In a society where a culture of violence and machismo seems to have become entrenched, journalists whose job it is to report on events and developments both positive and otherwise can often find themselves in a difficult situation. This was again illustrated by a couple of incidents that transpired earlier this week. At the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, the institution`s security personnel rained blows and kicks on journalists belonging to Samaa TV who had arrived to cover a student-related incident.
The media persons had earlier been refused entry into the premises but were filming the university from outside, as was their right, when the guards attacked them. Journalists from other TV channels who reached the scene in support of their colleagues were meted out the same treatment. Then in Islamabad, media persons filming what appeared to be electricity theft by a madressah, were set upon by the seminary students who beat them and pelted them with stones.
Both incidents reinforce the dangers that journalists in Pakistan have to contend with on a daily basis, even when they are not engaged in tasks that may be hazardous. However, despite the injuries sustained, it is fortunate that no one lost their life on this occasion. Far too many times, journalists in this country have paid the ultimate price for attempting to fulfil their duty to keep their audience abreast of up-to-date, accurate information because very often that information is deleterious to the interests of one party or the other. Earlier this month, Bakhshish Elahi, senior journalist and bureau chief of a local newspaper, was shot dead; his colleagues are convinced that his reporting was the motive. Admittedly, our rambunctious electronic media has not always conducted itself according to journalistic ethics. There have been many instances when it has been intrusive, voyeuristic and sensationalist. That said, there is no excuse for violence, and the government should ensure that the culprits are brought to book. Shooting the messenger should not be an option.