Pakistan: Reporting on the Floods | Newsletter | DW | 14.10.2010
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Pakistan: Reporting on the Floods

The floods in Pakistan made headlines all over the world. Professor Shah Jehan from the University of Peshawar’s Journalism Department reviews how Pakistan’s own media reported on the floods.


What role did the Pakistani media play during the floods?

The media – especially the private cable channels – immediately began covering the catastrophe. The main problems, though, were with breaking news – they reported things that weren’t entirely accurate because they hadn’t confirmed the information before broadcasting it. The floods also showed that our journalists don’t have enough training, particularly when it comes to media ethics. They often don’t know what to broadcast and what not to. This is critical, especially during a catastrophe. In all, although the media started reporting on the floods the very first day, it wasn’t until the third day that they began to reflect the seriousness of the situation.

Besides reporting the latest news what were the main aspects they covered?

The media reported a lot about the Taliban apparently gaining ground because they were so quick to help. Personally, I don’t think this is the case. I don’t believe the Taliban, Al Qaeda, the Koran schools or Islamist militants have gained influence because of flood-related aid. Apart from this, some politicians were unhappy with the reporting because, among other things, the disaster management was clearly criticized.

There are currently many foreign non-governmental organizations in the country. How is this foreign aid seen?

Foreign aid has contributed overall to a positive image, especially when it comes to private initiatives and contributions from aid organizations. And colleagues from Deutsche Welle also helped – they donated two truck-loads of relief supplies.

Many journalists have personally been affected by the floods. Can you sense this in their reports?

At the university we’ve spoken to many journalists who’ve been affected. Most come from northwest Pakistan – from the Swat Valley or Nowshera. In some newspaper articles and television reports, and especially in local reports, you could really feel they’d been affected.

On the initiative of Deutsche Welle’s Urdu service, DW staff in Bonn and Berlin donated several thousand euros to aid the flood victims in Pakistan. The donations filled two trucks with urgently needed items including clothing, shoes and cooking utensils.

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