Media in Pakistan not responsible: US study

By Umer Bin Ajmal

The Institute of Business Management (IoBM), in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), released a study on Thursday analysing the Media Responsibility and Independence Index (MRII) in Pakistan.

With the emergence of electronic media in the country, civil society and journalists have complained that media trespasses all ethical barriers in its rush to break news.

The newly emerged breaking news culture in the last decade has forced the media professionals and academicians to debate on the subject in order to outline a charter or code of conduct to avoid sensationalism of news.

While the journalists across the country often claim that the media does not enjoy its desired independence and liberty, the outcome of the study reveals otherwise.

The study suggested the “concerned stakeholders” believe the media in Pakistan is relatively independent, but the degree of responsibility it demonstrates falls shorter of its claims.

“MRII is a measure of two critical and interdependent variables: responsibility and independence,” said IoBM Media Studies Head of Department Ejaz Wasay. “It has been designed for a better understanding of the status of journalistic freedom in the country and media’s commitment towards the rights, liberty and welfare of citizens,” he added.

The survey’s result, which comprised 399 respondents, was divided in five categories: media professionals (38 per cent), general public (22.6 per cent), educated youth (19.5 per cent), civil society (11.3 per cent) and political activists (7.8 per cent).

“The research methodology and questionnaire were shared with the experts’ panel on the Pakistan Citizen Media Forum (PCMF), and comprised media professionals, representatives of the academia, civil society and All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS),” said Wasay.

Traditional scale of 1-10 was used to estimate the “critical aspects” of media responsibility and media independence. The net scores stood at 5.46:5.75, suggesting that the sense of responsibility among the media in Pakistan is somewhat weaker in relation to the independence it currently enjoys.

It was an underlying assumption of the study that only when these two aspects would be in balance, and above a certain threshold, could the preservation of democracy and human rights be ensured.

The study also suggested some key factors to achieve and maintain a vibrant and impartial media environment:

Absence of monopoly over information dissemination

Regular and timely dissemination of information (news, analyses, and reports)

Pluralism to allow diversity of opinion

Maintaining objectivity and truthfulness in reporting, and

Presenting different sides of any issue, thereby empowering audiences to formulate their own informed judgment

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