Arshad Sharif, a television news anchor who was abruptly fired by his network in September, was fatally slain in Kenya a month later under strange circumstances. During the long march, TV reporter Sadaf Naeem was killed after he fell from a truck carrying Imran Khan and other Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders and was crushed to death near Sadhoke. Leaders looking to gain ground in the ne
Even though Naeem died while performing his job, the circumstances surrounding Sharif’s death were very different, it is nonetheless important to note since it highlights the hazards that journalists must contend with.ver-ending argument over “who is the worst fascist?” politicised both terrible deaths.
A Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) reporter who begged to remain anonymous said that Naeem’s announcement brought back memories of her trip with Khan to Peshawar in May for his rally. Back then, neither she nor her crew had any safety gear. She didn’t say it, but I knew what she was contemplating: it might have been her.
This KP journalist is accustomed to hazardous working conditions because they covered KP when terrorism was at its worst after 9/11. The channel had subsequently given some protection gear to key personnel. When the violence subsided, the equipment was recalled, but as she points out, “violence hasn’t exactly halted altogether.” Even now, while entering circumstances that are obviously dangerous, she hardly sees any other reporters wearing protective gear.
There is no denying that Karachi is a violent environment. Journalist Tooba Masood Khan recalls the 2012 bombing of former SSP Chaudhry Aslam’s residence in DHA. She was urged to go to the area to “check things out” because no one else was in the newsroom when the explosion occurred because she lived nearby. She tells me that when she arrived there, she realised, “I had absolutely no notion what I was meant to accomplish.” “At the time, I was a new journalist who knew nothing about what journalists do or what safety was. Nobody had mentioned anything to me or informed me.
However, how can it be put into practise? Naeem’s murder has sparked a much-needed dialogue about the absence of safety training for journalists. It seems like a hopeless task to ask media executives or journalists not to pursue stories for ratings. Making sure that reporters, cameramen, and any other field personnel are protected should be the main concern and top priority.
Media owners are required to give their staff safety training both at the beginning of their employment and “before to engaging in reporting or any journalistic job in any location,” as per the 2021-passed Protection of Journalist and Media Professionals Bill. The training needed for journalists working in hazardous environments is then described, including health and environmental hazards training (HEHT), avoidance, deterrence, and escape training (ADET), and kidnapping and crisis How many of my journalist colleagues are aware that this is required by law, I wonder.
In addition, the law mandates that media proprietors must pay journalists on schedule and refrain from unjustifiably withholding their compensation.
Because writing, editing, and analysing the grim picture of Pakistan puts a strain on journalists’ mental health in the first place, the delay in salary payments is particularly immoral. As I conduct study on newsroom culture, I keep running with journalists who have had enough of the financial uncertainty and have left the profession.
Additionally, media proprietors are required to offer life and health insurance to journalists covered by contracts as well as to anyone working without a contract in a hazardous environment response training (KCRT).
I have sympathy for journalists who are only respected when they are bringing their media owners the revenue-generating eyeballs. Is it cynical to believe that the panel set up to look into Sharif’s death in Kenya won’t produce any results? In its 2013 report, a similar panel that was established to examine into Saleem Shahzad’s 2011 slaying in Islamabad stated that it had “failed to identify the criminals despite having probed very hard for considerable evidence, direct or circumstantial.”
In 2022, Pakistan ranked fifth on the list of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists to cover. Khan was labelled a “press predator” by Reporters Without Borders a year prior because Pakistan’s Press Freedom Index dropped by 12 points.
Between May 2021 and April 2022 in Pakistan, Freedom Network documented at least 86 instances of assaults and other breaches against the media and those who work in it.
By any standard, these data sets are terrible. When I questioned a 28-year-old male reporter about whether any of this was on his mind when he headed out to cover events in Karachi, he simply shrugged his shoulders and responded that he needed the rush of adrenaline to report effectively.
What is safety training, and what are the advantages? 247 journalists from around the world were polled in 2017 by the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma regarding their safety training. According to the study, many journalists adopted new habits after receiving training, such as taking first aid supplies on assignments or paying closer attention.
According to the research, the majority of journalists required refresher training in areas such as technology, digital media, crime scene management, and medical understanding, to mention a few. Cost was the main obstacle to training, and while 57 percent of the journalists’ training was funded by their companies, the remaining portion was not.
One of the best methods to combat misinformation may be to ensure that journalists are properly trained and feel secure doing their jobs.
This won’t help Naeem’s kids, who apparently didn’t want their mother to work that fatal Sunday, but it might stop other working journalists’ fathers and moms from dying in the line of duty.