Media Coercion Never Justified

Aug 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Censorship
Activists burn copies of Daily Jang

The News: Activists burn copies of Daily Jang

While this blog has posed questions and challenges for news media reporting about the alleged shoe throwing incident, we are troubled by reports that certain news media are being coerced by political activists. Factual accuracy and political fairness cannot be achieved through political coercion – only through an honest and open discussion of media reports.

If it is true that there is coercion by political parties or their workers in Karachi or anywhere else in Pakistan, these actions are unacceptable and must end immediately. The only way to effectively counter media inaccuracy is by pointing out these inaccuracies and correcting them, not by forcing channels off air or newspapers off the street through threat or coercion.

This blog has long pointed out the inaccuracies of some of the media companies that are allegedly being intimidated including Geo TV and the Jang-News media group especially when we believed that they were either misreporting the facts or publishing unfair and unjustified political attacks. But we absolutely do not support any attempts to coerce or intimidate these companies. Actually, this blog has also made a point to condemn any and all attempts to threaten or intimidate journalists, and we stand by this as a basic principle. Media coercion is never justified.

We recognize that the government has stated that no official government institution is involved in any acts meant to coerce or intimidate media. Likewise, PPP party members in Karachi have stated that they are not involved in any acts of burning newspapers. At the same time, though, it is also reported that the same PPP Karachi leader was threatening outside Geo TV offices. We believe that the truth needs to be brought out instead of “he said, she said”. The people deserve the facts, not politics.

Yesterday’s statement by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Syed Sumsam Ali Bukhari that there will be no government curbs imposed on media is a good start, but the government should use its powers to ensure that media is free from intimidation by political activists or any others who would, for whatever reason, attempt to deny the basic right of freedom of the press.

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