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Category Archives: Media
by Rifaat Hamid Ghani
TV started out in Pakistan as a government monopoly dressed up as a semi-autonomous corporation. There was every reason for PTV to be a disaster, yet it was an enviable success.
President Field Marshal Ayub loved it for its power as a propaganda tool that dispensed with literacy requirements and had more magnetism than the radio. Aslam Azhar, PTV’s defining and trail-blazing station-manager, loved it for what it could do to educate and inform. That was the idealist in him. The actor in him loved it because it was a creative medium. The PTV he nurtured with a board of imaginative mandarins to back him, had an egalitarian working environment and it changed norms and mores.
All within the parameters of the Ministry of Information’s most stringent rules the new medium empowered women, dignified the artiste, and changed social conventions. PTV gave the artistes and creators of drama, music, dance, a place to go and be and earn. It gave the entertainment industry a respectability which assured parents their young could participate despite the amazingly irregular working hours and rather low grade recognition granted the programme producer, bureaucratically speaking. Of course the outreach of PTV’s state propaganda was soul-deadening – but even so programmes like Alif Noon redeemed much. And in terms of professionalism and entertainment value the quality of PTV programming and production and technical transmission dominated the region and was an exemplar.
Cut to now. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
HOW does one profile a woman who has the academic qualifications and 19-year work experience of a financial journalist, but is not attracted by the aura of glamour many lesser media people like to create around themselves? Her commitment lies with the rural community in her ancestral village in Sindh but she modestly refuses to describe herself as an expert in development work. “I am still learning on the job,” she tells me.
Meet Naween A. Mangi, the Pakistan Bureau Chief of the New York based Bloomberg News since 2006. She may be a novice – albeit a devoted one – in development but in financial journalism her expertise and experience are unmatched. She has the intricacies of the stock market at her finger tips and is well-versed in the ups and downs in the corporate sector in the country. She works diligently planning coverage, filing important stories when she is required to and training and managing younger journalists, a job she excels in by virtue of her considerable experience in launching news organizations, working on the lay-out and injecting new ideas in old publications.
By Zubeida Mustafa
MUCH has been written about the media crisis that has gripped Pakistan in recent weeks. It should not take anyone by surprise considering the environment we live in. These are not normal times and there are political cracks in the economic and social systems that conventionally hold state and society together. Thus the institutions and their functionaries have lost the coping capacity that is supposed to keep them going in times of crises and that helps them emerge from them unscathed.
Had corrective mechanisms been in place, corrective measures would have been taken a long time ago — when the first stone was cast. Matters have now come to a head. We have seen a running battle between a media house and the premier security intelligence agency. The government is trapped in the crossfire of its own making.
The need of the hour is to protect the lives of journalists and to resist arbitrary methods to suppress the media. On this we must be united. Having said this, I would add that we also need to revisit our history so that we do not make blunders again. We have always responded so belatedly to a long-brewing problem that we have allowed interested parties to exploit the situation. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
LAST week the Indus Resource Centre (IRC) and the Sindh Education Foundation held a joint consultative roundtable — the second such event in a series — to study the impact of the Sindh Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2013.
The project funded by UKAID and DAI Europe seeks to mobilise schoolchildren to create a visible demand for education.
This consultative process has proved to be an instructive exercise and holds great promise, provided the IRC’s strategy remains judicious and does not succumb to ill-considered demands by the financiers. Ideally, education projects should be indigenously funded to ensure local discretion to determine strategy. But this is not always possible given resource constraints.
Initially, the IRC held a baseline survey in eight districts of Sindh. Called ‘It’s my right, make it happen’, the survey found that barely 2pc of the respondents knew about the right to education (RTE) law. Even the functionaries of the education department lacked awareness of the act passed in February 2013. Continue reading
KARACHI, Dec 14: The Dawn Media Group announced the result of the competition for the Zubeida Mustafa Award for Journalistic Excellence on Saturday, with the citation and cash prize going to Zahra Sabri for her article “A Textbook Case”, which was published in the Herald magazine in December last year.
