–President suggests economic progress will translate into positive changes for media industry
–Tells media to be self-reliant, exercise freedom with ‘responsibility and self-regulation’
–Info minister urges media groups to adopt sustainable business model, employ ‘economy-friendly’ reporting
–CPNE President Arif Nizami expresses concerns over restrictions on right to information
ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi said on Friday that media was playing a crucial role in strengthening the democratic culture and values in the country, adding that the economic progress in the country will translate into positive changes for the media industry.
“Media should support the government by allocating considerable space and time for public awareness on issues, like inheritance rights and stunted growth of children,” he said while addressing a media convention titled “Media and Democracy: Towards Free, Independent and Sustainable Media in Pakistan”, organised by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) in Islamabad.
President Alvi suggested that the media industry should create its own revenue streams instead of depending on the advertisements given by the government.
Highlighting the need to develop self-reliant business models for media houses, he said that freedom of the press was a fundamental right but it should be exercised with “responsibility and self-regulation”.
“We believe in freedom of press, but we also believe in responsibility of the press,” the president said while responding to CPNE office-bearers’ concern over the media policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
The president also spoke of the diverse trends in the current age and said the young generation was hooked on the social media rather than print publications.
Speakers at a seminar also vowed to continue their struggle to ensure press freedom amid pressure from certain quarters by upholding the traditions of objective journalism and make joint efforts so as to save print media from dying.
FAWAD SAYS MEDIA NEEDS SUSTAINABLE MODEL:
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary also addressed the event and advised the media to adopt a sustainable business model which was not dependent on the government.
“Ultimately, the media should have a sustainable model that is not reliant on the government,” the minister said, urging the council to conduct a study on the recent crisis plaguing the industry.
He extended the government’s help but said the CPNE was the best platform to conduct such a study and establish as to who was responsible for it.
The minister urged the media to support a positive narrative regarding the country’s economy. “A sustainable media is necessary for creating a stable economy,” he said, adding that the media’s narrative should be “economy-friendly”.
Referring to the problems of the media industry, Fawad said advertisements worth Rs300 million to Rs350 million were issued to the print media during the ongoing month.
Speaking about the advertisement campaigns, he estimated that approximately Rs2.7 billion were spent on digital media marketing.
“The [share of] digital advertising in the industry will be at Rs7bn in the next five years,” the minister said while urging print media to develop its digital versions.
He clarified that speaking of new developments was not tantamount to discouraging media and reiterated that the government stood by the print media industry. However, he added, a long-term solution to the issues was needed.
CPNE PRESIDENT UNDERLINES GAGS ON PRESS:
Addressing the participants, CPNE President Arif Nizami highlighted restrictions on the right to information and expressed the concerns of certain newspapers.
He said that self-regulation should be practiced but ground realities must also be realised. “Big media houses should contribute to the endowment fund so that the Press Council of Pakistan can play its due role.”
Nizami also said the entire mechanism of media organisations was evolving with rapid technological innovations and the role of editors was diminishing. “Now agenda-driven journalism and editors have been left with a limited role,” he added.
Zaffar Abbas said the editors’ institution needs to be strengthened and CPNE has a key role to play in this regard. Aijazul Haq said the prevailing situation required belt-tightening measures so as to pass through the critical phase. “One needs to adopt innovative models to meet the emerging challenges. Not only public advertisements have shrunken, but commercial advertisement has decreased as well,” he added.
Yousuf Nizami shared how his publication, Pakistan Today, had decided to adopt the “web-first model” soon after the media industry received the first blow of the ongoing financial crunch.
“A newsroom-driven policy and an innovative model was also adopted. We started to invest in our website and used other social media modules as well. Our weekly magazine, Paperazzi, too was put online and on Instagram, which turned out to be a major success. Content development was given a major focus as good content attracts online followers,” he added.
Senior journalist Wusatullah Khan said media owners always fought for their own interests and no unity was forged.
Owais Aslam said self-regulation should be introduced, plagiarism be discouraged and respect for copyrights be had. “A dialogue should be initiated between all stakeholders,” he added.