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December 9, 2019

A free media

Editorial

 
December 9, 2019

The presence of a vibrant media is essential to any society. Without it, the people are denied their basic right to information protected under the constitution of Pakistan. The media is also important as a means to allow opinions of different kinds to be expressed without resorting to violence on the streets or more damaging protests. It is important then that Pakistan’s media which has played a vital role in the country’s history since 1947 be safeguarded and given the space it needs to function in. In most cases through the history of Pakistan this has happened. The country’s media has highlighted all kinds of issues and in many ways helped make our country more democratic and more stable.

Yet, there have been periods of darkness when attempts were made to suppress the media. We hope these times will not return. In the present day and age, the media is especially vulnerable because individuals working within it or the institutions they work for can so easily be attacked viciously over social media. As in the past, mob attacks are also not unknown. We have also seen full-fledged campaigns against individual journalists so as to intimidate them and also send out a warning to others. And just a few days ago, we saw unknown protesters gather outside Dawn’s offices, demanding it be shut down and threatening the people who work there.

The media’s role of investigating issues and offering balanced criticism of events needs to be protected. If it is not we may find ourselves facing greater frustration with no means to highlight it or give people an opportunity to put forward their opinion. While there is a criticism against media sensationalism all over the world, we should remember that good journalism has its own place in society and can play a hugely constructive role within it. It should not be considered a crime to put out stories which have been verified and which pass the standards of responsible journalistic expression. Media houses and professional journalists should be striving to uphold these standards and ensure that the media can develop as it should within any democracy. Without the media, democracy is meaningless. There is good reason why the media has been termed the fourth pillar of the state. It has played a vital role in bringing to light wrongdoings both in our country and in many others. And in reporting the basic facts of a story. There should be no bar on permitting it to play this role.

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