Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) organised a training session for Pakistani and Afghan journalists chosen under the Pak-Afghan Media Collaboration for a journalist exchange programme.
Five Afghan and five Pakistani journalists had been selected to spend up to a week in the other country to conduct research in collaboration with media partners. The trainees included the five Afghan journalists who were visiting Pakistan under the exchange programme and the Pakistani journalists who were to proceed to Afghanistan the following week under the programme.
The Pak-Afghan media collaboration is an initiative by PIPS in Pakistan and the Killid Group (TKG) in Afghanistan aimed at enhancing co-operation between the electronic and print media of the two countries and facilitating for media houses and journalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan access to balanced information, and elaborate analysis and perspective about the neighbouring country. International Media Support (IMS) has provided financial support and training expertise for the initiative.
The training covered the media landscape and challenges in Pakistan, preparation of an effective news report, specific challenges for media in armed conflict, and human rights sensitive reporting and editing. The trainers were Adnan Rehmat and Aurangzeb Khan from Intermedia and Muhammad Amir Rana and Najam U Din from PIPS.
The training highlighted the emergence of a robust and vibrant media in both Pakistan and Afghanistan in the last decade as a rare opportunity and emphasised the importance of its pivotal role as a watchdog of public interest and in telling the story as it was. The trainee journalists were taught how to develop an effective story with objectivity, and being mindful of ethical aspects of reporting. The journalists learned that the best way to find the right answers was to do meticulous research and to ask the right questions. The peculiar challenges of reporting in a situation of armed conflict, the additional vulnerabilities it brought for the journalists and how to address those was also discussed. The significance of reporters understanding basic human rights issues irrespective of their beats was emphasised as was the need to understand that in their reporting they must seek views across genders, age groups and religious beliefs to ensure balanced coverage and to be aware of issues and concerns of various segments of population.
The training also provided the selected journalists with an opportunity to interact not only with the journalist selected from their partner media organisation but also with the other journalists selected from the two countries. The journalists selected in the pilot phase of the project in 2011 shared their experiences and highlighted challenges to joint research for Pakistani and Afghan journalists, particularly lack of communication, the language barrier and the security restrictions.
The journalists thanked the trainers and PIPS, TKG and IMS for the initiative and added that it was vital that such cross-border media collaborations continued as at least in the short term it might not have been possible for them or their organisations to arrange visit to the other country to research on human interest stories in collaboration with media organisations in the other country.