New Delhi: On World
Press Freedom Day Tuesday, a report by the International
Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that in comparison to
previous years there was less threat to media person's life in
2010 in South Asian countries, though challenges of decent wages
and working conditions remain the same.
Moreover, the "sharp deterioration of an already bad situation in
Pakistan far outweighed the relative improvement in the other
seven countries" in the region, it added.
'Free Speech in Peril' as the report is titled, is the ninth
edition of such a study in South Asia and is supported by the
Unesco. It was released in a function here Tuesday.
"The prevalence of conflict and financial hardship has a direct
impact on the risks to journalists, whether they live and work in
areas of outright conflict, more remote districts or major
cities," the report said.
"The risk is even more prevalent in Pakistan, now the world's most
dangerous country for media workers, where the failure of the
country's largest media houses to pay employees fairly, if at all,
leads individuals to accept dangerous jobs for which they might at
least be paid," it added.
Afghanistan too continues to be challenged by intensifying
conditions of conflict. Bangladesh and Nepal are seeking a way out
of polarising political confrontations that have left deep scars,
the report said.
Bhutan and the Maldives continue to be challenged by the
difficulties of moving toward multi-party electoral democracies,
In India, the report said threat levels for media are high in
conflict prone areas like Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast and
Maoist insurgency hit areas in central India, where "local
governments and the security forces pressure the media, while
militants vie to control media contents in their favour".
In Nepal, the number of killings of media personnel has dropped
since the end of the decade long civil war in 2006 and nation wide
elections in 2008, but assaults and threats continue against
journalists. In Sri Lanka, journalists bravely seek to hold the
line against power holders who show little tolerance for dissent
and a pall of censorship hangs over the country, the report said.
While the freedom and working conditions of journalists was
reviewed in the report, the function saw a panel discussion on
press freedom in the era of social media, highlighting how it
provides a new platform for expression and allows citizen
journalists to report on otherwise under-covered stories and
overcoming repressive media environments.
"The ongoing protests and demonstrations in the Middle East
dramatically illustrate how social media is reshaping the way
citizens get information and how journalists report the news," N.
Bhaskara Rao, chairman of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS),