News Next 2019: Country needs a policy on conflict reporting, says Sajjad Lone

Former J&K Minister and Chairman of People's Conference Sajjad Lone spoke about the role of media in conflict zones at the conference

Sajjad Lone

At the 11th edition of the exchange4media News Broadcasting Awards 2018, former J&K Minister and Chairman of People's Conference Sajjad Lone spoke about the role of media in conflict zones.
 

Speaking about the sensitivity that conflict reporting involves, Lone said, “Our media today is in an evolving state and the role of media where there is conflict is all the more critical because a mere report from a conflict zone could mean a dead body. Whereas, when you report from places where there is no conflict, it could be different ideologies, different perspectives but not about dead bodies.”
 

“What does a journalist represent in a conflict zone? Does he represent reality or is he/she creating a perception? I have stayed in J&K both as a non-politician and a politician, and at many times we do not know whether we are fighting people on the streets or the media in the evening,” he added.
 

Lone also spoke about how the media might have erroneously crossed the thin line of reporting from   a conflict zone and become a party to the conflict. “When you report from a conflict zone there is a thin dividing line and if you cross it, you become a party to the conflict. I think in our country the media might have erroneously crossed that line and become a party to the conflict. There might be TRPs, but there is a lot of blood in those TRPs. If you look at media reporting and the conflict in J&K, somewhere in the name of national interest the media has actually allowed authorities to walk away with murder. The media has trespassed into a territory that does not belong to it.”
 

“Conflict reporting is not as easy as reporting the release of a movie. It is a different ballgame, it is a different science. I really think that the country needs a policy on conflict reporting because if I tell you that a news report at times has meant dead bodies in the evening, I would not be lying,” he further added. 
 

According to Lone, in the last 30 years in Kashmir, at least five to six per cent of dead bodies, which includes targeted killings, have resulted from news, false or true. 
 

“It is very important that a reporter in the conflict zone knows about the ethics of conflict reporting, otherwise in our country, in the state of J&K, I would say unambiguously that media has inadvertently trespassed into a territory where they have become part of the problem,” Lone concluded.

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