ISLAMABAD - Media professionals, civil society activists got together for third two-day national media conference here and agreed that media is an integral part and pre-condition for strong and stable democracy. The conference that ended yesterday was organized Individualland Pakistan, a research based consulting and advocacy firm with the collaboration of Friedrich Naumann Foundation.

The conference was attended by journalists, media personnel and civil society members from across Pakistan . This year’s conference was titled ‘evolution of media: requirements, facts and fears from a free, independent and responsible media’s (FIRM) perspective.’

Addressing the participants, Angela Aggeler, Counselor for Public Affairs, US Embassy said that training of media persons is a must to make them capable of providing accurate information to the general public. She said that provision of accurate information to the general public is one of the main responsibility of media persons.

“Media need to provide accurate news to the general public as provisison of false information is better than no information as false information is highly dangerous for state and general public”  Angela Aggeler, said.

In her opening remarks Gulmina Bilal Ahmad, Executive Director Individualland Pakistan said: “I sometimes visualize our media as a car racing event, where every driver wants to reach the finish line before the other without caring for smaller bumps and speed breakers and without looking into the rearview mirror. But now is the time to introduce a rearview mirror in these cars.”

She said that according to PFUJ as many as 18,000 journalists working in Pakistan but the training of media personnel is very limited in country. Few organizations try to provide more trainings to the journalists. Individualland Pakistan has outreach in 76 districts of Pakistan and provides training to approximately 3,000 journalists. She said that the main objective of the national media conference 2013 is to get an idea from journalists as to what can be done to improve journalism in the country.

Toby Mendel Executive Director Centre for Law and Democracy while highlighting the importance of Right to Information (RTI) law he said that the quality of access to information is improving with passage of time. “ Pakistan had adopted Right to Information Law in 2002 but unfortunately it is very week law”, he said.

 Mukhtar Ahmed Ali, Chief of Party Citizen’s voice project also highlighted the need of ‘Right to Information (RTI)’ and the role of media in a democratic society. He said that KP government has launch a strong to RTI law but unfortunately federal government and government of Balochistan has taken no initiative in this regard.

Panelists focused on the need of training facilities for journalists working in different media houses around the country. The experts said that media houses must focus on in-house training facilities for journalists to attain better standards of reporting.

On the second day of the conference, the third session titled ‘strengthening press clubs’ chaired by Mr Saleem Shahid, Senior Journalist from Balochistan focused on the need to improve and strengthen the existing press clubs.–PR