In America, Europe and other developed countries, Citizen Journalism is a science of which common citizen especially people belonging to journalism are not just familiar but also motivated and active for its development. But this term is quite new in Pakistan. Though it’s a new science for people of Pakistan and especially students of Journalism with respect to knowledge but practically its not only prevailed and vogue in our print and electronic media but probably this science and also the field would have been properly started with the commencement of newspapers.
This science is not only the first and direct source for access to news but also very effective and reliable on grass root level. Unfortunately the people doing citizen journalism here are not only unaware of their importance and effectiveness of their work but also the newspaper owners using them any moment have not admitted their importance.
It is useless to complaint against newspaper owners in this matter as they are the ones who are not ready to grant award to their regular employee and important concessions to their employees on contract, who are using their writers and representatives all over the country without any contract for sixty years back and also who are not willing to spend on their telephone, fax, telegram and transport services. So how come they would give facilities to those poor voluntary workers. But the more painful thing is that also the newspaper and T.V channels staff doesn’t give that importance and respect to citizen journalists which they truly deserve. Both owners and staff of newspapers and T.V channels use these volunteers for their own purposes only and then ignore them like used tissue papers.
All we know that citizen journalists are neither regular journalists and nor they achieve basic education of journalism and proper experience in that field. Also they are neither pay role of newspapers and channels nor attached to them in a proper way. Even they themselves don’t have an idea of what they are doing is either journalism or not. Usually such people are political or social workers or people having literary sense. They themselves inform newspapers about the incidents of their areas; make telephone calls, send fax on their own expense, reach the newspaper office using their own ride and inform them about the important situations and incidents causing tension for themselves and their habitation though but at the same time such information are also the news for newspapers and newspapers are incomplete without these news. Such people inform police and emergency services immediately in case of any accident and then also inform newspapers about it. They are the people informing newspapers about many incidents of oppression and ill-treatment. Incident of desecration of women in Nawabpur and Mukhtara mayi case in Miruwali came on scene because of these silent volunteers and succeed in getting world wide popularity. The video movie of murder of leader of Pakistan People’s Party Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was also recorded by some citizen journalist on his mobile phone. Remember that media of Pakistan and from all over the world were there on that occasion but they couldn’t make pictures or video of attack on Benazir and her murder.
According to my point of view there are very bright chances of citizen journalism not only in Pakistan but in the whole world. Citizen journalists providing news and sometimes exclusive stories of great importance to newspaper and channels without any journalistic concern and financial benefits are practically meant as a backbone for media. But unfortunately the behavior of newspaper owners and working journalists with them is quite hurting and even insulting. These individuals are suspected. Their benefits are sought within their provided news but they are fully used in the hour of need and then again they are mistreated after that. Most of the citizen journalists stop doing work due to this irresponsible and ridiculous behavior which can lead newspapers and channels themselves to extreme loss because the same individuals write letter to editor about their areas or departments and also suggest the possible solutions of different problems.
The hour of need is that:
- Newspapers and channels must include this serviceable but silent group of individuals spreading all over the country and having news sense to their network.
- The professional training of volunteer journalists should be arranged.
- The uneducated among them should be educated.
- The respect and honour must be given them in the offices of newspapers and T.V channels.
- Newspapers and channels must appoint their proper income or must pay according to per picture/news.
- Government and institutions regarding journalism must arrange training workshops for them on regional basis.
- The press club of Pakistan Federal Union of journalists and its areas must give them their membership.
- Institutes like All Pakistan Newspapers Society, APNS and Press Institute of Pakistan must announce the award for few citizen journalists performing very well every year.
If these and other more arrangements like them are made and if it is decided to take steps for further development with open heart then there is no reason to get a large number of such individuals who would be proved a valuable asset in future.