Working journalists are facing the worst era of journalism in Pakistan these days as layoffs continue in different media organizations across the country and there is no end to it.
Doing journalism in Pakistan was never an easy task as the fraternity has been facing multiple issues while doing job. They were attacked, killed, harassed and censorship was imposed on them but they continue to work for a better society.
However, this time the story is bit different. Now the journalists are being made jobless. Countless journalists have already been rendered jobless and those who are lucky and they are still working with some media organizations are also in state of fear. They fear they would also be rendered jobless this day or that day. The management of media groups continue to take barbaric steps and rendering the journalists jobless.
“I don’t know whether I would be part of the media group which is my employer by tomorrow or not. In fact nobody knows about his or her fate with these media organizations. Retrenchments are everywhere since the current regime took over,” said a journalist on the condition of anonymity.
The media industry in Pakistan was well flourishing till Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s regime. At least there was no massive scale layoffs during PML-N’s regime. However, things started happening from bad to the worst when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s came into power last year after general election in 2018.
The situation with regard to layoffs of the working journalists seems getting out of control with the passage of every day. Almost every day cases are being reported that so many reporters, sub-editors, photographers, cameramen etc were rendered jobless from this and that media organization. However, the government seems unmoved and unconcerned with all these happenings.
The Unions of Journalists (UJs) have been demonstrating against these layoffs throughout the country but situation remained the same. It seems there is no check and balance over these developments.
The media owners state scarcity of financial resources behind these layoffs as according to them government has drastically reduced rates of its ads for media groups. Moreover, releasing of funds to media groups by the government under the head of ads is also being quoted as another reason behind this financial murder of the working journalists.
However, UJs have very different story in this connection. They are of the view when these media owners were getting ads by the government in billions of rupees then how much of this massive profit was distributed amongst their workers. The answer is nil. The large number of working journalists have been getting from their jobs which were merely enough to make both ends meet.
When a few anchorpersons make claim on mainstream media about their salary which generally happens to be in million, the general public believe that every journalist is being paid enormously. The funny thing is, according to masses these anchorpersons are true and only journalists. They don’t know a reporter brings a news story, a subeditor edit it before its printing in the paper or telecasting it on a TV channel. They also don’t know the role of photographer or cameraman in a media organization. The reality is completely different in this connection. There are fewer journalists who have their own houses. Many of them can’t afford to send their children to good private schools to get education. Any health issue become chronic for them due to their very limited financial resources.
In a daring move, the President of National Press Club, Shakeel Qarar on Monday to mark protest against forceful layoffs of working journalists removed the mikes of the media organizations who have been rendering the members of the fraternity jobless. This action was taken by him during an event in Islamabad. On Sunday the National Press Club had announced to remove mikes of the media organizations who have been rendering journalists jobless. This move will help to highlight issues being faced by journalists besides highlighting barbaric attitude of the owners of the media groups in this connection.
There is absolutely no doubt about it that these media owners have been building one business empire after another after launching of their private TV channels. If these media entities were in loss, as they claim, then how they were able to build so many other businesses. This is the question which needs to be answered and the authorities concerned would be held responsible one day for these layoffs on massive scale. At the moment government has left the journalists at the mercy of the media owners.