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Old Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Muhammad Akmal Muhammad Akmal is offline
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Default The Pakistan Press Foundation

Project 3: To assist in the institutional development of press clubs.

The press clubs in Pakistan can play an effective role in developing the professional capacities of local journalists and in providing security to them from capricious acts of revenge from local elite. As an institution, the district press club is an important forum available to district journalists. It is a focal meeting point for the district journalist, serves several useful purposes for the journalistic community and provides a platform to redress individual and collective problems of working journalists.

The overall goal of the project is to develop model press clubs that can be catalytic to the institutional development of press clubs and similar institutions.

PPF’s vision of model press club is as follows:

1. The model press club is one that plays a key role in developing the professional capacities of local journalists 2. The model press club works effectively to raise awareness of local journalists on important issues facing society. 3. The model press club will develop its organizational capacity to meet the professional needs of journalists and the community in an effective manner.

Over the next three years, the project envisages assisting in the development of press clubs in the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan as well as in the areas affected by the earthquake. Theprovince of Sindh has the most effective regional press and with some assistance, press clubs can be play an important role in raising the professional capacities of local journalists. By comparison, the media and press clubs theprovince of Balochistan, neighbouring Sindh remains underdeveloped. The press clubs in Balochistan can learn from press clubs in Sindh and with networking and professional assistance, these press clubs can play a leading role in developing the capacities of local journalists in Balochistan, the country’s most underdeveloped province.

All press clubs in areas affected by the earthquake of October 8, 2005 were destroyed. Re-establishment of press clubs in the area is essential for local journalists to resume their professional responsibilities. Initially 30 press clubs from Sindh, Baluchistan, NWFP and Azad Kashmir will be short-listed for development as model press clubs to reach a final selection of 25 partner press clubs.

The PPF, in collaboration with local press clubs envisages the following activities for the development of press clubs:

- Survey of press clubs - Consultative workshops on developing common strategy for rural press clubs - Workshops on development of strategies and workplans in each press club - Publication of report on state of press clubs and directory of district press clubs - Training of trainers workshops press clubs. - Support to press clubs to organize training workshops and seminars for local journalists - Develop capacity and provide support to district press clubs to identify and implement projects in their districts

Project 4: Assist in the professional rehabilitation and development of journalists and media organisations in areas affected by the earthquake of October 8, 2005.

PPF has been involved in highlighting the losses suffered by journalists and media organisations in areas affected by the earthquake on October 8, 2005.

The earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale devastated large parts of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Pakistani controlled Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). According to official figures the death toll was estimated at over 73,000, including 17,000 children, and the number of injured is estimated to be over 70,000. Over 400,000 houses have been destroyed and the number of homeless is estimated to be 3.3 million.

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has fielded three media assessment missions to earthquake affected areas to assess losses and needs of media personnel and institutions affected by the earthquake. The first mission visited the area from 15 to 23 October 2005, the second mission from 9 to 16 November 2005 and the third from 1 to 12 April 2006.

The missions consulted with survivors, journalists, editors, social workers, representatives of national and international NGOs engaged in relief operations, officials of WHO and other international bodies, government officials, army personnel and ministers of NWFP and AJK and Pakistan government to ascertain the losses and needs of media personnel and organisations. Preliminary reports issued after the first two missions was widely appreciated by local journalists as well as by national and international media personnel and organisation. The reports also resulted in emergency support for the earthquake victims by individual and institutions within and outside the country.

Journalists and other personnel working for media organisations suffered terrible losses due to the earthquake. Three hundred and one persons working for the media suffered personal or property. Eleven were killed and 19 injured. Eighty-eight family members of media personnel were killed and 20 injured. Two hundred and thirty one houses of media personnel were destroyed and another 70 suffered damages to their houses. Out of twenty press clubs and offices of journalists unions in the area, premises of fifteen were either destroyed or damaged. In most cases, furniture and equipment in damaged premises of media organisations were destroyed.

The earthquake demonstrated, yet again, that the country is ill served, especially in times of crisis, by the long-standing state policy of not fully opening the electronic media and telecommunication services. This policy is most severe in Azad Kashmir where successive governments in Pakistan have not allowed the operation of independent radio stations or private mobile telecommunication services. Thus, when massive landslides caused by the earthquake blocked roads to many parts of the affected areas and destroyed landline telephone and telegraph systems, the country suddenly found itself without any means of communicating with millions of people devastated by the calamity. Victims in the remote towns, villages and hamlets that dot these mountainous regions, found themselves isolated, trapped and without any way of communicating their plight and needs to those in a position to help.

