Consultative session held to include conflict coverage,crisis communication in universities curriculum

APP42-10 ISLAMABAD: November 10 - Dr. Mehdi Hassan, Expert, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Chairman HEC, Absar Alam Chairman PEMRA, Shabbir Anwar CEO PPC during “National Consultation for Course Development on Conflict Coverage & Crisis Communications – organised by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage at Higher Education Commission. APP

ISLAMABAD, Nov 10 (APP):A national consultation on course development, titled “Conflict Coverage and Crisis Communications” for mass media departments of universities was jointly organized by Pakistan Peace Collective (PPC), a research and communications
project of Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and Higher Education Commission here.
Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Absar Alam, speaking on the occasion, called upon
the electronic media to implement the code of conduct, prepared by itself.
“It is our duty as journalists to report as accurately and responsibly as possible on this issue. We cannot use
our platform to glorify, sensationalize or traumatize, as the words we use and the images we show have an enormous
impact on our viewers/readers. We do not want to further the aims of the terrorists by terrorizing the people through
the images, we show,” said Absar Alam.
The institution of editor has become extinct and now the owners rule the roost, he added.
He said that the curriculum should teach the students to report facts and correct events and race for breaking
news should not force the media to compromise professionally.
He said that a section of the media was involved in sensationalization of event which creates panic among the
common people.
In this connection, he referred to the audio tape played by one satellite news channel claiming it was soundbite
of the ill-fated PIA plane which crashed last year. He also cited the incident of Charsadda blast in which a professor
was killed and whose pictures were being flashed by the media, causing mental agony to the relatives. He also quoted
the cylinder blast in Gulberg last year which was reported as a suicidal blast and news of another blast in Lahore created
panic and mothers rushed to the schools which caused traffic jams. In all these incidents, PEMRA imposed fine and
asked the management of the respective channel to apologize, but they went to court.
While appreciating the initiative, Chairman HEC Mukhtar Ahmed expressed confidence that the proposed course
would ensure the required support to fulfill the needs of knowledge development on critical thinking, emotional intelligence,
peace building and sensitization on conflict reporting.
He said that electronic media in Pakistan was still very young and it will take time to mature.
He said that the recommendations of the consultation would be incorporated in the curriculum to be finalized for
mass communication departments of the national universities. He said too much negativity on the media was causing
tensions, and there was a need to highlight positive aspects of the society.
More than 30 experts representing the academic, government and media circles attended it. The experts delivered
their professional, technical and subject related input in accordance with their knowledge and experience.
Marium Khan, Director General (Counter-Violence & Extremism) National Counter Terrorism Authority said this
national consultation brought people on board from broad spectrum from the industries, This is also one of the mandated
tasks of the nascent National Counter Terrorism Authority of Pakistan (NACTA) to develop course on Conflict Coverage
and Crisis Communication that will eventually benefit the National Narrative to be presented to Federal Government
sooner forming the policy on Counter Terrorism & Extremism”, she said.
The representatives from universities of Punjab, Baluchistan, Sindh, Peshawar, International Islamic University,
University of Central Punjab, Karachi University, Federal Urdu University Karachi, University of Sargodha, and Lahore
College of Women University have incorporated their recommendation for curriculum, also representation from
mainstream TV Channels and senior journalists were there for their technical input as media practitioners.
This consultation will, resultantly help in developing a holistic view of conflicts and violence in the society and
educate the students on means and methods to reflect the same through various mediums of communication including
formal media. The three credit hours’ course will help to sensitize the Pakistani students on issues concerning violence
and crises including those resulting out of extremist tendencies.
It would expectantly provide the students with the national and international perspective on the subject. The
consultative process is also aiming to foster the integration of the entitled course in the revised curriculum of discipline
namely `Mass Communication’ and `Media Studies’ for all the universities in Pakistan.