Karachi Feb 1: Freelance journalists from across the country have decided to form the Pakistan Freelance Journalists Group (PFJG) to promote their rights, safety and professional development. The group will include freelance reporters, editors, editorial writers, photo journalists and camera persons working in print, broadcasting and new media.
The group felt that freelance journalists are the most ignored segment of the media industry. They are not treated at par with regular employees in terms of remuneration, employment conditions and privileges. Freelance journalists are also excluded from training and other opportunities necessary for their professional advancement.
Participants said although most of the journalists killed or injured are freelancers, media organizations do not provide safety training, insurance, guidance or advice. In many cases local and foreign media organizations abandon their local correspondents and fixers in case of any mishap. Journalists shared horrifying stories where they faced dire situations but the organizations they worked for did not support them.
Freelance media professionals felt isolated and undervalued as there was no organization or platform that works for their interests and well being. This was the justification for the formation of the group at the national consultative dialogue facilitated by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) with support of Open Society Institute (OSI). They said PFJG will give voice to the issues and concerns of freelance journalists and support their professional development.
The group decided to develop a directory to promote and highlight the work of reliable freelance media professionals and to create a website to provide advice and guidance on contract rights, insurance, training and fellowships. The group also decided to work on developing best practices for freelance journalists and organizations that use their services.