CSSPR partakes in Pakistan-India media landscape debate

Ali Zia Jaffery

On September 23, 2020, the research faculty of the Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR) participated in conversation with Fatima Salman (Associate Director, South Asia Center and Atlantic Council). 

The discussion was based on Fatima Salman’s new report titled as ‘Evolving News Media Landscapes in India and Pakistan: Implications for Regional Peace and Stability.’  Ms. Fatima gave an overview of her report, methodologies used, and the findings. She argued that media in India and Pakistan are marred by outdated business models that expose media outlets to government manipulation. 

She added that the landscape is typified by censorship, line-parroting and less fact-based reportage and also asserted that all this has implications on how crises and events of significant nature are covered by the media on both sides of the border.

Rising emotions are, according to Fatima, flared up by provocative reporting by journalists who toe the lines of their respective governments. She recommended more exchange programs between Indian and Pakistani journalists so as to enable media houses to improve the quality and credibility of reporting. She called for the development of more sustainable business models so as to lessen the dependency on the government for financial dole outs. 

The research faculty of CSSPR discussed with the author some of the issues she raised in the report. First, the faculty members talked about why it is important to assess the media landscape through a focused, local lens, rather than doing so through one broad framework. 

Second, the faculty drew attention towards the burgeoning power of the media in Pakistan, and how it is becoming a hindrance in the workings of the government. The emphasis was laid on discussing the phenomenon of fake news that has dented the credibility of the media.

Third, the faculty encouraged the author to tweak the methodology in a follow up study, in a manner that allows for more nuance in the understanding of the evolving contours of the media.  The faculty further argued that the media should be accountable to the public and all efforts must be made for them to remain responsible.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

“Media freedom should be used for public and societal benefits, something that will result in pushing the media to give quality, credible news and analyses to both the public and policymakers”, she suggested. 

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