Saturday, September 29, 2007

'Go Ahead Musharraf'

Yesterday evening one of my colleagues said he was disappointed again, because the Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed six petitions challenging Musharraf's two offices. "Now any and every general can become a president too," he said.

Six out of nine member bench rejected the petitions declaring them "not maintainable."
Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan and Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan said the petitions were maintainable, while Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Muhammad Nawaz Abbasi, Jutice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar, Jutice Falak Sher, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Javed Buttar declared them non maintainable.

Though Gen Musharraf is not the only Gen-President, but the ray of hope this nation developed after reinstatement of the Chief Justice and the bold decisions taken by the Supreme Court is now dead. People of this country have been waiting for the strengthening of the last 60 years.

When parliament and the political parties became a tool in the hands of the establishment, the judiciary had developed the hope after a long struggle and sacrifice of more than 50 people on May 12 this year. Early this month, when state forcibly sent Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister of Pakistan, to Saudi Arabia despite of orders of the apex court, one editor of a newspaper said, "Your judiciary is dead."

Well, Pakistan's newspapers flashed the historical decision this way: Daily Times in its full page headline wrote: Supreme Court says 'Go ahead Musharraf'. In a box news item the daily reported that Presidential candidate Justice (r) Wajeehuddin Ahmed had filed an application with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) that President Musharraf could not contest the election under Article 41 (3).

I am not an expert of law, will wait to see whose interpretation of law is accurate, whether of a retired judge's or sitting judges'.

Headline of Business Recorder reads; SC dismisses petitions (six to three) against Musharraf contesting election in uniform. In an other news daily quoted the US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, Richard Boucher saying the decision would promote democracy in Pakistan.

May be only Boucher believes this!

Full page headline of The News reported; SC saves the day for Musharraf.

The daily in an other news item reported President Gen Pervez Musharraf emerged stronger with cent percent chances of recording victory for a second term in office as his nomination for re-election crossed all the 'artificially' erected hurdles.

Rahimullah Yusufzai asked in The News why was it so that Supreme Court judges belonging to Sindh and the NWFP often gave dissenting judgments in important constitutinonal petitions having political implications while those from the Punjab usually upheld the government's stance? He said out of six judges who rejected the petitions four were from Punjab, one from Balochistan and one, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, had 'domicile' of Sindh. Recently he served as chief election commissioner of Pakistan. The three judges who gave dissenting note belong to Sindh and the NWFP.

DAWN's heading reads; The day of the General. Musharraf to run for president in uniform. Petitioners, lawyers' leaders livid.

Headlines of other national as well as regional newspapers also highlighted the decision.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Guiding Principles for the Journalist

Code of ethics may vary from country to country and newsroom to newsroom. However, some guiding principles prepared by Mr Bob Steele, Director, Ethics Program, The Poynter Institute for Media Studies would serve as useful advice for journalists at all levels.
Here is the copy of those principles, he provided me during my training at the Poynter Institute summer 2006.

1-
SEEK TRUTH AND REPORT IT AS FULLY AS POSSIBLE

Inform yourself continuously so you in turn can inform, engage, and educate the public in a clear and compelling way on significant issues

Be honest, fair, and courageous in gathering, reporting, and interpreting accurate information

Give voice to the voiceless

Hold the powerful accountable


2- ACT INDEPENDENTLY

Guard vigorously the essential stewardship role a free press plays in an open society

Seek out and disseminate competing perspectives without being unduly influenced by those who would use their power or position counter to the public interest

Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise your integrity or damage your credibility

Recognize that good ethical decisions require individual responsibility enriched by collaborative efforts

3-
MINIMIZE HARM
Be compassionate for those affected by your actions

Treat sources, subjects, and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect, not merely as means to your journalistic ends

Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort, but balance those negatives by choosing alternatives that maximize your goal of truth telling

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

50 Places to Shop for Story Ideas

Reaching in the editorial meeting without any story idea may not be so disturbing until questions of the editor regarding new ideas make it so. Story ideas neither grow in the field nor fall from the trees but you can still shop for them! what if they are not a commodity for sale.
Editors can't always help you with the story ideas, so why don't you get yourself and shop for them. I did it last year when I was struggling for some story ideas for the Wall Street Journal, where I worked for a brief period as a Daniel Pearl Fellow, I got one email from a colleague mentioning those 50 places to shop for the story idea. Though I could not visit all of those yet going to few of them really worked.
"50 places to shop for story ideas" I chose the same title for my blog. Thanks to Gregg McLachlan, Associate Managing Editor of the Simcoe Reformer, Ontario, Canada, who compiled the list of top 50 places. List was originally published in The Write Way, newsletter of the Simcoe Reformer.

