Citizen Media Dialogue – by Junaid Qaiser

Citizen Media Dialogue:  Media urged to play role in resolving masses problems

by Junaid Qaiser

Media is the eyes and ears of a sovereign country and needs to be further empowerment in the interests of the citizens. Media is not highlighting civic and citizen’s issues, our media is perfect example of protocol journalism…media is not portraying women, youth and minorities issues in its main page, so it’s imperative that a free and responsible media be facilitated and effective and active interaction and relationship between citizens and media be focused. Media has to be citizen centric in order for media and citizens to be equally empowerment partners in the development of a country. This was the main thrust of a citizens-media dialogue organized by a non–governmental organization—Individualland Pakistan. The speakers from both media and civil society groups examined the contours’ of citizen-media relationship.

The discussion was attended by a large number of senior journalists, both from print and electronic media, along with representatives of civil society organizations. The panelists underlined that the importance of free and responsible media and facilitating it to highlight the issues and their solutions in the society. Media main space and time is captured by non issues
Institutions are victim of conflict, we are facing most difficult situation in the Pakistan’s history. There are lots of questions related to media professionalism, is media professional enough?

People feel marginalized, as media not portraying their picture, 17 corer people feel in dark due to information dearth, as media presenting half truth, thus people losing faith on state institutions. No section of media representing citizen’s voice and concerns. Media as watchdog need professionally gather and disseminate information. It’s very important that media should create balance and develop new equilibrium between Media and citizen. We as a citizen want modern, democratic liberal and pro people state…

Current situation contributed towards sense of directionless. We feel Widespread and very noticeable nuisance…

Panelist criticized specially anchorpersons and suggested that Media should work as facilitator, not as manipulator…

Media is just announcing populist verdict, which cannot be tolerated, people will not bear media’s media world created nuisance value. Panelists and participants also felt need of the effective and active interaction and relationship between citizens and media. At the same time, the speakers also urged media to play responsible and positive role in educating people. The first session focused on examining the contours’ of the citizen-media relationship.

The first session focused upon examining the contours’ of citizen-media relationship where Ms. Gulmina Bilal, Director Individual land Pakistan, Mr. Ikram Hoti, journalist, Mr. Harris Khalique development worker and Mr. Matiullah Jan spoke. Director Individualland Ms Gulmina Bilal stressed upon the need to incorporate the voices of citizens in the media as an “Individual” as it is crucial to strike a balance between the freedom of responsibility along with a social responsibility we owe to the citizens. It was emphasized during discussion that there is a need for the citizens to be informed so that they can contribute by giving in insightful feedback as we are living in the age of nuisance value—

Speakers at the ‘Citizens Media Dialogue’, organized by the Individual-Land, an NGO, urged the media to be citizen-centric in order to become equal empowerment partners in the country’s development.

The first session of the dialogue focused on examining the contours of the citizen-media relationship, where speakers stressed upon the need to incorporate citizens’ voices in the media as an individual, as it is crucial to strike a balance between freedom of responsibility and the social responsibility they owe to citizens.

Talking on the occasion, senior journalist Ikram Hoti proclaimed that the media is trying its level best to apprise citizens of the truth but the country’s situation is so complex that it is difficult to undertake constant fact-checking. “There is a need to make the media more effective and imperative in order to provide valid information to people instead of promoting sensationalism,” he said. He stressed the need for making media effective and impartial. Hoti said that media should give correct and accurate information to the society or else its role would not be more than a problem creator would. He added that the country was in a state of turmoil and media men, being watchdog, should play responsible role by disseminating correct and right information.

Member Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO) Haris Khalique said facts should not be overlapped with professional opinions of journalists. “There is absence of an organized body to mediate and channelise the voices of citizens to the media,” he said.
He referred to the absence of an organized body to mediate and channelise the voices of citizens to the media. He was of the view that most of the working journalists, ignoring facts, highlighted their own views, which was against the professional ethics of journalism. He said that unfortunately we have no organized entity of citizen, concerned citizen group, which can create liaison between citizen and media.
Television especially become new church of modern authority, in Lal Masjid case firstly media and especially senior journalists provoked Government to take action against militant and after operation they changed their position and opposed strongly, thus changed public opinion.

It’s also not good that proprietor become editor and now we have not professional editors.

We have also seen media role as arbitrator between two parties in various cases.

