Stories about journalists

The right to write: Denied!

Journalism – a profession of disseminating news – has attained the status of an endangered profession globally. Incidents of violence and state sponsored prosecution attempts against journalists have become a de jure way of life for many. Prosecution and persecution to some degree, comes with the territory, if you will. This is unfortunate considering the burden that falls on a journalist’s shoulders. On January 29, 2014, there were several news stories of the Egyptian government’s decision to file charges against 20 journalists working with Al Jazeera on the pretext of risking national security. In my opinion, suppressing the voice of one journalist is akin to suppressing the ...

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Putting journalists behind bars (or in coffins) – the loss is yours!

Last week, a delegation of foreign journalists visited our newspaper’s thrice-attacked office in Karachi, Pakistan. As we hustled to make them feel comfortable while simultaneously trying to explain the newsroom dynamics, one of them asked us in a matter-of-fact tone. “Do you support the current government?” There was a nervous silence as each of us lingered over the question for a few seconds. Until one of my colleagues responded, “We try and support no one. Our job is to report things as is.” All of us nodded in unison. In a simple sentence, she had summed up the essence of what journalists all across ...

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Ladies, the Tehelka sexual assault victim is one we should all learn from

Last month, a young reporter from the news magazine Tehelka, was boarding a lift when she was followed by her Editor, Tarun Tejpal, and assaulted. This happened again the following night and she escaped the lift on both occasions. In two weeks time, the girl emailed the Tehelka management and asked Tejpal, one of the most influential men in the Indian media, to issue an apology. He did it twice, once personally and later officially. He admitted to his crime. The girl’s courage, to over-come the hideous incident and demand her right is commendable; that too despite Tejpal’s attempt to blackmail her earlier. This ...

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Disaster victims are boring, lets cover Bollywood instead

Did you know that the estimated number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is around one million according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)? Did you know that another 1.5 million were affected by floods this year according to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)? There are 1.2 million people in Pakistan urgently in need for winter items this season. I am quite sure that most people are unaware of these statistics. This is because the content on TV channels is driven by sensationalism which is essential to win the ratings race. Hence, we only ...

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Express News attack: Zip your lips or we will kill you

It sounded like thunder. My colleague and I stared at each other for a good 30 seconds, wondering what that noise could possibly be. Then, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. “Maybe someone was moving furniture upstairs”, offered my colleague to my quizzical expression. And then the storm came. Chaos. Panic. Fear. That wasn’t thunder, nor was it people moving furniture; somebody had emptied entire magazines on our office. The Express Tribune was under fire, literally. They say when you are scared, you go numb and every minute feels like an hour. Let me tell you that I have never experienced fear ...

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‘Who did your hair and makeup?’ The mockery that was our oath-taking coverage

Oath-taking ceremonies are usually boring affairs. A bunch of men and women stand up for the national anthem, take the oath and then go home. This is not exactly amazing material for the media – especially television — which is why most outlets focus on more colourful stories. Some of these stories make sense, such as quizzing the elected members on their knowledge of the workings of a parliamentary democracy, while others are just as outrageous as the returning officers’ questions, which the same media members were so very critical of. The segments featuring male members of the various houses focused ...

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Boston Blasts: What happens when the news and social media get it wrong

In today’s highly competitive climate, it seems that the race to reach the finish line first for journalists is more important than how they get there, or if they are even running in the right direction. In Pakistan, as Zarrar Khuhro explains so eloquently in his column, watching news break on local TV channels is only a little less painful than stabbing yourself in the ears with a screwdriver. Here, media outlets that win the breaking news race, finish like sore winners, beating their chests bloody till their sternums are cracked open.  “YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST! DID YOU HEAR THAT? ...

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In memory of Malik Mumtaz Khan

I met Malik Mumtaz Khan, a tribal journalist from North Waziristan back in 2011 in Bannu. At the time, I was conducting a safety and security training for tribal journalists, arranged by the Intermedia, Pakistan. Malik came across as very cooperative and friendly, though not very talkative. He kept rather quiet during most of the workshop, except when it was necessary to say something. Like many things in life, Malik landed at my training session by chance – he tagged along with a few other journalists. Hence, it struck a particular chord, when on Wednesday blaring headlines announced 48-year-old Malik Mumtaz’s death ...

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‘Muni badnaam hui’ is never appropriate on a news channel

I hate watching news on TV, not just because the lead stories in Pakistan are too depressing, but also because their treatment is mainly frivolous. The argument that our electronic news media is young, is years old now. Even if we do buy that claim, sadly there is no sign of growing up. Despite having a body to regulate the workings of our media, the performance of our news channels has always been disappointing. The regulatory setup and channels are to be equally blamed for the low quality. However, a few simple changes here and there can, of course, help set a ...

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The woes of the student-working life

Five months ago when I joined this organisation I assured myself that managing a full-time job along with studies won’t be anything that I will not be able to do. While working in a newspaper can have its perks, the worst thing that happens to you is you never see the light of day – literally. Working late hours the only thing a sub-editor does is sleep in the morning and in my case attend classes in the morning. These past months have been the best and worst so far. Despite the fact that I have dreamily looked at teachers, not been ...

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