ISLAMABAD: Challenges and opportunities in media, reporting on critical issues and issues of women in media were discussed in a three-day (27-29 Dec.) seminar titled “Framing Social Issue, Shaping Individual Responses” in Pakistani media.
Media is a key player in any society to highlight issues of public concern, shapes public opinions and inspires the policy makers, therefore there is need to guide the key player of the society. This consensus emerged on the concluding day of the seminar that mainly covered issues on women in media along with ideological leanings of media houses and analyzed the ideological differences in a society, to understand the difficulties faced by women in the media with special focus on working condition and sexual harassment.
2nd Munsalik National Annual Seminar for Journalists was attended by seasoned media persons and journalists from six major cities of Pakistan as well as civil society. The seminar arranged by Munsalik, a media initiative of Rozan (NGO) was aimed to sensitize the mainstream media practitioners and involve them as agents for a positive change in the society.
On the first day (27 Dec.), discussion on different approaches at woman issues in media was held during the first session of the seminar ‘Ideological framing in Media’. During the second session titled ‘Reporting on Critical issues’, Marvi Sirmed, an activist and Nasim Zehra, TV anchorperson highlighted the need for self-reflection on part of media and effectiveness of code of ethics of reporting during crisis where the nature of conflict can be overwhelming such as floods.
The session titled ‘Problems of journalists operating in smaller cities’, participants pointed out the issues of media workers in smaller cities which were low salaries and insurance of journalists. Muhammad Yaqub, a journalist from Quetta pointing at the camera of a cameraperson said that “this camera is insured but the cameraperson is not.”
During second day (28 Dec) session titled ‘Women in Media: challenges and opportunities’, practical needs of women at media houses such as transport problem, maternity leaves, daycare centers, separate bathrooms for women were stressed. The session moderated by Dr. Ambreen Ahmed highlighted that the issues of women in media. Ghazi Salahuddin, senior journalist commented “By changing the status of women in society we can bring a positive change in the society.”
Qatrina Hosain, TV anchorperson stressed “It is critical to set up daycare centers, separate bathrooms for women at all media houses.” Narjis Zaidi, senior journalist said “recognition of working women at decision-making level can yield positive results for the organization but only a handful of women in senior editorial positions.” While Myra Imran, a journalist said “women journalists are given soft beats (e.g. women pages, civil society etc) but by working efficiently, women reporters can become the social change agents in society by promoting serious issues of women.”
On third day (29 Dec.) final session titled ‘Portrayal of Women in Electronic Media’ in Information and Entertainment sectors reflected the policy of media to dedicate a fixed amount of time to women’s issues (e.g education, mobility, health etc). Naeem Mirza, moderated this session in which Absar Alam, journalist; Dr. Moeed Pirzada, TV anchorperson; Anwarul haq, anchorperson discussed the coverage of Gender based violence news on electronic media. Saira Kazmi, TV director explained how dramas can be used to cover major social issues with addressing solutions. Farkhanda Shaheen, TV Program Manager and Tauseeq Hyder, media trainer also spoke on the occasion.
In the session titled ‘Sexual harassment and legislation’, Aqsa Khan, Ex. Dir. Of Women Organization for Rights and Development explained the nature of workplace harassment law (Section 509) with special focus on working condition of women journalists. Arfana Mallah, human rights activist said “law is the ideological state apparatus which gives an invisible power to the public.” Gharida Farooqi, TV journalist pointed out that the support of family for women in media was critical.
The participants from Quetta believed that the seminar provided an opportunity for journalists to reflect and discuss the challenges of responsible reporting in critical situations.