Stories about journalists

Can writers ever be journalists?

The first lesson they gave me in my first fiction writing class at NYU was: find a wound, pluck it, pierce it, poke at it till it gushes out with so much blood you don’t know what to do with it. Now while you’re lying bleeding, drenched in your sordid sorrow and putrid pain, get a freaking pen from somewhere and write all that s*** down. Okay, they only said, “write from pain” – I’m improvising for effect. But when I apply the same theory to a feature story for The Express Tribune – before I can even get the name ...

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Meher-Mubashir: Time to re-visit ethics

Whether it is the Maya Khan episode or Shaheen Sehbai’s interview on YouTube, journalists have managed to hog all the attention for themselves and have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now, we have the Meher-Lucman video which is trending on Twitter, and is being passed around on multiple social media forums. Yesterday, a video, titled ‘Malik Riaz Planted Interview with Mehar Bukhari and Mubashir Lucman on Dunya’ was uploaded by a user named ‘ivestigativereporter’. This jolted many people who watched in shock as the interview between Meher Bokhari, Mubashir Lucman and Malik Riaz seemed entirely scripted. It all started ...

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The corruption rat race

Viewers often consider anchorpersons as a panacea for evil in Pakistani society because they make efforts to malign corrupt politicians and their notorious designs under the umbrella of ‘best interest of the masses’. However, the fiasco of Dr Arsalan Iftikhar has allegedly exposed some senior journalists and anchorpersons as paid persons of property tycoon, Malik Riaz. Now, the question which a common person ponders over is how dirty are journalists? Following the surfacing of the list with their names as beneficiaries of Malik Riaz’s charity, most journalists are making efforts to arrange talk shows with the investor to clear their records. ...

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When to use or lose identifiers

Ethnicity, religion, sect and gender. Do we or do we not, as journalists, use these as identifiers in a headline or in the introduction of a story when we are reporting on an incident –  that is perhaps a question that every journalist has to ask and the answer is never clear. When is it right to mention ethnicities or religion? Does it add any news value to a story or can it be the catalyst or inciting possible hatred amongst ethnic or religious groups? The question we journalists often ask is that if we do not mention these identifiers, are ...

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Perils of reporting in Balochistan

A senior journalist chose his words very carefully while explaining to a guest who had come to Quetta from Islamabad to compile a report on difficulties and circumstances under which journalists work in Balochistan. “The deteriorating situation is a result of war and terror that Pakistan has been fighting for the past three decades. There is lawlessness in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal regions but Balochistan is the worst affected,” he told him. His fears and calculations were understandable following the multifaceted threats journalists face on a daily basis. Journalists who received threats lodged complaints and said they could not edit the news ...

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Journalism awards and journalists

By several accounts the ceremony for distributing Agahi Awards, Pakistan’s first journalism prizes, at the Pak-China Friendship Centre in Islamabad was a special event. First, because the heads of press clubs from across the country including National Press Club (Islamabad), Multan, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Karachi, Azad Kashmir and Tribal Areas attended it. Second, no top government representative showed up at the event — encouraging organisers to take a major decision. The information minister was invited to the event but the ceremony couldn’t make it to her priority list. An important decision made at the awards ceremony was that in future ...

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Pakistani diplomats and misplaced priorities

Every year one or two groups representing the German Journalists Centre visit Pakistan on a trip sponsored by the Pakistan Embassy. Information such as the aim of the visit, its outcome and the selection criteria is, however, kept confidential.  Before their departure, the group is introduced to the history and culture of Pakistan, along with the ongoing developments in the country, the serious challenges they can face while there and ways to handle them. Recently, Mr Mazhar Javed, the acting ambassador of Pakistan in Germany, accompanied by Mr Ghulam Haider, Press Counselor Pakistan Embassy Berlin, briefed a group of such journalists who ...

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The thick blood of a journalist

Two journalists died on February 22, 2012 in the Syrian city of Homs after Syrian government forces shelled the house that they were staying in. One was an American and a reporter for the British paper, The Sunday Times, while the other was a 28-year-old Frenchman who had his own photography agency. The American journalist, Marie Colvin, was a veteran war correspondent and had just the night before her death sent a detailed dispatch on various western news channels about the deteriorating situation in the city, believed to be the stronghold of the Syrian resistance to Bashar al-Assad. The French photojournalist, Remi ...

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A dummy’s guide for journalists in Pakistan

Two years ago, I took a course in war reporting. In one year, we learned what we could about embedding within the military, media effects, propaganda, and censorship, amongst other things. Most importantly, we learned the basics of all basics: the nine principles of journalism. We were asked to memorise, interpret, scrutinise, and above all apply them in context. In Pakistan, the media has taken on various roles, often acting as analyst, policy maker and even judge.  At times it has lost the entire notion of censorship and theconcept of contextual objectivity (as difficult as that may be). Over the past ...

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Predicament of journalists in Balochistan

Balochistan is often in the news because of its ongoing low-level insurgency, recovery of bullet-riddled bodies, explosions, target killings or the alleged presence of the so-called Quetta Shura. But very few people realise that the province has also become a very difficult place to work for journalists. In fact, ten journalists have lost their lives in the line of duty this year alone. Three of them lost their lives in explosions or after being caught in the crossfire, while the rest were killed in targeted attacks because of their professional work or perceived sympathies with the province’s suffering citizens. Recently, ...

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