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Safety training for Pakistan journalists

From NajamulHassan, RMNP

Posted by Pat Perkel

Yazman is a Sub-division of District Bahawalpur having rich agricultural land and 18 union councils. There are more than 100 media men from all prominent national and regional electronic and print media houses. One fortnightly paper Sadai Yazman is also publishing. Rural Media Network Pakistan had selected 18 journalists from Yazman, Shai Wala, Tale Wala, Head Rajkan,Fort Derawar , and adjoining area for two days training workshop titled Safety of the Journalists held at The Best College for Girls Shahi Wala on March 30-31/2013. With the support of Doha Centre For Media Freedom.It was first journalists training in the history of Tehsil Yezman.

Discussion and and Demand

The Rural Media Network Pakistan has been included in the United Nations Action Plan for the Safety of the Journalists .This decision was appreciated and welcomed by all the participants of the workshop. The President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar hoped that the UN and its agencies with the collaboration of Government, political parties and other stake holders in Pakistan will take concrete steps to minimize the danger for the lives of media men of the country while performing their professional duties. Sehar stressed upon Government functionaries and media groups to formulate ‘code of ethics’ for ensuring security and safety of the journalists as more than 84 journalists in Pakistan lost their precious lives in the line of duty since 2000. 

Ex Member Punjab Assembly  from Yazman Doctor Mohammad Afzal Chaudhry while addressing on the occasion of certificate giving ceremony lauded the role of journalist community and termed them as a fourth pillar of the state. He said that media men of the country side were indicating the corruption of ruling class but all politicians were not involved in corruption. He appreciated the Rural Media Network Pakistan  and Doha Centre For Media Freedom for their contribution to equip the journalists of rural area with the most advance knowledge of the field

Questionnaire.

The Participants of the workshop filled up a questionnaire related to their professional work and safety issues and they expressed grave concern regarding their security and safety issues while performing journalistic activities. All were facing same threats from legislatures and local politicians, criminals and police.

Muhammad Wasim correspondent Yazman Daily Khabrain had to pay US$ 1200 to eliminate his name from fabricated criminal cases lodged at local police station which were the consequences of his political reporting. He was threatened by a member parliament even he informed General Manager of his institution but all in vain and he faced the music in fake cases.

Ubaid UllahTehsil Correspondent Daily Khabrain was threatened of dire consequences by a local legislature on phone. He informed his colleagues and local police but no action was taken.

Muhammad Nadeem Aslam Daily Ausaf received threats from a politician of the area but he didn’t register his complaint.

Saleem Ahmed correspondent daily Jang termed it constant threat the reporting about misdeeds and corruption of local politicians.

Dost Ahmed Qureshi Tehsil reporter Daily Junobi Punjab feels insecure from the local police and regional legislatures while reporting their corruption and bribe related stories.

Training

18 journalists participated in two day training workshop. Resource persons told them to be careful while covering sensitive issues. They should not file one sided stories and both parties of the dispute should be given chance to clarify their version. While covering extremists and militant group’s activities they should concentrate on facts and avoid sensationalizing the stories. Death accounts should be confirmed and verified by the relevant quarters. Disaster reporting and its techniques were also taught in detail.

Resource persons advised the participants to keep distance from religious groups and avoid mentioning speeches that generate hatred among different sects of Islam. While covering bomb blast incidents they should not rush to the spot without any precautions and take all necessary steps for their safety. Coverage should be done at certain distance and keep in touch with police and other law enforcement agencies. Casualties should be mentioned with utmost care and rumours should not be made part of the news.

Resource persons taught them how to report and handle the situation after bomb blast. The mechanism of identification of various bombs like bobby trap, mines and parcel bomb were also discussed. They stated the precautionary measures for the journalist who is assigned for the reporting of violent mob. The trainers explained the types of explosive materials and its general identification and described the principles devised by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)  and BBC for the security and safety of the journalists working in the conflict and agitation zones. Resource persons covered topics of sensitive stories, contacts and relations with militant groups, how to cover violent mobs and the real threats during various sessions of two days workshop.

The trainers discussed the various topics during sessions including role of media in conflict, types of conflict, need for maximum safety, duties and responsibilities of journalists while reporting sensitive issues, reporting in conflict zones, first aid techniques, disaster reporting. The practical exercises regarding reporting on sensitive & conflicted issues and question-answer sessions were also conducted after every lecture demonstration.

The training manual of regarding safety of the journalist published in country Urdu language by RMNP with the support of DCMF and a handbook of ‘Reporters without Borders’ were also distributed among the participants.

Personal Evaluation Form

The 18 Journalists/Participants filled up personal evaluation forms regarding performance and evaluation of the resource persons of the training programme.

Participants of the workshop expressed their utmost gratitude to the Rural Media Network Pakistan and Doha Centre for Media Freedom on organizing such fruitful workshop for the media men of far -flung area.

They termed it encouraging for the grooming of local correspondent and demanded of more workshops may schedule in future. They paid satisfaction over the course work and presentations of the resource persons. The participants suggested that workshop should be prolonged up to five days instead of two days and at least four workshops should be held in a year.

They appreciated the role of RMNP  and DCMF to sensitize the issues of safety and security of the local journalists.

Muhammad Nadeem Aslam Correspondent Daily Ausaf from Headrajkan stated that such types of media workshops are very fruitful for the journalists of the far flung areas because there is no other opportunity for the peripheral area.

Muhammad Aslam Bhatti paid his gratitude to the organizers and realized that he became more equipped with professional knowledge after attending this workshop.

Muhammad Luqman emphasized on the importance of safety workshop because it increases their capability to perform in conflicted zones.

Dost Muhammad Qureshi correspondent daily Junobi Punjab said that he was unaware of journalist safety and security measures earlier. Now he feels more comfortable and confident after attending this workshop.All the participants urged President RMNP and his colleagues to organize an election reporting training programme in Yezman before upcoming polls.

Certificate Distribution Ceremony

Certificate giving ceremony was held on March 31,2013 in which Ex-MPA Doctor Mohammad Afzal was the chief guest who distributed RMNP-DCMF certificates among 18 participants Mohammad Saleem Nawaz, Mohd Alauddin, Mohammad Obaidullah, Mohammad Waseem, Mohammad Nadeem Aslam, Dost Muhammad,Ansar Abbas,Abdul Hameed Saqib,Saleem Ahmed,Mohammad Aslam TahirBhatti,Imdadullah,UbaidurRehman,Mohammad Ali, Muhammad Arshad, Mohammad Luqman Jatala,Mohammad Bashir Aasi,Sabar Ali Mughal and Mohammad Ashfaq.

 

 

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