The Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) expressed grave concern over the delay of the tabling protection of journalist bill in national assembly despite Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announcement three months ago. The RMNP highlighted the grave situation in a unanimous resolution passed in the concluding ceremony of three-day Safety of Journalists Training Workshop. The workshop was organised by the RMNP in collaboration with UNESCO.It was attended by seventeen journalists including five female contributors hailing from Bahawalpur,Bahawalnagar and RahimYarKhan districts.District president press club Bahawalnagar Muhammad Ahmed Chaudhry was also participant of this training.
Before start of the sessions of safety of journalists training workshop a Pre- Test has been conducted and journalists have been taken a five questions based test. The purpose is to inquire and assess the level of their capacity and capability. The participants were having practical experience from two to thirty years but surprisingly no one attended safety related workshop before. The participants had also faced hostile environment many a times while performing their professional duties but they did not find any opportunity to learn how to tackle the hostile situations amicably.
During the safety workshop the resource persons Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shahzad Rana , Mr. Nasir Hameed, Mr. Nauman Masood Khan and Prof. Shahzad Ahmed Khan incorporated their valuable lectures in three days of various sessions. Professor Shahzad Ahmed Khan also gave extensive lecture on the Islamic aspects of the safety of a person. He also shared his experience of UPR sessions of Geneva when he was participated as a special delegate in 2012. Mr. Noor Gill Officer from special technical wing of Punjab Police explained in detail the types of terrorist activities and explosive devices used in insurgency and terrorism. He also described the types of explosive materials and its general identification. The resource persons covered the topics such as the real threats for reporters; avoid possible danger; safety guidelines; writing a sensitive story; covering violent mob and agitation; contact and relations with sources; professional ethics; accurate and balanced reporting; risky information and cross check; reporting in high risk environment; pressure and threats; covering a bomb blast; first aid guidelines; stories that invoke violent reaction; covering religious congregations, digital security, stories about land and drug mafias, how to cover terrorist trial in court, reporting in areas under security administrative control etc.
The Resource persons told them to be careful while covering sensitive issues. They should not file one sided stories and both parties of the dispute should be given chance to clarify their version. While covering extremists and militant group’s activities they should concentrate on facts and avoid sensationalizing the stories. Death accounts should be confirmed and verified by the relevant quarters. First aid and its techniques were also taught in detail. The TV channel correspondents keenly observed and learnt the techniques of camera work while covering mob and hostile zone as discussed by resource person
Resource persons advised the participants to keep distance from religious groups and avoid mentioning speeches that generate hatred among different sects of Islam. While covering bomb blast incidents they should not rush to the spot without any precautions and take all necessary steps for their safety. Coverage should be done at certain distance and keep in touch with police and other law enforcement agencies. Casualties should be mentioned with utmost care and rumours should not be made part of the news.
Resource persons taught them how to report and handle the situation after bomb blast. The mechanism of identification of various bombs like bobby trap, mines and parcel bomb were also discussed. They stated the precautionary measures for the journalist who is assigned for the reporting of violent mob. Resource persons covered topics of sensitive stories, contacts and relations with militant groups, how to cover violent mobs and the real threats during various sessions of three days workshop.
The practical exercises regarding reporting on sensitive & conflicted issues and question-answer sessions were also conducted after every lecture demonstration.The training manual of regarding safety of the journalist published by RMNP and other relevant hand-outs, RF charter, RSF hand book, UNESCO Cds were also distributed among the participants.
The Participants of the workshop filled up a questionnaire related to their professional work and safety issues and they expressed grave concern regarding their security and safety issues while performing journalistic activities. All were facing same threats from religious extremist, local politicians, and criminals.
The 17 Journalists/Participants also filled up personal evaluation forms regarding performance and evaluation of the trainer & resource persons of the training programme.All the participants termed it encouraging for the grooming of local correspondent and demanded of more workshops may schedule in future. They paid esteemed satisfaction over the course work and presentations of the resource persons.They appreciated the role of RMNP and UNESCO to sensitize the issues of safety and security of the local journalists.
The comprehensive post test has also been taken by the participants consisted upon the assessment of the three days training module. The assessment given by the resource persons after examining the post test was up to the mark and pretty good.The participants have been become able to secure their security in hostile environment. The 90% answers were related and conceptual to the theme of their security and safety issue which were discussed in the lectures of the experts.
Certificate giving ceremony was held on 18th March, in which Assistant Commissioner AhmedpurEast Waqar Hussein was the chief guest.He lauded the role of RMNP and UNESCO for organising safety training for the journalists of remote areas.He hoped that the journalists who came from different far-flung areas would transfer the acquired skills to their other colleagues of their locality who are not yet benefitted with safety training.Later he delivered certificates among all seventeen participants.