Annam Lodhi was part of the research team
For some years now, media professionals and news industry insiders in Pakistan have spoken of a growing trend of self-censorship among local journalists. The self-censorship is argued to be a defence mechanism against threats, harassment, and acts of physical violence. However, a lack of tangible data about this phenomenon has often led to the issue being ignored in media policy discourse and efforts to ensure the safety of journalists. This study sets out to test the claims of self-censorship in the Pakistani news media through a survey of journalists working in the country.
The study provides a rare glimpse at the extent and contours of contemporary self-censorship among Pakistani journalists. The results are frightening. Almost 88% of the journalist respondents claimed they had committed self-censorship in their professional news reporting. Around 79% said they had also self-censored their personal expression online. Through these and many related findings, the study tries to over insight about the factors influencing self-censorship in local journalism.
The research also provides recommendations to tackle the issues that curb free expression in the Pakistani news media. In order to get local journalists to feel safe about their professional and personal expression, the study suggests actionable measures for news media organizations, journalist unions, civil society organizations, political parties, and the government.
If news self-censorship is not addressed in a timely manner, it will undoubtedly jeopardize the future of independent media in the country and damage the media’s role as facilitators of public discourse that is essential to an effective democracy.
Please read the full report here.