PPF has now embarked on a consultative process to develop an assessment and action plan for long-term rehabilitation of media in the earthquake affected areas. The process includes the following:-

1. Seeking comments and suggestions on the preliminary report from all stakeholders concerned with rehabilitation and development of media in earthquake-hit areas.

2. Organising two regional consultations on needs of media in NWFP and Kashmir for journalists from the earthquake-affected areas to consider this report and comments by other stakeholders from the affected areas.

3. Organising a national conference on the needs and role of the media in the reconstruction of the earthquake affected areas with participants from media from NWFP and AJK as well as by other stakeholders interested in the reconstruction and development of the media in these areas.

PPF will develop a detailed plan of action after the completion of the consultative process. However, based preliminary assessments and PPF’s experience and expertise, the organisation could be involved in the following activities in the earthquake affected areas.

- Developing professional capacities of local media personnel. - Developing capacities of local personnel in starting and operating radio stations. - Lobbying for reform of restrictive information and communication policies - Working for effective access to information policy and practices to ensure transparency in rehabilitation and reconstruction activities - Facilitate development of press clubs and other media institutions - Promote better interaction between journalists and civil society organisations and institutions working in the area.

Objective 2:

Promoting and defending freedom of expression and access to information.

Freedom of expression and the rights of journalists to report with freedom continue to be threatened in Pakistan. The Pakistani press operates in an environment where the basic democratic rights of a free press are frequently violated.

Government, as well as political, ethnic and religious individuals and groups hinder free reporting of events and information by restrictive policies as well as threats, intimidation and even violent attacks on the media personnel and organisations. Journalists and media organisations frequently become victims of many forms of harassment and physical harm, including arrests, illegal detentions, kidnappings, physical injuries, threats of death, and raids on their homes, false legal actions and threats to their family members. A number of Pakistani journalists have lost their lives for daring to report the truth

PPF has been involved in defence and promotion of freedom of expression for over a decade. PPF activities in defence of freedom expression include

1. Developing capacity of journalists to monitor attacks on free expression. 2. Producing news alerts to highlight attacks on freedom of expression.
3. Establishing an annual press freedom award to recognise journalists who have contributed to promoting freedom of expression in Pakistan.

Project 1: Developing capacity of journalists to monitor attacks on free expression

PPF has been working to develop the capacities of journalists throughout Pakistan to work effectively for the defence and promotion of freedom of expression. PPF is working to establish a national network of freedom of expression to gather, document and monitor violations against the press. Particular attention is being given to rural areas and smaller cities, where hundreds of attacks on freedom each year go unreported.

In order to develop the capacities of freedom of expression monitors, PPF organises workshops for journalists to discuss national and international concepts and instruments related to freedom of expression and forms harassment Pakistani journalists face in both the cities and rural areas. Participants discuss the need for supporting press freedom and the modalities of how individual journalists, press clubs and other media organisations can monitor attacks on press freedom and support those who have been victimized. The workshops include practical exercises on investigating and reporting attacks on press freedom and on effective advocacy techniques.

PPF has been lobbying for press freedom and an end to the culture of secrecy. The aim of the project is to establish an effective national network of journalists able to monitor and defend freedom of expression and promote access to information. Access to information ordinance was introduced for the federal government in Pakistan in 2000 and it became operational in December 2004 with the implementation of rules for applying for public information. The local government ordinance introduced local governance in Pakistan in the year 2000 also includes provisions for access to information by journalists and citizens. There is so far no access to information laws relating to provincial governments and PPF has been lobbying for provincial access to information laws.

The access to information laws in Pakistan have many flaws but, though these laws may be imperfect, PPF believes that they should be applied and tested to the greatest extent possible so that the deficiencies in law and practice could be identified and the movement can continue for reforming the laws. Government departments so far do not have any institutional mechanism for prompt handling of access to information requests. Citizens and journalists can only create such mechanisms through pressure and the use of existing laws. There is also a need to promote a culture among citizens and journalists to seek authentic information available in government departments and organisations.

With this view, the press freedom workshops include sessions to make journalists aware of the freedom of information laws and to train them to file applications for information under the relevant laws. The PPF has so far trained over 600 journalists in which participants have filed over 300 requests for information.. This initiative of PPF to use the tools available to ensure transparency and good governance has been appreciated not only by local journalists but also by UNESCO, which in a report said PPF’s “press freedom monitoring work opened flood gates to freedom of information requests to Pakistani government.”