Mostly journalists reject ground realities, on the basis of their own set ideologies by doing this they don’t perform their duty professionally and objectively, it’s consider selective reporting. Media should use its power in citizen’s favor; it’s commonly observed that English, Urdu and other regional languages newspaper, treat news differently, even though they belong to same publishing house.

He also urged the civil society organizations to train journalists by organizing training courses.

Senior journalist Matiullah Jan expressed his apprehensions on the failure of the state-controlled media, as it acted as a mouthpiece of the regime, which is ironic for the reason of impact it has on the masses in general. , he criticized the inability of PEMRA in effective monitoring.
The participants in the forum highlighted the deficiency of public interest stories as the political saga is in the limelight which leads to an information gap. Matiullah Jan also identified different influential groups, which are undermining media’s freedom; these groups are security, intelligence establishment, political parties, judiciary, media owners religious and other social groups, regulatory authorities and corporate sector. Media is just like vehicle driving fast on dark motorway, we journalists are eyes and ears of society…

People’s empowerment is dependant on information and media is the main source of information. Media is abused and misused by our media tycoons.

PTV is considered as symbol of power, as we have seen on 12 October 1999, when after military take over firstly army control PTV.

Media is unfortunately, facing worst sort of credibility crises. There are also no professional editors, infact proprietors become editors.
It’s very important in present circumstances that Media watchdog organizations should keep their eyes on media. People have certain rights on media and media is duty bound to reflect people’s aspirations and also present people’s concerns and demands.

Mati, also said that it’s also become imperative that different deals and dialogue between Government and media owners should be made public.

Farhan Bukhari said there are various reasons and basis on which media being critisiced.

Press and nation rise and fall together.

Reporters include his/her opinion and views in news,which is professionally wrong.reporters should not become columnist in his/her news and columnist should avoid becoming newsmaker.

Media’s direction is anti people,disoriented and misdirected,media should not creat harassment and panic situation in should also highlight rural issues and citizen’s problem.

Civil society should also wake up. Media is as corrupt as other segments of society.

Mazhar Abbas said intellectual corruption is more dangerous than financial corruption. He refered one urdu book”column noision ki qalabazian” writer just produced,columnists’ old columns.

He also presented Pakistan’s biggest 1971 incident,creation of Bangladesh,as case study,when allover the world that news treated as leading story but,Pakistan media ignored.

Media was not portrayed Bangali nation’s voice and concerns.He suggested that PEMRA should work as licence issuing authority not as regulatory body.

Civic and social issues related programme’s rating is less than political talk shows. It’s people’s responsibility to decrease ratings of politically sensationalized programmes.

Aniq Zafar Said that people especially men try to find entertainment drama and conflict in talk shows. Religious persons, anchors and cook are the main beneficiaries of electronic media.

There should be no one side reporting, as we witnessed recently.
Anti musharaf movement converted into pro chief justice movement.
Media should follow self regulation and media bodies should design and implement code of conduct.

It was emphasized during the discussion that there is a need for citizens to be informed, so that they could contribute by giving insightful ideas, as we are living in an age of nuisance value. . During the discussion, the participants called upon the citizens to help the media by giving a feedback, as “we are living in the age of nuisance value.”

The second session, ‘Exploring the Citizen-Centric Media’, highlighted major gaps in the media strategy and reporting.

Mukhtar Ahmad Ali was the moderator of second session, he said In terms of context setting? Why we need media? As a citizen it’s our right to know.

Media’s agenda, why and how media should be independned .how media should be organized.independance is co related with responsibility.

Hassan Khan Director News Khyber TV said we have lots of expectations from electronic media. Media played great role during judicial movement and restoration of democracy, media should have revisited its role after restoration of democracy but it continued in same fashion.

Media debate is Islamabad Centric (these days President Asif Ali Zardari’s centric).

Usually Talk shows anchors high jack whole show. Media is not discussing symptoms of terrorism. It’s necessary that media should redefine and revisit its role. Media’s focus is on Islamabad, President House; media is focusing on Supreme Court, while 98% cases are in lower courts, and so media is ignoring citizens. Media given too much space and time on NRO and Kerry Lugar Bill and not highlighting miseries of internally displace peoples (IDPS).

Media and reporters eagerly wait for bomb blasts, and after covering event, they claim that they first cover this event, describe it as biggest success and achievement .we wait for Bad news. Biggest question is how our media is raising education, health and other social services related issues.

Unfortunately our media is conflict driven; media is not raising corruption as issue.

