By Abdullah Chitral
Don’t be confused learned readers, neither I am writing about the soccer club nor cricket which is celebrated and liked too much in Chitral, and Pakistan and even South Asia. I am giving my views on a Club – Chitral Press Club.
Since media has become the fourth pillar of the state, it has taken up unprecedented role in the world and Chitral is not an exception. In the past a few mediapersons had been contributing where they reached, found the issue, covered the event or programme. But the unique phenomenon has emerged in Chitral for the last a few years. This new phenomenon is volunteerism and freelance/citizen journalism which has been contributing well round the clock in the media literature. The local websites particularly online papers should be credited for their contribution without being a lucrative and beneficial job. They are updating their sites and keeping their visitors abreast of all the events and current affairs and other important matters in the valley. Chitralis living in other parts of the country and around the world are benefiting from these online newspapers and get connected with their hometown.
In the context of Chitral, the unique volunteer journalism should be hailed not only for keeping the local papers updated but also for developing a culture of being connected with the rest of the world highlighting what is happening in Chitral paced with the rest of the world particularly equating a link and comparing it. These freelancers both for Urdu and English are competitive and credited with professional journalism. These people as far as their contribution in terms of reporting, writing and commenting is concerned are critiqued expressing outspoken, unbiased and unflavored. Though my posting is in Peshawar, regularly visiting Chitral’s online papers every day at the end of the day pay my gratitude to Chitrali journalists both professional and volunteers. By professionals I mean the journalists who are working with national and local newspapers and TV channels they are paid for their service and the volunteer are those who give their time and money for nothing but highlight the beautiful things, events, issues from Chitral for redressal and taking this job as their moral responsibility towards Chitral.
My contention here is not how both professional and volunteer journalists are working but I am watching and thinking over it again and again for the last few years and even closely this year when the election of the Chitral Press Club ended with oath ceremony in Islamabad. I used to contact some volunteers engaged with media about the election of the press club and their voting for the new incumbents. Some did not expressed their concern with this group saying we have no time to quibble with them on this issue. Some are of the opinion that if are professional they would do what professionalism demands because they even don’t like to accept the volunteers and newcomers as journalists at all. When I used to contact a senior person writing for national and local papers in Chitral, he said that the existing professionals don’t like others to give membership to their club. It is likely that the new cadre of journalists though not engaged with media and press club team going to challenge their election – in the garb of selection.
I would request this time the new incumbent president of Chitral Press Club to bring at least some change this year to bring the working journalists of Chitral: professionals and volunteers, under the umbrella of Chitral press club and take some measures to develop professionalism in the media sector in Chitral. Its credit will ultimately be given to the present incumbents in future. There should also be some mechanism about how the media funds be used so that it can be precedent for others to follow. Else I think the energetic youth at least in Chitral will not remain a silent spectator as they have the sharp pen in their hands.
The writer is an M.Phil student based in Peshawar.