The PPF relies on the network of press freedom monitors to collect information that it passed on in the form of “PPF News Alerts” to national and international organisations, human rights groups, media, and journalists to keep them informed of threats. Many respond with appropriate protests.

Project 3: Press Freedom Award

The Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), with support of UNESCO, has instituted an annual Aslam Ali Press Freedom Award to recognise courage and professional commitment of Pakistani journalists and media organisations and to focus national and international attention on the state of freedom of press in Pakistan. In the long term, the awards will promote a culture of freedom of expression in the country. The amount of the annual award is Rs. 100,000 (US$ 1,700).

Objective 3:

Enhancing level of public debate through the media.

The projects PPF plans to undertake to achieve enhanced level of public debate through the media include-

1. Strengthening linkages of civil society organisations with the media.
2. Weekly seminar series for journalists
3. Developing PPF library and documentation centre

Project 1: Strengthening linkages of civil society organisations with the media.

The overall objective of the project is to promote coverage of local social issues with emphasis on human rights and democratic development and strengthening the capacity of local bodies and civil society organizations to promote, through the media, greater awareness of important social problems in rural areas. The target groups are rural journalists, local government bodies and CSOs focusing on social issues. The main activities are training workshops, seminars, networking between local bodies, NGOs and journalists.

Local government organisations as well as CSOs, working on social issues, lack media skills. Journalists lack adequate appreciation of local issues and social and human right issues and accept injustices as a part of rural tradition. There is also mutual suspicion between journalists and NGOs. The result is that concerns and efforts of local institutions and CSOs are not properly reflected in the media. Better understanding between local government institutions, CSOs and journalists can considerably increase the impact of efforts to raise awareness of social issues. Better networking with local government institutions and NGOs enables rural journalists to make use of these valuable sources of news

The rural press can be an effective tool to raise the awareness of the overwhelming majority of the Pakistan’s population and to provide the local perspective on issues of national and international concern. The project works to develop networks of NGOs and journalists in each of the project districts to gather and document information concerning social issues and disseminate them to the media. The individual networks are linked with each other through a network facilitated by PPF.

Two district network coordinators, one from among CSOs and one from among rural journalists, are appointed in each of the project districts. The network coordinators are responsible for maintaining contact with local bodies, CSO’s and journalists within their area and with PPF. The network coordinators are also responsible for organising workshops and other activities in their areas.

Activities under the project include

- Training of trainers workshops for network coordinators - Training workshops to enhance media skills of civil society organisations - Awareness raising workshops for rural journalists - Meetings of district network coordinators

Project 2: Weekly seminar series for journalists

The media in Pakistan are increasingly realizing the need to keep up with the changes sweeping the country. These changes include the first steps of democracy, deregulation of economy, privatization of government-owned enterprises and a heightened concern for social, environmental and development issues. Running parallel with all these are rapid advances in information technology.

There is need for debate and discussions on the issues journalist are facing today. Realising the need, PPF introduced the weekly seminar series in Karachi on current issues to enable journalists to better understand issues they cover. The seminars have a loyal following among city journalists. Over the next three years, PPF plans develop the project with better planning of seminars, recording and documenting the proceedings and better dissemination of the reports of the seminars. Project 3: Developing PPF library and documentation centre.

The PPF – Vicky Zeitlin Library and Media Centre has become a focal point for journalists and students of journalism to interact discuss and debate professional, political and social issues. The PPF-Vicky Zeitlin Library and Media Centre is housed in 1,000 square feet of office space in the centre of the newspaper district.

The Centre is the only specialised media library available to working journalists in Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city. The library of theUniversity of Karachi is the only other source of reference material on the media, but its use is limited to university students. Located 20 miles from the city centre it difficult for journalists to have access to the university library.

PPF has assembled a sizable collection of information on the media facilitating access to media resources and further promote journalism in Pakistan.

Over the next three years, PPF plans to expand the scope to the library to include:

- Subscription to major international magazines in journalism - Textbooks on major aspects of journalism. - Maintain an audio and video resource centre. - Provide public access to Internet facilities. - Place citations of library collection on the Internet to facilitate access by researchers to material about Pakistan. - Provide a reading and conference room for professional journalists and students of journalism.

Last edited by Last Island; Wednesday, May 20, 2009 at 08:59 PM.
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