Association of Multicultural Journalists (AMJ)

I spoke today at a seminar organized by the Association of Multicultural Journalists (AMJ) about the state of the press freedom in Pakistan. The participants of the conference were mainly students from Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication who had either newly entered the field of journalism or intended to join the profession in the future.

Many of them were surprised about the hardships  journalists faced in conflict-stricken countries. They wondered if the government provided security to the reporters. In response, I said the greatest service the government could ever do to the journalists was not to shoot, kidnap or torture them. Otherwise, media professionals were very contended without having official security.

I also shared the story of The Baloch Hal; how it was started by “three idiots” ten months ago and soon was quoted in several top South Asian and Middle Eastern English newspapers. I said we spoke for the people who still do not have access to electricity, clean drinking water, health facilities even in the 21st century.

” Do a lot of people in Balochistan know about your online newspaper?,” asked one of the professors from the audience.

“Not yet,” I said, “it may take fifty more years to certain parts of Balochistan to have access to electricity, computer, internet and education of English language.”

In the United States, there is a boom about online journalism and its convergence with social networks. All newspapers have started sharing their their stories on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. They say the future of journalism hinges on online media.

I must thank Daryl Bjoraas, president of the Association of Multicultural Journalists, for arranging this excellent interaction for the Hubert Humphrey Fellows. I enjoyed the meeting. Quality of questions raised by the audience was exceedingly impressive.

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