Ms Sabri’s article was amongst the over two dozen investigative news reports and news features submitted for the competition by women writers whose work was published in various accredited, Pakistan-based and English-language publications, said a press release.
The judges were unanimous that Ms Sabri’s work stood out for quality of research, clarity and accessibility of writing, and for being closest to the ideals and ideas for which the figure who inspired the award stands.
By Tasneem Ahmar
Seeing what a humble individual like me can achieve with self-belief and determination gives me the most satisfaction. When I reflect on my journey, I am happy that I was able to be an agent, a catalyst for change in how the Pakistani media reports more seriously and sensitively on issues ranging from media portrayal of women to reporting disasters through the gender lens or how to talk about HIV/AIDS without going into denial.
I am Tasneem Ahmar, Director of Uks (an Urdu word for reflection), a research, resource and publication centre dedicated to gender equality and women’s development. In 1997, I founded this organisation in Islamabad (Pakistan) with a clear focus on how women were treated in the media, A concern that has remained poorly represented by organisations working on women’s rights. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
THE two-member media commission’s recommendation for consultations on the review of all media laws and codes could not have been more timely. The fact is that lately a lot of concern has been expressed vocally by discerning observers about the damage the media is inflicting on our society.
Any forum, which is even distantly related to the press or television, invariably turns into an occasion to condemn their waywardness. TV receives a greater share of the flak because of its higher visibility/reach and potential to influence people’s mindsets.
The issue of ethics in journalism has been around for quite some time but has evaded all solution. Those of the older generation who have struggled for press freedom for years are naturally reluctant to hand over powers to the government to regulate the freedom of expression which a code can accomplish.
By Zubeida Mustafa
ELECTION 2013 has proved to be an enigma. We are a people in a hurry and immediately after the polling took place on May 11 we had started jumping to conclusions.
The facts had still not been ascertained fully, and without facts (and figures in the case of polling which is essentially a numbers game) how can one form informed opinions? What we have is a babble of judgements pronounced in line with the political leanings of various observers and on the basis of reports — not all of them authentic — circulating on the internet and in the media.
A lot did happen on polling day but one has to look at the bigger picture as well as the context. Of course there were malpractices in some constituencies amounting to rigging. They could not be ignored — the vociferous protests were too loud to ignore. Continue reading
By Courtenay Cooper Hall
Zubeida Mustafa: 72, First Female Pakistani Newspaper Editor
Zubeida Mustafa is a freelance journalist who writes a weekly column for Dawn, where she was assistant editor from 1975 to 2008. Dawn is Pakistan’s most widely circulated and influential English language newspaper, founded in 1947. Mustafa writes on a variety of subjects but her interest has mainly been in the social sector, which she has covered extensively. She has investigated in-depth issues, such as education, health care, women’s empowerment, children’s rights and the lives of ordinary people. She launched and edited Dawn’s “Health Page,” “Book Page,” “Education Page,” “CareerWise,” “Encounter,” “Karachi Notebook” and most notably “Books & Authors,” the first book magazine by any newspaper in Pakistan. Continue reading
By Zubeida Mustafa
AT a time when secular-thinking liberal Pakistanis are under attack from the Taliban, reading Azadi’s Daughter by Seema Mustafa (no relative) proved to be a thought-provoking exercise for me.
Sub-titled Journey of a Liberal Muslim — that is how the author describes herself — the book resonated with me powerfully although India and Pakistan are believed to be worlds apart politically, socially and culturally.
But are they? Fahmida Riaz created quite an uproar in New Delhi when she categorically pronounced a few years ago, “Tum bilkul hum jaisey nikley/ Ab tak kahan chupay thay bhai”. (You turned out to be just like us/ Where were you all along, brother?) Continue reading