Journalists, social media gurus and blogging activists gathered to discuss the impact of digital technology on the global media dynamics at Kuch Khaas on Monday.
They zeroed in on the fact that Pakistan has been slow in the catch up and the mainstream media is still experimenting to converge with digital technologies and new media. Furthermore, the speakers explored the initiatives that can catalyse the media’s convergence with the digital world.
Moderated by Hasan Belal, the first session discussed the prevalence and credibility of citizen journalism in the country. They dissected the intricacies of being responsible journalists, citizen journalists or citizens.
Blogger and tweeter Faisal Kapadia noted that while citizen journalism has been prevalent in the country for some time, it gathered momentum over the last two years. He highlighted the Abbas Town incident, wherein people tweeted and posted pictures online much faster than mainstream media reporters. He added that while various incidents can be reported through social media, news coverage aims to enhance the story.
Branding Bees’ co-founder Fatima Akhtar said citizen journalists are the watchdogs of media. She talked about the campaigns and initiatives undertaken by Samaa and Dawn TV over the years, in encouraging individuals to take pictures and tell their own stories.
Irfan Hussain said the medium is still a work in progress. Unlike a traditional newsroom, there are no rules or policies in place for the sphere for citizen journalism.
Another journalist, Yusra Askari underlined that mainstream and citizen journalist can coexist and there is no need for demarcating one from the other.
Moderated by Puruesh Chaudhary, the second session talked about the prevalence and effectiveness of digital journalism in the country.
The Express Tribune Web-Editor Jahanzaib Haque shared the trends on the newspaper’s website. He talked about using Google Analytics to track news trends on his smartphone. “It’s a passive way of the users to tell us what stories they are interested in,” he said. He also highlighted another software Chart Beat, that was recommended to the entire staff by the paper’s publisher.
Intermedia Research and Communications Director Sadaf Baig and independent journalist Taha Siddiqui compared the challenges and examples of conventional and digital media. In their respective presentations, they showed how the internet afforded more space to the journalists online as compared to print or broadcast.
Journalist Talat Hussain talked about how the idea of his online venture Sach TV was born out of sheer frustration in breaking stories on mainstream media. He cited language barriers, a lack of digital journalism and digital-savvy crowd in the country. He said digital journalism is still very limited in the country, where a few English-speaking audience are conversing within themselves.
Moderated by Kiran Nazish, the final session explored data journalism and computer-assisted reporting. An international data journalist, Huda Usman joined the session via Skype and gave a 15-minute talk sharing her experiences and observations. She underscored the importance of being proficient in software such as in Excel to deal with large amounts of data and number crunching. The seminar was organised by Kuch Khaas in collaboration with Open Society Foundations.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2013.