Editorial: We Vow to Stay Critical

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Today is World Press Freedom Day as proclaimed by UN General Assembly. May 3rd is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day since 1994. The day of 3rd May was chosen for this purpose because it marks the anniversary of Declaration of Windhoek which was announced in Windhoek, Namibia in 1991. This declaration believed in strong connections between a fully independent press and successful participatory democracy and called for independent and pluralistic media throughout the world.
Read also: Fake News is Not Journalism
This year the theme of this day is the need to counter the fake news emerging from unchecked flow of information in the cyber world. The advent of social media and digital journalism has made it very difficult to differentiate between real and fake news. As a result fake news has become a huge problem and it has even allegedly affected the outcome of US presidential elections held November last year. Therefore there is a need, like never before, to develop understanding among the masses so that they can spot fake news. That’s the only way to deal with the issue and devising any mechanism to filter fake news is almost impossible.

There is a need, like never before, to develop understanding among the masses so that they can spot fake news

Moreover, this day once again reminds the journalists about the need to be critical in their approach. Being critical is what journalism is all about. Media is the fourth pillar of state because it has to use its critical approach to monitor other pillars of the state and report it to the masses, if any other pillar is not going by the book. Media will lose its place as fourth pillar of state if it gives up criticism and only highlight the positive stories coming from the society. In that context, criticism is not only the paramount right but also prime responsibility of vibrant media.
In case of Pakistan in general and Balochistan in particular, people who don’t want to be held accountable, discourage the critical approach of media. Such people focus on the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism and the need to be balanced in writing. All of these are mere pretexts to prevent media from doing its job of being critical which is not fair and also not acceptable.

Criticism is not only the paramount right but also prime responsibility of vibrant media

Narrowing down to Balochistan, media has earned a bad name due to the conduct of different journalists and media organizations. There is no denying of the fact that people within media are responsible for giving it a bad name and tarnishing its credibility. However the fact needs to be realized that main reason of corruption in journalist community is the economic insecurity which forces the journalists to use corrupt practices to earn livelihood. We don’t defend the corruption within the journalist fraternity but merely want to highlight the main cause behind it. Having said that journalists in Balochistan have to improve their quality of work and professionalism to earn back their lost credibility. They also need to identify and control the black sheep within their ranks.
In this backdrop the role of Media development organizations is extremely important. A lot of such organizations are working in Balochistan and barring few noble exceptions others are just minting money. Donor organizations of media development organizations have to ensure that they only fund those organizations who do meaningful and effective work for uplift of journalism in Balochistan.

Main reason of corruption in journalist community is the economic insecurity which forces the journalists to use corrupt practices to earn livelihood

Furthermore, Government of Balochistan also needs to realize its responsibility towards media in the province. Government should not use DGPR to control Print Media but also facilitate this industry in all ways possible like a responsible government. It should also instruct all relevant officers to share information with media whenever needed. Government should not view the media from a lens of press release publisher only anymore.
Lastly, we at Balochistan Voices once again reiterate our commitment to free media in Balochistan, within our constraints. We will not be intimidated and will keep on providing voice to voiceless in our society. We will adhere to our Editorial Policy and will focus on socio-economic issues as our prime focus.

Team Balochistan Voices will not be intimidated and will keep on providing voice to voiceless in our society

Once again, on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2017, Team of Balochistan Voices vows to stay critical!
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Balochistan Voices
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Adnan Aamir is founder and Editor of Balochistan Voices. He also contributes for The News, The News on Sunday and Newsline Magazine amongst others as a freelancer.