May 03, 2019
Dawn on Friday said there is unprecedented pressure on editors to drop individual stories and specific quotes.
In an editorial titled Diminishing Freedom, the paper said the pressure was at times cloaked as ‘advice’ that could require giving a particular spin to a news report and avoid some topics entirely.
“The modus operandi employed to force compliance would make a despot smile: vicious smear campaigns, physical violence, abductions and legal harassment on spurious charges, including treason.”
The paper commented that resistance by media outlets is countered by strong-arm methods to disrupt their circulation and limit their viewership.
The editorial in connection with the World Press Freedom Day pointed out that when governments legislate to muzzle the media, when they discredit journalists and sow confusion in public by promoting false narratives, often through third parties on social media, it signals their intention to prevent scrutiny of their policies and actions. Journalists who threaten this impunity do so at the cost of their lives.
“International election observers in their report on last year’s polls noted that intimidatory tactics severely eroded the media's critical role as a platform for political debate and that the consequent self-censorship rendered election-related coverage “devoid of journalistic, non-partisan scrutiny.”
Dawn said that the PTI government should consider the possibility that one day it too may want an independent media to tell the story like it is.
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