An Afghan newspaper calls for improving relations between the media and government bodies. It says the shortage of professional journalists is creating problems for the media and urges the media outlets to take into account the national interests while reporting. It also says the year 2007 was the bloodiest year for journalists. The following is the text of an editorial, in Dari: "Why violence against journalists", published by independent Afghan newspaper Rah-e Nejat on 3 January; subheadings inserted editorially:
The freedom of expression and the freedom of media in the country are one of the achievements which placed Afghanistan in the category of major countries of the world seeking democracy. This freedom, which has been mentioned in the Afghan Constitution, has created a suitable ground for the activities of the print and broadcast media outlets in the country. The media has been freely criticizing the negative activities of the government with every passing day.
Despite the practical freedom given to the media within the framework of the constitution and the national interests, the media and their activities are in a complicated situation which has created challenges and problems in the country. Perhaps, they are more harmful than being beneficial.
There is no main framework and structure in Afghanistan. Going to extremes can be seen in all the fields. The print and broadcast media outlets are not exceptional. However, everyone was trying to set up weeklies! and magazines in the past. At the current situation in addition to the rich and businessmen, most of the political personalities and parties are trying to set up radio and television channels in order to campaign for their own benefits and, in some cases, to the detriment of the government.
Year 2007 bloodiest year for journalists
This process will grow and a large number of visual and audio media outlets will obtain license for operation with every passing day. However, these steps can be considered as beneficial in the field of the freedom of expression for the time being, but it seems that this process will have negative consequences. It is because there are few professional and skilled personnel in the media outlets or those who are experienced and technicians are not employed.
Moreover, those who assumed the important and crucial duty of journalists are usually unaware of the knowledge and arts of journalism and resorted to this profession based on their interests. This situation has created various problems to the media at a time when there is no sufficient ground to promote and train journalists based on the accepted principles and make them expert in their profession. The increase in violence against journalists, which has been reported over ! the past few days, is one of the problems. As for security, 2007 was the bloodiest year for journalists.
The inefficient realization of the profession of journalism and the lack of sufficient knowledge of the duties of a journalist, the atmosphere of their activities and the general situation in the country created various problems to journalists. The creation of various problems should be assessed and measures should be taken in the field.
Moreover, the facts that an effective media law has not been approved and the limits of the activities of media outlets have not been explained have created more problems.
The reports released by the bodies defending the rights of journalists say that the government officials have mostly treated journalists violently. It should be said that the government departments have been also creating problems to the print and broadcast media outlets.
Call for cooperation between media, government bodies
Unfortunately, the government departments of the country are not sufficiently familiar with and aware of the activities of the media. They cannot appropriately realize the method of activities of media outlets, as well as the reactions to be shown to their programmes.
They consider the programmes which are not based on their interests and show their weak points excessively to be against the laws. They stand against them with harsh sentences and words. This comes at the time when the government departments can maintain sound relations with the media outlets and show their achievements to others. They should explain their achievements, as well as problems, in a good manner. Moreover, the failures should not overshadow the successes.
Hence the print and broadcast media outlets of the country should operate feeling responsibility and within the framework of the national interests, as they are the forth pi! llar of a government. They should not create further problems to the society. On the other hand, the government bodies should realize the activities of the media outlets appropriately and maintain close and friendly relations with them in the country so that through these relations, the problems facing society are revealed and effective solutions are found.
Source: Rah-e Nejat, Kabul in Dari 3 Jan 08 p 2