Credit of making such a highly impressive list public also goes to www.notrain-nogain.org that made it available online for the print journalists. I am reproducing the list after permission of Gregg McLachlan.
I bet you can't afford missing such a good resource.
So, why are you waiting for! Let's start hunting though;

1. The Internet: Check out your local Internet service providers’ websites. Most ISPs host free web space for members to have their own websites. Usually, you’ll find people with simple websites about their hobbies, family, groups, etc.
2. The grocery store: Scan those bulletin boards.
3. Veterinarians’ offices: The public loves animal
stories. And there’s no shortage here. I once spotted a photo of a badger in a vet’s office. I asked about it, knowing the animal is virtually extinct in Ontario , Canada . Turns out, the animal was found injured only kilometres away and was being rehabilitated.
4. Cable television station: Most run a community
events service. Check it out. (And don’t forget your own newspaper’s community events listings)
5. Health department website: It’s interesting what officials will sometimes post on their websites, yet not
send press releases to the media. For example, our health department will post notices about beach closings on its website, but will not issue press releases about closings.
6. Start Googling: Google names, Google town names,
Google organizations’ names. You’ll be surprised what you find.
7. Arena bulletin boards: Association news gets posted here.
8. Church bulletins: We have a staffer who routinely gets
tips from church bulletins.
9. Community signs: Be alert when
you’re driving and read community signs. What are people publicizing to other people?
10. Rezoning notices: You see these
posted on properties where there is a proposed zoning change. Read them. There’s information there about development happening in your community.
11. Classified ads: People sell items.
They look for items. And then there are the oddities such as a cemetery plot for sale. . . you never know what you’ll find.
12. Ads: Don’t confine your reading to
the classified ads. Check out the other ads in your paper. Businesses and organizations use ads to announce events.
13. Club notes: Many newspapers print
club notes from various organizations and clubs. It’s amazing what groups will bury in these hand-ins. Once, a local club buried an item about the coming visit of a Belgian prince. In another item, a Women’s Institute formed in 1918 announced that it was folding due to declining membership.
14. Your local ISP’s forums: Local Internet Service
Providers usually operate discussion forums on their websites. These forums are usually very locally based and feature chatter about all sorts of issues and newsworthy items.
15. Anniversary notices: Read ’em! It’s how you’ll find terrific
human interest stories such as Mae and Jack celebrating 75 years of marriage.
16. Graduation notices: These can be a treasure trove of
story ideas. Learn about the local high school grad who’s going to university in Australia, or the university grad who’s starting a new career in Hong Kong as an ambassador’s assistant, or the young woman who’s becoming a police officer.
17. Obituaries: There are nuggets buried (pardon the pun) in
obituary notices. Nuggets like the person who once taught in a one-room schoolhouse, or the soldier who landed on the beach on D-Day, or the fellow who was a prospector. All stories waiting to be told.
18. School newspapers: Students will publish all kinds of
breaking stories about their school in their newspapers. Find out what events are upcoming, what trips are planned, and about staff and student accomplishments.
19. Sports association websites: Find out how teams are
doing, what tournaments are scheduled, get association news.
20. Hydro poles: People aren’t supposed to staple notices to
hydro poles, but they do. Sure, some notices tout stuff like ‘Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days’, but others may advertise a giant neighbourhood yard sale or a rock concert by an up and coming young band.
21. Sports hand-ins: There are some human interest gems in
those writeups that parents and coaches slide through the mailslot late at night at your office: little Johnny who scored six goals in one hockey game, or the basketball game where Jenny netted 47 points.
22. Eavesdrop: Eavesdrop at the grocery store checkout.
Eavesdrop at the coffee shop. Eavesdrop at the arena or sports field. Learn to listen to what people are talking about.
23. School websites: Learn about staff news, alumni news,
policies, upcoming events and happenings.
24. Blogs: Search for bloggers online in your community.
What are they talking about?
25. Meeting minutes:
Government organizations (councils, committees, school boards, conservation authorities) usually post notes from their meetings. If you weren’t at the meetings, it’s a quick way to review what was discussed and stay on top of newsworthy decisions. Also, look at agendas before meetings.
26. Tourism websites: Find out what’s being promoted as
tourism destinations, and find out what’s being overlooked. Get a list of festivals. Find out who belongs to your local tourist association. Learn where the association is going to promote tourism.
27. Radio, TV: Most have a community events board. Just
because a citizen didn’t call you about an event, it doesn’t mean they didn’t call competing media. Find out what the competition has that you don’t.
28. Nature / environmental groups: Most communities have
