Free media and self accountability -The Frontier Post

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The Supreme Court has summoned the Director General FIA, Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), Inspector General Police Islamabad and Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) in a case pertaining to the complaints of journalists. The bench also summoned all four advocate generals and sought a report from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) registrar regarding the status of pending cases of media persons on the next date of hearing. A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ijaz-Ul-Ahsan heard the suo moto notice case regarding highhandedness by the FIA action pursuant to FIRs filed at FIA Cyber Crime Wing Lahore. During the proceedings, Justice Ijaz noted that the court would intervene for protection of journalists’ rights, however, few journalists including Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui, Asad Toor and Amir Mir withdrew their applications. The Court observed that the Constitution guaranteed freedom to the media and any law that contradicted Article 19 of the Constitution would be declared null and void. According to Justice Ijaz, the court would support journalists on the issue of salaries and terminations. The court further observed that the Media was the conscience and voice of the nation during the past.

In fact, Journalism is a very old and sacred profession and Journalists have always paid a huge price for raising voice in the support of truth, righteousness, and justice. Journalists and Journalism had played a leading role during the Pakistan movement and always lived up to the great traditions of their predecessors during the past. The new era technological revolution has transformed the world into a global village, mainly due to massive development through digitalization and rapid flow of information across the globe. Today’s journalism has grown into a diversified industry which encompasses daily newspapers to periodic magazines, from photojournalism to vlogs and from Sports news to war zone live broadcast. Similarly, today’s journalists have a diversified professional career ranging from a simple beat reporter to opinion writer, crime reporter to Parliamentary beeper as well as from a YouTuber to a prime-time news anchor.

Although, media industry has reached its peak, several areas including reporting standard and work ethics need a wholesome review to overcome the liabilities of the profession. There are countless cases of false reporting/ accusations by the so-called journalists/youtubers or vloggers of defaming, abusing, or blackmailing common citizens, government officials or colleague reporters during recent months. Due to such reckless reporting, the media industry has attracted the criticism of the public and developed controversies among the industry professionals.

Pakistani media usually faces pressure from the government aimed at tightening its rope besides growing threats to working journalists from nonstate actors and security apparatus. However, the presence of a vibrant judiciary remained decisive in thwarting such threats up to some extent. It is high time that media organizations of the country must formulate policy regarding journalist criteria, reporting and work ethics to mitigate the emerging challenges due to influx of youtubers and vloggers in the name of social media journalism. The self-accountability and housekeeping by the media organizations would not only limit the government’s intervention but also purify the working environment of the media community in future.