Pakistani and Indian editors have met at such conferences before. What made this event significant was that the organisers were mainstream media houses rather than non-government organisations. "This is what gave this meeting more weight than previous such initiatives," commented S. Panneerselvan, Executive Director Panos South Asia, who kicked off the first day's discussion with a presentation based on the findings of nine years of meetings organised by Panos between Pakistani and Indian media gatekeepers.
Participating journalists from India were Arindam Sengupta (Editor in Chief, Times of India), Diwakar Asthana (Bureau Chief, Times of India), Swaminathan S. Aiyar (Consulting Editor, Economic Times), Siddharth Vardarajan (Deputy Editor, The Hindu), Barkha Dutt (Group Editor, NDTV), Rajdeep Sardesai (Editor in Chief CNN-IBN), Shravan Garg (Editor in Chief, Dainik Bhaskar), and Bharat Bhushan (Editor, Mail Today).
From Pakistan, editors and anchors included Rehana Hakim (Editor, Newsline), Arifa Noor (Editor, Herald), Ejaz Haider (Editor Newsweek Pakistan) Shaheen Salahuddin (Director News, Indus TV), Mehmood Shaam (Group Editor, Jang), Arif Nizami (former editor The Nation), Hamid Mir (Executive Editor, Geo News), Imran (President Geo TV), Azhar Abbas (Managing Director Geo News), Kamran Khan (Group Editor Investigations, Jang Group, Geo TV), Talat Aslam (Editor, The News Karachi), and Mohammad Malick (Editor, The News, Islamabad).
The closed-door discussion took place in a frank and open atmosphere. Participants agreed on the need to create more empathy for each other's country, and for more "cross-border information". Many of these points were underscored in the following day's lively interaction. Kanak Mani Dixit, Editor of Himal Southasian, Kathmandu, moderated both discussions, bringing a much-needed regional perspective to bi-lateral issues.
Editors made several suggestions to improve coverage leading to heightened understanding of each other's country, including the need to reinforce journalism best practices, like not avoiding single-source reports, or questioning reports originating from government agencies.
Visa restrictions and financial constraints have perhaps contributed to greater understanding as editors have had to draw upon commentators and reporters from across the border, leading to diverse points of view being broadcast or published in their channels and publications.
Some suggestions that came up have been made before at various platforms, like easing visa restrictions and restrictions on each other's media, allowing journalists easier access, and ending the bar on cell phone roaming between Pakistan and India (a restriction unique to these two countries).
Editors suggested broadening the coverage of India-Pakistan issues beyond geopolitics, ensuring a more rigorous reportage of economic, infrastructural and cultural issues. Training workshops for reporters on specific issues like Kashmir, water, and terrorism, for example would help raise the level of reporting in general, and on India-Pakistan issues specifically.
There was a suggestion to develop a code of ethics on issues of mutual concern or guidelines between Indian and Pakistani media practitioners, and a website to allow editors and media practitioners to engage with each other across the border and help defuse tensions.
Drawing up and sharing a large database of media commentators would provide a wider pool of analysts to draw from and allow for more circumspection at times of crisis. A related suggestion was to monitor television talk shows to analyse how often hawkish voices are invited on air compared to more nuanced, complex views. Another suggestion was to facilitate more exchange and interaction among junior and mid-level reporters, editors and producers from the media in each country.
While the session on Day 1 evolved a blueprint for peace and more responsible reportage on matters concerning the two neighbours, Day 2 focussed on the role of media in a nuclear South Asia. Imran Aslam of Geo Network said that sometimes, the media was influenced by the public, and at other times, it moulded public opinion. ''It is important to look at things from a learning approach, rather than a perspective to score points against each other,'' he argued.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
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Page 21 of 175
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