Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Media: ups and downs in Afghanistan


Media: ups and downs in Afghanistan

Journalism, as it is one of the top ten high-risk jobs in the world, is a tougher andriskier task in Afghanistan. Afghan journalists work in the worst security conditions for raising awareness and practices the freedom of expression in newly democratic system. In the new era and the era of democracy, after the fall of the Taliban regime, the growth of journalism and media growth is one of the most important achievements of the Afghan government and the democratic system. Journalists freedom and media activities are of very great importance for building a conscious, civic, and democratic society. Hundreds of media company and thousands of journalists are working in this field in Afghanistan. Afghan journalists are pursuing the career with facing different types of problem such aslack ofsecurity, freedom of the press and over all lawlessness.
According to the Reporters Without Borders, Afghanistan is one of the deadliest place for journalists in the world. they ranked Afghanistan 118th out of 180 countries regarding media freedom. Meanwhile, Nai, a local media supporting company, repeatedlyaccused government for trying to influence the media and failure for protection workers as theyare frequently threatened in one way or other way which resulted in closure of150 media company in recent years. Legally, according to NAI, 85% of journalist contracts are not concluded in accordance with the labor law.  This shows that Afghan journalists are the real victims offighting in thecourse ofmedia freedom both inside and outside of media organization.
However, Afghan journalists are considered as the leaders of public opinion and freedom of speech, but their ability and professionalism is another issue which strongly affects their work quality. On the other hand, thereare very fewer independent mediato implement their impartial programs based on the national needs and creative minds. In addition,due to lack of a professional bed for journalism, the journalism students receive some basic training but they do not acquire specialized expertise to fulfil the needs of the time; so, they cannot respond the need properly andshouldbe supportedto improve their work quality.
Out of numerous challenges in journalist community what has become more serious and common problem for all reporters, is job security and health insurance. There are no guarantees in any media in Afghanistan that a reporter can be kept in his job. The media company can cancel the contract whenever they wish without considering the content of labor code. Thus, no insurance is taken into considerationfor their risky job when they are recruited; they usually go to the most insecure area and among terrorist groups even out of government’s control rule to make available fresh news and information.
Fighting for freedom of expression, reporters have given numerous victims with crossing many challenges. In the latest statistics released by the Journalists’ Security Committee in Kabul, 22% violence against journalists increased in the first six months of 2018 compared to previous periods. This increase in statistics also left 11 deaths. The fact is that all national and international efforts to protect freedom of expression and the media, have not been enough effective. However, there have seen some improvements in quantity, not quality.
Most mediaface dependent policy issue due to fiscal problem. Most of them are sponsored but expected to act like a loudspeaker for the benefit of donors. The lack of freedom and lack of independency in policy making have causes a lot censorship in journalism job preventing from expression of realities and impartialities. Anyway, reporters undertake the riskiest duty in the course of raising awareness and fighting for media freedom with the least amount of salaries.  So, they need to be supported both by people and government as the freedom of media is freedom thoughts.
Many institutions have been established to support journalists and the media, but no fundamental change occurred in the level of violence against journalists and media freedom.Although new research suggests that Afghanistan has a better voice than its neighbors in the world opinion poll, but still there are deaths, threats, humiliations, censorship and work challenges among media sectors. These may show that there has paid some superficial attention while there is need for aprofound politicization on the basis of national needs and democratic values.
Given the capacity these institutions possess, it was possible that some of these institutions would work better and more efficiently. For instance, the joint government and media committee under supervision of the second deputy president is a good example of effectiveness for support of journalist community. This institution started by the Independent Media, Journalists and Government Representatives during the National Unity Government to co-ordinate the media with the government, to handle journalists’ judicial cases, and to address the challenges of journalism in Afghanistan. In short time, this institution could succeed toreview so many cases.
The committee set up a joint regular meeting forlegal cases and finding solutions to issues related to the growth of journalism and freedom of expression in a country. In this series of discourses, dozens of cases of violence against journalists were successfully investigated, as it is said. As the organization progresses, all cases of violence against journalists will be finalized by next year. In addition, a representative was introduced to the United Nation in order to support the journalists and as the international institutions called, the committee is promising for the future of journalism in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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