these organizations. Find out about their projects, their issues, unusual animals sightings, field trips, etc.
29. Trends: Get up to date on the latest trends and find out
how they’re impacting your community. It might be the hottest new toy for kids. Or it might be something more sinister such as an illegal drug.
30. Cemeteries: Read inscriptions on tombstones. One
reporter here noticed a tombstone with the inscription that the man died in Buchenwald concentration camp. With a little digging (sorry for the pun), it turned out the man was a spy for the allies who was caught by the Nazis.
31. Your newspaper’s ad reps: These co-workers walk the
business beat on a daily basis. They hear gossip. Ask them what they’re hearing on the street.
32. The What Happens Next factor:
Look at stories that have appeared in your paper in the past two weeks. Read them again. And then ask yourself: What happened next? If it hasn’t already been followed up, find out what’s happened.
33. Crime statistics: Talk to police about
what trends are happening, what are the most common crimes, get stats on break-ins, car thefts, drunk driving charges, 911 calls, etc.
34. Weather, weather, weather: From
your local weather office, monthly stats are readily available on temperatures, snowfall, rainfall, etc. It’s no secret that readers love weather stories.
35. Other newspapers: Read their stories. Look for buried
leads. Look for angles that they missed. Look for advancers that tip you off to upcoming events that you were unaware of. Consider how you can give the story a different twist.
36. Use the ‘Is there anything else happening?’ question:
When you’re talking with people, or interviewing them, at the end of your conversation, throw in the ‘is there anything else happening that might be newsworthy?’ It’s a simple interview-ending technique that can lead somewhere else.
37. Demographics: Research statistics compiled by sources
such as Statistics Canada. You’ll find community populations, age breakdowns, income, etc. How does your community compare with national averages?
38. The Barber / hairdresser: Fifteen minutes chatting while
in the chair can produce several leads. Don’t laugh. If it’s happening in the community, a barber or hairdresser has likely heard about from someone sitting in his/her chair.
39. Community centre: All kinds of organizations post information
at these places. All kinds of activities take place here.
40. Year in Review: Most newspapers publish a Year in
Review every January. Print it off and refer to it throughout the upcoming year. Many stories can be updated.
41. Police briefs: In press releases, police give the media a
few paragraphs on crimes that can often be expanded into stories. Also, be alert for multiple briefs over several weeks that show crime patterns.
42. Read magazine covers at the grocery store checkout:
No, we’re not talking about the headlines that scream Aliens Cry Foul Over TV Show Mork & Mindy. We’re talking about the magazine covers that try to lure readers with theme statements such as Bicycle Helmets: Should they be mandatory for adults too? Or Skin Cancer: Are you at risk? These theme statements can help you generate localized stories on topical issues.
43. Employment listings: Who’s hiring in your community?
Tell your readers about the factory that’s seeking 10 workers due to an extra shift being added. Sometimes a story about the flood of applications for a single job can be a telling story about the employment prospects in your community. And don’t forget about government employment listings. Taxpayers always like to know how their money is being spent to hire staff at municipal offices.
44. Welfare agencies: Who’s helping the poor in your community?
Government agencies that distribute welfare payments will keep statistics on how many people are receiving aid. Food banks also keep statistics on how many people are visiting for food. These types of statistics can be reported on a regular basis throughout the year.
45. Member of government websites: Visit the websites of
your local member (MP or MPP) of government. Obviously, there will be lots of news releases touting the ‘great work’ they do, but read between the lines and you’ll have lots of conflict-based story ideas: Politicians fighting with groups, rival politicians, policies, legislation, etc.
46. Variety stores: Frequently on a store counter, you’ll find
donation jars for various causes or benefits. Occasionally, there are even petitions hoping to attract the signatures of customers.
47. Notices on storefront windows: these windows can feature
a mish-mash of notices, everything from community events to legal notices about a business being shut down.
48. Community newsletters: For example, Ontario Power
Generation publishes a newsletter for employees and the community. Sure, it’s a public relations vehicle, but there are story tips. Get on the mailing list of companies which send out such newsletters.
49. Go for a walk: Go for a walk through your downtown and
ask people and retailers what folks are talking about in town? What’s happening that’s newsworthy? What are some issues? What’s the best thing that’s happening? Who would make a good human interest story?
50. Letters to the editor: They offer additional viewpoints on
subjects, possibly other angles for stories. The writers are also commonly Average Joe Citizens bringing to light an injustice, a complaint or opposition/approval of an impending decision by government.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blog Guide for Citizen Journalism


