• National Symposium highlights media role, ethics
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National Symposium highlights media role, ethics

Digital technologies have the power to affect everything from personal relationships to authority races in the world. It also altered the nature and functions of media in Pakistan-reinventing age-old practices of public communication and, at times, circumventing traditional media and challenging its privileged role as gatekeeper of news and entertainment. The digital age, where publishing and broadcasting information have proliferated far beyond daily newspapers and radio and television stations, only complicates these dynamics of mistrust. Corrupted information and half-truths seem to be everywhere, many citizens’ sense, and news media outlets like almost all large institutions in today’s society face increasing skepticism. In the era we are living, news and information are increasingly consumed in personalized ways on commercial platforms, and every journalistic story must compete for attention amid an overwhelming sea of what is generically being called “content.” We stand at a moment in a society where the journalistic ethical codes that known for decades are now under tremendous pressure, as the underlying business model continues to erode. Department of Communication and Media Studies University of Sargodha (UoS) has taken the initiative to remind the actual role of media by organizing two days national symposium on ‘’Roles, Responsibilities and Ethics of Media in Pakistan’’. This was the very first unique event in its nature where renowned Field Journalists, famous Analysts and Academic figures from across the country participated in the debate on different themes like Social Responsibilities of Media, Media Ethics in Digital Age, Issues and Practices of Contemporary Media and Traditional and New Media: laws and Issues. The worthy Vice Chancellor of Varsity Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Acting Dean Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Law Dr. Nawaz Mahsud and In-charge Department of Communication and Media Studies Noman Yaser greeted the venerable guest speakers of the symposium before opening the discussion. Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA) Absar Alam while addressing the audience in concluding session said that media and anchors should pursue the set rules and ethics of PEMRA in order to establish they represents a civilized nation. He added that institution (PEMRA) was not being given protection and space to work with autonomy however we have imposed fine 137 times, issued 221 show cause notices including 11 notices to anchor persons and suspended transmission by 11 times on violation of the rules and ethics from different media outlets . He further added that more than 500 cases are still pending with different courts of Pakistan. Alam stated that professional standards have dropped within the media outlets that shrinked the credibility of news media. We want British standard of freedom but we have some irresponsible media outlets that have to be matured and it will take some time, he further added. Senior Journalist and anchorperson Fahad Hussain told the audience that Pakistan as a nation is drowning down in literacy, poverty and proper nourishment rate where 46% of the total population does not have hand washing facilities at home with soap and water, 23% of households have no garbage collection system, 88% of diarrhea diseases are attributed to unsafe water supply and every year 39000 kids under the age of 5 die due to diarrhea. Pakistan’s population is expected to stay youthful for next few decades while by 2020, age (15-24) will increase by 20% where the 2050 median age will still be around 33% and Pakistan may become world’s fourth most population state. However youth bulge will need education and jobs empowerment, he added. Hussain stated that journalism will be overtaken by unmet aspirations of viewers and if media changes, it should plug into aspirations of youth where it returns to the fundamentals of fairness, accuracy and process of verification. While addressing the audience, Director General (DG) licensing PEMRA Javaid Iqbal said that electronic media which is long out of its infancy, now needs to work by implementing the set code of ethics for broadcasting. ‘’ with more influence comes greater responsibility’’ he added. Iqbal further added that PEMRA is an independent authority with no control. Every time authority takes actions against violation of conduct, media owners and practitioners obtain stay orders from courts. Well-known analyst Imtiaz Gul addressed on the role of media in the age of geo-politics and geo-economics highlighted the task of media in obtaining the set political and economic goals of the South Asian countries through media propaganda. Political and socio- economic strong states will rule the world in coming era while it only can happen with cooperation of media ‘’ the fourth pillar of the state’’ he added. He further added that media has played vital role in spreading and preserving the democratic values foreign policy, war against terrorism in addition with representation of general public. Renowned international relations specialist Adnan Rafiq while speaking to audience on the topic of media, democracy and social change in Pakistan emphasized to formulate opinion on the basis of evidence and research by counter checking the events or issues. He added that in this