Development consultant Shafqat Munir on the occasion said Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan allows the provision of correct information to people but they are not supposed to campaign. “The campaign must be launched for a social purpose but not to shake the government,” he said.

Shafqat Munir said media should convert itself from ego centric to citizen centric.

Media which is actually soft power become hard power, here in Pakistan, now five to six people setting nation’s agenda, if you will review all news channel you will see that media is not catering more than 200 people.17 corer people watching not more than 200 people on media. Comic lighter socio-political show is getting more advertisement than serious political talk shows. Political talk shows losing advertisements. There is clear law on cross media all over the world, because monopoly over information is not good symbol. Media should be socially responsible and play its watchdog role. Media keep its eye on compulsory education, health and job creation related issues and highlights, now no body talk about it. On media there is 70% reactive space and 30% proactive space. People’s space is misused. He said that online cyber media is emerging and also caters people’s information needs. Young writers and journalists doing excellent work on cyber media, its real citizen journalism. If print and electronic media really want to survive it should give space to citizens.

Uks Radio Director Tasneem Ahmer said that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) hesitates to give licenses to community radio stations, which is the best way to empower communities by providing them an opportunity to give their opinions. “People living in other countries currently hold a negative image of our country and the media should play its effective role in portraying the country’s positive image,” she added. Tasneem Ahmar said media should give voice to voiceless, she highlighted importance of community radio, she says PEMRA is reluctant to issue licenses to community radio stations. She says community radio is city centric, community radio is also online. We are also presenting solutions. In international and national media Pakistan’s image is very much horrified…PEMRA should issues community radio licences .she lamenated that political issues capture social should also present positive picture of society.

Farhan Bokhari, senior journalist, said the media is no longer issue-oriented, adding that only political stories are highlighted, while social issues and economic aspects are often ignored. He also highlighted various problems faced by journalists, including lack of resources. “The majority of journalists are also facing severe problems in terms of finances and resources, and it is not fair to expect a lot from them,” he said.

Farhan Bukhari said media role should not be analyze in isolation, he also criticized media’s role he said that there is no issue oriented reporting.

Foreign press agenda is war oriented. Media over politicized one theme, one man should be ouster, system should be destablise.he said that Zia legacy of self censorship is still continue, and how to counter this sort of self censorship.indpendant media is no where in this world. Media is not asking real questions, there is lots of rural slums area, but no one going there and asking people’s basic daily life questions. No reporting on one covering akbary mindi, media is only covering stock exchange, and giving wrong information. Media outfit should maintain quality and standard. It’s civil society responsibility to perform watchdog’s role. He also lamented that unfortunately we have no high quality journalistic institute, where we can teach modern and up to date media education. In our educational institutes we are teaching obsolete books.

Journalistic standard should be improve, there is dare need .there is no much difference between journalistic ethics and professional ethics.

There is no much difference between journalistic ethics and business ethics, its corporate media, driven by profit. Popular journalism is infect yellow journalism. There is competation…it’s the biggest question where media is going, and what’s its direction? We are addict of sensationalism and it’s also biggest challenge that how we can get rid of it?

One participant raised question how one journalist can be political, social, economic, cultural and international affairs& law at the same time?

When all channel showing same footage and claiming it’s exclusive, how it is exclusive? All participant s were agreed on this point that there should be no opinion and analysis in news report. One publishing house continuously showing this ticker that”khatre ki ghanti baj rehi hae…alarm ki ghanti baj rehi hae.

When we read story, we can easily gauge that writer is friend or foe of President Zardari. It’s biased reporting.

Shafqat Munir described media as propagandist media there is too much negative and biased reporting on media. Citizen should become proactive recipient rather passive recipient

Journalists urged to play positive, effective role in educating masses
The speakers stressed on the media to focus more on social problems rather than just focusing on political issues. Media urged to play role in resolving masses problems.


Individualland Pakistan is actively engaged with the Pakistani media. This engagement involves active training of print, radio and electronic media personnel on civic issues as well as using media as anally for change. Presently, Individualland Pakistan is involved in a national initiative to create public awareness of freedom of information through the use of radio, which provides an efficient way of reaching out to maximum number of people.Individualland Pakistan also uses online media tools for it’s advocacy and consulting work. For Details, Please visit



Latest Comments
  1. Sadia Hussain
  2. Abdul Nishapuri
  3. Junaid Qaiser
  4. Amjad