Want a story on that?) We don’t even stop and think twice before asking, “Nahi, is mein naya kya hai? Mazay ka murder tha?Koi weird detail pata chali?” (No, what’s new in that? Was there something cool about the murder? Did you find out any weird details?) The more gruesome details he can get his hands on, the better. I know it sounds horrible but it spices up the story. For example, there was a case a couple of months ago ...

Read Full Post

Why I fell in love with Saudi Arabia

Moving to Saudi Arabia was such an incredible culture shock. Having been accustomed to a really open way of life in Barcelona, I just did not know what to think. I kept telling myself not to panic and that in time, I would adjust… Eventually I did. Aside from the restrictions I had many wonderful experiences. Saudis are such friendly, hospitable and generous people. I was constantly being thanked for coming to their country and educating their people. I remember one man in particular saying, “I would like to thank you on behalf of our people for coming here and educating us. We need ...

Read Full Post

Let the journalists do their job please

It’s a very thin line on which we journalists stand. It is the dangerous rope of right and wrong. Generally, it is assumed that journalists take sides and that we are either party to one crowd or another, even when we are being very frank in stating the facts as they are. The other day, I reported on the work of a fashion designer while avoiding any criticism on the highly-priced outfits and such, but lo and behold I get a call and am told not to criticise his “bread and butter”. I, for one, have no right to pass judgment ...

Read Full Post

The problem with your writing is…

Over the last one year, I’ve heard the line, “the problem with your writing is… ” so many times that I’m starting to doubt that I even get my ABC’s right. Lately, the problem has been my excessive, overindulgent use of the first-person narrative, which apparently, is a complete no-no in the world of journalism. I can’t really blame anyone — when I get to writing, I get emotional. Whether the story is about something as frivolous as Veena Malik or as grim as target killings, I just have to incorporate my girly emotions, fall prey to the pretty adjectives ...

Read Full Post

Subliminal mockery and the devils advocate

A recent encounter with a firangi journalist made me realise that I have proudly joined the cult of perverse Pakistanis. Anyone who bears an accent and worships another deity must face the ‘us’ and ‘them’ complex. We will, at all times, find or literally pluck out a thread of sublime mockery from well-structured declarations of a love for Pakistan and every time these foreigners show us the positive side of Americano, we want to throw a brick at their Cau-caustic face. The jingoistic journalist started off the session just fine but then started chanting ‘bombs’, ‘bullets’ and ‘rape cases’ in ...

Read Full Post