ISLAMABAD: Journalists on Friday demanded of the government and owners of media organizations to provide them more security of life and to ensure that they are paid according to the labour they put in their work.
Leading journalists Mazhar Abbas, Ahmed Rashid, Zahid Hussain and Haroon Rashid at a discussion forum concurred that journalists are facing increasing dangers from various groups and the government should take steps to protect reporters and cameramen.
A large number of journalists participated in the forum organized by European Union in collaboration with Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) here.
Mazhar Abbas said journalists should not be sent into conflict zones without proper training. Families of journalists also face dangers and have to bear financial insecurity, he said adding 85 per cent of the journalists are not working as regular employees.
He said despite the law of access to information, there were many other laws which restrain the journalists from gaining information from the government departments and they can even be convicted in certain conditions.
Haroon Rashid said journalists should be more cautious when they report on certain stories as some elements in society are intolerant.
He said it is responsibility of the government to safeguard its citizens including journalists. Prominent writer Ahmed Rashid said journalists face numerous challenges which have increased after the media explosion.
He said reporters are messengers and the tendency of shooting the messenger as was done 2000 years back in Greece and Rome should be avoided.
The government, military, security agencies, society and NGOs should work together to ensure safety of journalists, he added.
Zahid Hussain said the government should bring those to justice who killed journalists. He said now the media is enjoying more freedom and electronic media is playing a more vital role as opinion maker as 50 per cent of the population is illiterate.
He said journalists should have a code of ethics and reporters should not reach a stage when speculation becomes reporting.
Representative of the European Union in Islamabad Lars-Gunnar Wigemark assured that European Union stands by Pakistani journalists and wants a secure environment for them in which they can perform their professional work.
He said journalists are facing more dangers. According to South Asia Media Monitor from January to July 2011 nine Pakistani journalists were killed and mediamen are finding it difficult to perform their duties.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in association with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has prepared a guide “22 Steps To Safety” so that journalists can protect themselves in conflict zones and difficult situations.
If the journalists get into trouble, they can contact their district journalist union or PFUJ hotline 051-2870221 and alert colleagues, editors, friends and family.