05/14/2018, 15.31
PAKISTAN
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Bishop of Lahore: Pakistan needs peace journalism

by Kamran Chaudhry

Mgr Shaw speaks out on World Day of Social Communications. "[R]rumors and sensational opinion pieces are the cause of conflicts,” he said. For Muslim journalist, “There is an ongoing war between news channels for ratings and breaking news.”

Lahore (AsiaNews) – Yesterday was the 52nd World Day of Social Communications. For the occasion, a ‘Symposium on Fake News and Journalism for Peace’ was held on Saturday at the Rabita Manzil, the office of the Social Communications Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan.

Mgr Sebastian Francis Shaw, archbishop of Lahore, took part in the event with several Muslim clerics and journalists. In his address, he said that “peace journalism is a great need of our society”.

Following Pope Francis, who chose “The truth will set you free (Jn 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace’ as the theme for this year’s event, the prelate said, “We only need stories that are good for the community. Reports based on rumors and sensational opinion pieces are the cause of conflicts in our country. People should avoid reacting to [online] posts insulting any person or religion”.

In view of this, the archbishop called on media workers to become part of the "holy mission and reject war journalism".

Hyacinth Peter, executive secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of Major Religious Superiors Leadership Conference, also urged media to pay attention to victims. Sadly, “Instead of helping the victims, cameramen are more interested in getting comments,” he said.

What is more, “Live coverage of terror incidents increases fear and terror in society. Many weekly and monthly publications generate revenue by hiring reporters whose only job is to blackmail people,” he added.

The conference provide a venue to present to the public a short film about the February 2017 kamikaze attack in Lahore against a protest by pharmacists. Fr Qaiser Feroz, director of the Rabita Manzil, read the Pope's message on the Day translated into Urdu.

Syed Farzand Ali Shah, of Daily Islam, agrees with the pope, except for one point. “Journalism is not a mission in present day Pakistan. There is an ongoing war between news channels for ratings and breaking news. Instead of educating the masses, the focus is more on business,” he lamented.

In one instance, “The Pakistan army started operations against the Taliban in 2009 after footage showed a 17-year-old girl being flogged by Islamic militants in the northwestern region of Swat. Later we learnt that it was a fake clip made by an NGO. We demand strict action against such groups and organisations.”

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