"It takes only Rs10 (around 0.2 cents) for a person to become a journalist," one of my former colleague said while commenting over work of those journalists who did not consider journalism knowledge more important, "just buy a small notebook and a pencil, and start taking notes."
But, the Internet channel made it easier.
Now, you even don't need a piece of paper or a pencil to become a journalist! besides, you don't need any newspaper to work with!
What you need is to share the information with the people and be called a citizen journalist.
You can do it easily in two ways. Go to street or a park and tell the people what information you have. If it poses you dangers then the other and the best option is to start a blog and be called a citizen journalist.
Here, though you don't need to become a member of any media group, you'll have to win trust of your readers by providing them with authentic information.
Ten point guide provided by the International Center for Journalists on citizen journalism would guide you in detail about becoming a publication-less journalist! Tips related to safety measures and collection of information are useful not only for citizen journalists but also for the full time journalists associated with print as well as online media. You can read tips here as well.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Daniel Pearl World Music Days


Daniel Pearl World Music Days are being celebrated from 1st to 15 October throughout the world. People who love peace, pursue truth and are keen to give voice to the voiceless would form a community to celebrate the days in his memory.
Daniel Pearl, known as Danny among family and friends, was a Wall Street Journal reporter and was killed in Pakistan in 2002 while pursuing truth for his story.
At the time, Danny was kidnapped I was working for a regional daily newspaper in Karachi. There was no trace of Danny for a few days, then heard about his death. He was kidnapped and killed by the terrorists who never wanted him to unearth the truth. The news of his death shocked the peace loving journalists in Karachi.
I'm inspired of his work, after reading his stories, work on him and meeting his friends as well as colleagues at The Wall Street Journal in Washington DC Bureau, I found that he was a man, a friend, a truth seeker, a peace lover and a citizen of the global world.
Though what is done can not be undone. Our celebrations could not bring him back, but by celebrating the Daniel Pearl World Music Days we can strive for the peace, which was one of his missions. Let's participate in this global network of concerts and register your performance at Daniel Pearl World Music Days (www.danielpearlmusicdays.org)

Friday, September 14, 2007

I got luck in Nepal


Friends, Welcome to my blog. I'm starting my blog with a post from Nepal.

It is a coincidence, my first foreign visit was Nepal (2005) and got the blog idea from this valley too.


Last month, I was again in Nepal at the end of the month. I like this country, as it got not only peaceful people (with exception to Maoists), and beautiful valleys. I got my best friend in Nepal back in 2005.

Well, I was telling you my unusual experience.
On early morning of Saturday 1st Sept, I planned to visit Nagarkot, uphills near Kathmandu (a ride of around half an hour) alongwith one of my colleagues. When reached at the peak of the hills, I wanted to take some pix from several angles and went inside the bushes. Rain made me go back to hill and find the way downwards. Our Cab was waiting for us.

Rain started heavy pours and we had to say ‘bye’ to Nagarkot. then we went to Bakhtapur (a town in our way back to Kathmandu), where we went inside a jewelry shop. Suddenly, my attention went to my left foot, which I thought was wet.

Something red was visible between my fingers and the chapel I was wearing. I thought I had a crushed rose, but where did it come from.

I realized it was not rose but blood coming out from my fingers. My colleague was afraid. “how did u injure it?” she asked, but I had no idea. She thought I was beaten by any snake or so when I went alone inside heavy bushes at Nagarkot. What it could be? We had no idea, I was feeling no pain, but was badly bleeding.

Requested shopkeeper to provide some cotton, he managed it anyway. we asked the shopkeeper, who looked a wise person, whether there were poisonous insects in the area. While washing my fingers, I found a worm sucking my blood. The shopkeeper told that it was rather a good sign and ‘you would meet a luck today,’ he said. He said that when such worm bites the person finds luck, Nepalese believed.

I made some new friends at the day. I call my friends 'my luck'. Isn't it?