International Conference of News Agencies creates forum for mutual cooperation

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APP20-15 ISLAMABAD: May 15 – A group photo of MD APP Masood Malik with participating artists during concluded session of the two-day International Conference of News Agencies (ICNA) attended by delegates from various countries organized by the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) under the theme, “Pakistan’s Media – Opportunities and Challenges” with special focus on ‘News Agencies – Emerging Professional Challenges on late Monday night. APP photo by Afzaal Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD, May 15 (APP):A two-day International Conference of News Agencies (ICNA) has agreed to establish an International Forum of News Agencies (IFNA) for enhancing their mutual cooperation and coping with the challenges in an environment where the stage quite often is set by the social media.
The conference, held from May 13 to 14, was organized by Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) under the theme “Pakistan’s Media – Opportunities and Challenges”, where the experts and veteran journalists in the field brought the spotlight on diverse issues and an urgent need for the newswires to adopt phenomenal change in various formats of news gathering.
As many as 21 delegates from 18 countries including Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia participated in the conference.
On the first day of the conference, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said media could be an effective tool in bridging the gaps and catering to the appetite for peace and stability among the nations having tense borders.
National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua said Pakistan was a great and peace loving country, which always stood by the world to contribute to global stability and prosperity.
Acting Secretary Information and Broadcasting Shafqat Jalil highlighted aims and objectives of the conference and said free and vibrant media was guarantor of people’s rights and protector of democracy.
In his opening remarks, Managing Director APP Masood Malik said that ICNA would help identify the technical and professional areas for strengthening collaboration, and chalk out a strategy to face challenges in the world of digital media.
Chairman Department of Media and Communication Studies, International Islamic University, Dr Zafar Iqbal said in modern times, the state’s responsibilities had increased manifold and it had to protect its citizens from misuse of social platforms.
Senior journalist, Ziauddin said the developed countries had strict regulations on use of social media as countries like Germany had passed laws to fine websites propagating hate material.
Head of Department Mass Communication NUML, Mufti Jamiluddin said social media provided a lot of information, but its authenticity could be questioned. It had increased print and electronic media’s responsibility in disseminating authentic information.
Dr Jabbar from Rifah University pointed out that media could a play role in shaping behavior of society.
During the interactive session, News Editor Union of OIC News Agency, Saudi Arabia Elsadig Bashir underlined the need for providing correct information by the government officials so that media persons did not misreport.
Former federal minister for information Javed Jabbar suggested that representatives of news agencies from across the world should form a federation and meet annually to share ideas, experiences and strategies to keep growing their role in the challenging age of digital media.
“Holding of the news agencies conference is the best idea as it will unite Muslim countries, especially news agencies. This practice should continue as it will usher in a new era of cooperation among news organizations,” Seyed Bahador Hosseini, Bureau Chief, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) of Iran said.
Director Video News Department, Bulgarian News Agency, Borianka Dimitrova stressed the need for agreements between Pakistan and her country to enhance information and news sharing.
Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Head of English Department Muhammad Mazen Ayon also stressed connectivity and exchanging media persons’ visits and signing agreements among the news agencies.
Gumel Mekova, Chief Correspondent Azerbaijan State News Agency, said Azerbaijan wanted enhanced bilateral cooperation in all spheres.
Mohammad Mehdi Rahimi, General Director of Domestic News, Mehr News Agency Iran said that his country was giving more importance to news from Pakistan as it was its neighbouring country and anything happening in Pakistan had impact in Iran.
Eliswan Azly from Indonesian news agency Antara desired expanded news and videos exchange with APP, as he stated that there were 113 channels in Indonesia and Antara needed footages from Pakistan.
Michalis Psilos, Chief Executive Officer of Greek news agency ANA expressed the need for inking a news exchange agreement with the APP, saying Pakistan was a very important country and Greece wanted to promote bilateral relations with it.
Muhammad Usman of Sudan News Agency (SNA) felt the need for a prompt and efficient news exchange service.
On second day of the conference, the participants highlighted the media’s role in ensuring successful execution of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects by discarding propaganda of anti-CPEC and anti-Pakistan elements.
The moot also decided to set up a five-member Coordination Committee for the operation of International Forum of News Agencies (IFNA) as recommended by the participating countries.
Minister for Defence Khurram Dastgir said Pakistan had re-emerged as a peaceful country that had a growing economy and expanding industry made possible after eliminating energy shortages.
In his concluding remarks, APP managing director urged media professionals, particularly those working with news agencies, to cope with the fake news phenomena without compromising on the accuracy and authenticity of the news.
At the end, the conference adopted recommendations electing APP as the IFNA’s leader, hosting the forum’s annual conference in rotation, creating web portal for sharing text, photos and videos among the member news organizations, deciding establishment of a five-member Coordination Committee for the operation of the platform, agreeing upon operational framework of the newly established portal.
On sidelines of the conference, the APP and National News Agency (NNA) of Lebanon signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to promote collection and distribution of accurate, useful and objective news, with a view to facilitate better understanding between peoples of the respective countries. Masood Malik, APP Managing Director and Laure Sleiman, General Director National News Agency (NNA) of Lebanon signed the MoC on behalf of their organizations.
The foreign delegates also visited the APP headquarters where MD Masood Malik briefed them about working of the premier news agency. Later, a dinner was hosted for the visiting delegates.
A cultural show was also arranged for the delegates. Renowned musicians and folk performers mesmerized the audience with their enthralling performance and highlighted the rich cultural and traditional values of Pakistan.
The delegates also visited scenic sites of the federal capital including Pakistan Monument, Lok Virsa and Daman e Koh, and went for shopping.
The APP Managing Director has thanked the organizers for their untiring efforts to make the conference a success and distributed shields among them. This conference not only highlighted the image of Pakistan as a peace loving country, but also sent a message of warm hospitality and rich culture and traditions across the borders, he added.