Wednesday May 29, 2024

ADPM appeals to media for highlighting floods catastrophe in public interests

November 05, 2022

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: “Media need to play their role in providing in-depth, sensitive and compassionate news coverage of the impact of floods catastrophes on local communities across Pakistan,” demands ADPM.

The climate change-induced floods in Pakistan have posed a humanitarian disaster on an unprecedented scale, with over 1,500 dead, nearly 35 million affected and over $10 billion estimated in damages. Two months after the high floods, many areas of Sindh are still underwater while affected parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa need urgent post-disaster relief and rehabilitation.

With the onset of the winter season and the reported spread of viral and waterborne diseases among the flood-affected communities, the long-term needs of the flood survivors cannot be ignored. The news media have an important public-interest role in highlighting the extent of such catastrophes and identifying the need for rescue efforts. While social media, online journalism, and international news outlets have produced exemplary coverage of the Pakistan floods, the mainstream news media, barring a few exceptions, have largely failed to prioritize the coverage of the disaster over political current affairs.

Mr Muhammad Aftab Alam, convener of the Alliance for Diversity and Pluralism in Media in Pakistan (ADPM), stated that the ADPM is an advisory alliance of journalists and rights activists that work to promote public interest journalism in the Pakistani media.

He said that ADPM calls upon mainstream broadcast and print news outlets to realize their public interest role in highlighting news coverage of the impact of floods across Pakistan. Mr Alam further mentioned that “despite the immediacy and growing clout of social media, the broadcast and print news media outlets are still immensely influential in affecting policy and governance decisions.

According to Mr Alam: “The legacy news media not only have a responsibility in this hour of national need when the dangerous effects of climate change in Pakistan are being recognized around the world but also this is an opportunity for the news media to rebuild its trust with the public.” In the context of the floods, ADPM stresses that the news media can focus on issues such as child mortality, maternal health, and the incidence of waterborne disease, among other developments. The media could also do well to highlight the impact of floods on population segments that were already marginalized before the disaster, such as working classes, religious minorities, and transgender persons, among others and who are most likely to become further marginalized as a result of the devastation caused by floods. At the same time, the ADPM appreciates the news coverage of floods done by the digital-only news media, including members of the Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP), which have kept the spotlight on the floods despite their limited means and accessibility issues.

“The ADPM encourages digital journalists and online news outlets to ensure that their focus on the flood coverage does not dwindle with time. The destruction caused by the 2022 floods would affect local communities for years. At the moment, flood survivors need help with immediate rescue and relief. The ADPM appeals to all public interest news media to use journalism for flood-affected citizens of Pakistan,” he concluded.