decade, many key trends have been evolved including urbanization, middle class rise and expansion, youth bulge and technology. Youth is the beneficiary and major user of new technology and gives a path way to poorer, this is how change takes place in the society, he further added. Famous columnist Aslam Khan talked about traditional media versus social media. He told audience that media cannot survive if it remains un-biased but to present true and clear picture of the events or issues is the real journalism. Audience, users and viewers are free to opt for the medium selection pertaining to their needs whether they picked traditional media or new media. International development professional and political analyst Rafiullah Kakar focused on social media ‘’ a bane or boon for the millennial. He discussed positive and negative aspects of social media. Kakar added that no authority but the users can control social media if the shared information consists of facts and figures with accuracy. Famous Journalist Fauzia Kalsoom Rana addressed on mass media role in public awareness. She stated that now a days, media focuses on the political mileage and ranking issues by ignoring the public service messages and the societal evils. She added that Media should play its role to inform and educate at every level as it is the primary responsibility of the media. However, media is playing positive role in stressed environment which gives a hope for better future, she further added. Academic figure of media studies Dr Irum Sultana while addressing on ‘’the media ethics and responsibilities and where values and culture meet’’ said that to put media aside is not possible in the modern age when media is transmitting and generating the cultural values from one to the other generation. She added that where media has some strengths, it also have some loopholes to be address and we as an audience have to dig out the problems by giving some suitable line of actions. Academic figure of media studies Professor Dr Masrur Alam Khan presented his views on communication proximity at the organizational level while Dr Anjum Zia addressed on media and gender representation. The Vice Chancellor University of Sargodha (UoS) Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed announced to build a multi-media centre for the students of communication and media studies and stated to start a specialized degree in mobile journalism. He added that Pakistan is a newly born nation with only 20 year old media while media has become powerful actor in the modern world particularly in Pakistan and thanks to media for providing information at every level of the society. This was a first ever academic event in a row to develop vibrant local media in Sargodha and to lift the academic profile of the varsity students, he further added. The worthy Vice Chancellor congratulate the acting Dean faculty of Arts, Humanities and Law Dr. Nawaz Mahsud, In-charge department of Communication and Media Studies Noman yaser and his team on organizing wonderful two day national symposium. At the end of symposium, the Vice Chancellor Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed presented the souvenirs among the participants of the debate and announced a declaration on the conclusion of two day symposium. The symposium pledged various recommendations for both media owners and the practitioners. Participants of the symposium recommended the formulation of editorial board in media organizations with policy guidelines for the board in written form. This will shift the editorial control from owners to media professionals. It was recommended that self regulation is the key step towards improvement of media standards and implementation of ethics in Pakistan. It was also recommended that excessive trend of sensationalism in breaking news should be discouraged. It was recommended that like all other professions, steps should be taken to set criteria for the appointment of journalists along with their training and capacity building of working journalists on professional grounds consistently. Media content should be in line with the societal norms and values. Media, in general, should exercise freedom of expression in a responsible manner. Media should play pro-social role with balance and true representation of gender, minorities and other neglected segments to promote tolerance and harmony in the society. It was suggested that crime based shows should not be presented in such a manner that instigates people to commit crime. It was recommended that media organizations should ensure the implementation of codes of conduct and other rules and regulations of the regulatory bodies in true letter and spirit. It was recommended that community journalism should be encouraged in order to address community issues. Media practitioners should focus on factual and un-biased reporting of the events, issues etc. Special care should be exercised in coverage and presentation of issues related to national interest and security, women, children and minorities. It was recommended that decency in terms of use of language, dresses and situations be adopted within the presentation of content in both electronic and print media. It was recommended that social media content should be counter checked and verified by other sources and mainstream media should also not blindly follow the contents of social media as part of the race in breaking the news. Opinions should be formulated on the basis of evidence and research.