24/7 News Cycle Bad For Journalism, Deadly For Journalists

Dec 31st, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

Pakistan journalists danger

By now it’s fairly well accepted that the 24/7 news cycle and the competition that comes with it is problematic for the state of journalism. The most embarrassing result, of course, being the fake WikiLeaks story that wound up on the front page of several reputable newspapers (and continued to be published in some less reputable ones). But the race for to be the first group with the most sensational headlines is not only bad for journalism, it turns out that it’s bad for journalists, too – and by ‘bad’ I mean deadly.

A new report from Committee to Protect Journalists found that Pakistan earned the dubious distinction of being the deadliest nation for journalists in 2010, beating out Iraq and Mexico. In all, eight journalists were killed while doing their job this past year. And the CPJ report does not include incidents in which journalists were shot at or issued death threats such as Kamran Shafi received in 2009.

Nafees Takar, the chief of Voice Of America’s Pashto-language Deewa service, says that part of the problem is the pressure to be the first to deliver on-the-scene reports from dangerous areas.

“Most of the time, when one media outlet in Pakistan uses a report, for example, on [U.S. missile] drone attacks, another media outlet will also be forcing the reporting in the region and will be expecting from their reporter a story which might be better than other one, with the soundbites of the people, and maybe the outlet will also be expecting that he or she should get some pictures of the area which has been hit by the missle attack. And that makes trouble for them in the sense that nobody can go to those areas. And if a journalist tries to go there, they are sure for inviting trouble for themselves.”

As we enter the new year, let’s pray that our journalists are safe from harm. Let us also ask the media groups, the publishers, the editors, and ourselves the consumers to have some patience and not put unreasonable demands on the men and women reporting the news. Already journalism can be a thankless and difficult job. But please, no one should have to put their life in danger just to get a headline ten minutes before the next guy.

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