The conference raises a number of critical questions for Indo-Pak journalists: can the media aid in defusing/raising tensions between the two countries; can the editors agree on mutual terms of reference or a code of ethics; can journalists be in agreement regarding the use of terminology or other operational details that puts them on the same page; and critically, over issues where editors agree to disagree.
The Indian journalists who arrived on Monday include: Arindam Sengupta (Times of India), Barkha Dutt (NDTV), Bharat Bhushan (Mail Today), Diwakar Asthana (Times of India), Rajdeep Sardesai (CNN-IBN), Shravan Gharg (Dainik Bhaskar), Siddharth Varadarajan (The Hindu). Kanak Dixit, editor of Himal Southasian (Kathmandu) will moderate the discussion between the Indian and Pakistani journalists. S. Panneerselvan (Executive Director of Panos South Asia) is also among the participants.
Senior editors and anchors from Pakistan will interact and attempt to better understand the freedoms and constraints of their Indian counterparts, as well as deliberate the substantive issues that seem critical in any dispute resolution between the two countries.
The conference becomes all the more pertinent in today's age, given that control over ideological hegemony and powers of coercion have traditionally been associated with the state. Now, however, the greater-than-ever influence enjoyed by the media in India and Pakistan has served to question the somewhat parochial state narratives across both sides of the border.
The thawing of acrimony between India and Pakistan, and the propagation of a people-centric agenda has been the aspiration of many journalists, but till now, no meaningful debate has ever been conducted on the role of editors and anchorpersons in defusing tensions between the two countries.
"It was very heartening for us, in India, to see that Geo TV broke the story about Ajmal Kasab's Pakistani citizenship. A Pakistani channel breaking the story had a far greater impact than if an Indian, or any other international channel ran the story. What is important is that people on both sides of the border confront their realities," Rajdeep Sardesai told The News.
Other Indian journalists argued that editorial discretion, without any censorship, is critical in ensuring that jingoistic rhetoric does not turn into widely-accepted reality. Bharat Bhushan said that eventually, jingoism seems to be popular because not only does it sell, but an extremist is also predictable, and one can always anticipate what he/she will say. "Ultimately, while all news items are published, it is up to the editor to take a position and discourage hate-mongering," he said.
"Peace in and of itself has become a tired discourse," commented Barkha Dutt, explaining that labelling of different dynamics and processes is hugely problematic, and does not solve anything.
Arindam Sengupta argued that the primary responsibility of journalists is not to act as activists, but to be fair to their professional responsibilities, and provide the full and factual information to their readers, and ones that are without slants.
"The media in both India and Pakistan is confused," said Shravan Gharg. "Whatever sells - be it peace or war - seems to be aired. Peace has to be taken as a process, rather than as an event, but it should be remembered that peace in the abstract is doomed to failure," he said.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
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Page 44 of 174
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw