Monthly Archives: December 2013

Print dwindles, tweet count rises

The Click Age: (L-R) Murtaza Solangi, Nighat Dad, Kamal Siddiqi, Ikram Hoti and Director Bolo Bhi Farieha Aziz discuss future of Pakistani media. Photo by INP.
The Click Age: (L-R) Murtaza Solangi, Nighat Dad, Kamal Siddiqi, Ikram Hoti and Director Bolo Bhi Farieha Aziz discuss future of Pakistani media.  Photo by INP.

How will we be consuming news 10 years down the line, and what shape the newspaper will take in 2024?

With these questions, Kamal Siddiqi, Editor The Express Tribune, opened the session ‘Pakistani Media in 2024’ at the National Media Conference, convened by Individualland Pakistan which concluded Thursday in Islamabad.

Senior journalist Ikram Hoti observed that the media has been an anti-democracy force in Pakistan and hasn’t exposed the mullah, military, and the political right, which he said have caused the most damage to this society. “If it goes on like this, in 2024 it will be called a terrorist media.”

Murtaza Solangi, under whom Radio Pakistan saw many new developments including an active social media presence, said the media influences the society and vice versa. “Today, there are more smart phones in Pakistan than PCs. Print is dwindling and tweet count is rising. The audience are active media consumers today and have their own pressure.”

The state media will either have to reform itself or it perishes, he warned.

Solangi said print’s shape might change but it will remain a source of in-depth coverage and analysis over the coming years.

“Future newspapers might not be on paper but will essentially provide the optimum tools for perspective building. Although future newspapers might have some sections of the breaking stories and updates but primarily they would provide depth and deeper analyses,” said Solangi, who himself has over 27,000 Twitter followers.

The chair, Kamal Siddiqi, said definitions of journalism and journalist are changing due to the social media and the emerging trend of citizen journalism. “Some on social media have more followers than many papers print copies. It’s a wake-up call for the so-called traditional journalists.”

Farieha Aziz, Director Bolo Bhi, dispelled the mainstream media’s impression of social media as a non-serious business. She said the traditional media is moving towards the social media. “Journalists should embrace it; it is here to stay.”

Farieha said investigative journalism is vanishing from the mainstream media but the online media is keeping it alive.

Nighat Dad, Executive Director Digital Rights Foundation, thought social media is facilitating the mainstream journalism today. She highlighted how the social media broke the Bin Laden raid story and how it compelled the TV screens to pick up the Shahzaib murder case.

“Not everything on social media is positive. Good cyber laws can check negativity on online platforms.”

Replying to a question on how to curb hate speech and other negative things on social media, Murtaza Solangi said bans and curbs are not the solution. “Where is the state on social media? To tackle disinformation on social networking sites, the state needs to come up with the right information using the same tools.”

(Published by JournalisnPakistan.com here)

Press clubs to have a national council

Strengthening Press Clubs: Heads of country’s leading press clubs sit on a panel during the 3rd National Media Conference, organised by Individualland Pakistan.
Strengthening Press Clubs: Heads of country’s leading press clubs sit on a panel during the 3rd National Media Conference, organised by Individualland Pakistan.

Heads of various press clubs from across the country have agreed to set up a national council for press clubs to ensure better coordination, says a statement issued by the National Press Club, Islamabad, Thursday.

The meeting picked Arshad Ansari, president Lahore Press Club, as the convener of the council. Presidents of Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan, Sukkur and Abbottabad Press Clubs will work as members of the proposed council.

The team will contact all the press clubs in the country and will also ink a constitution and other regulations for the council. The meeting also announced to hold a national convention of press clubs at Lahore soon.

The announcement came on the heels of a session that stressed need for such a body and called for its establishment earlier in the day.

Speakers and leaders of journalists’ unions were speaking at a panel titled ‘Strengthening Press Clubs’ at the National Media Conference (picture), convened by the Individualland Pakistan.

They said while the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists remains an umbrella organization for journalists in the country, such a body will ensure better coordination among the press clubs and will help resolve issues facing clubs across the country. There is no confrontation between the press clubs and the unions of journalists (UJs) and the proposed council will not run parallel to the PFUJ, they emphasized.

Highlighting press clubs’ role in protecting and promoting democratic values, Imtiaz Faran, President Karachi Press Club, narrated how they were resisting demands to either relocate the press club or stop public demos there, as the club falls in the red zone.

Arshad Ansari, said there has been Section 144 imposed around the Lahore press club for years now to discourage public rallies there. “But we never accepted this restriction, and daily demonstrations tell us that nobody accepts it.”

The panel also discussed ways to overcome financial problems of the clubs. Ansari said Lahore Press Club’s annual budget was over Rs30 million. “Punjab government contributes a mere Rs2.5 million, and we raise the rest through advertising hoardings and other means.”

He said it is shameful that a subeditor gets paid less than a constable in this country, and sought NGO sector’s help in overcoming financial problems of the clubs.

President of the PFUJ Afzal Butt emphasized the need to differentiate between clubs and unions. “Club’s basic purpose is recreation of members whereas a union strives for media workers’ rights.”

But Matiullah Jan took a swipe at the way affairs were being managed at clubs and by the unions. “A club is meant to be just a facility. Its elected body has to exercise its role within the club premises.”

He said corruption is rampant at most press clubs and questioned why public funds are not distributed equally among all the recognized press clubs.

“Unfortunately, clubs are richer and more powerful today than unions, which have lost all their credibility. Clubs should be restricted to their basic role i.e. facilitation of members and the unions should assert themselves.”

Instead of clubs, we should be strengthening unions, Mati concluded.

The chair Saleem Shahid agreed that the profession is faced with all these problems due to its rapid expansion over the last decade.

Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas said clubs are important but should not overtake the unions. He said many union and club members do not fulfill the membership criteria and hence all these problems.

For press clubs, he proposed other ways to generate funds, like enrolling diplomats as ex-officio members, than submitting before the government.

(Published by JournalismPakistan.com here)