Yesterday, the transparency international announced the recipient of the 2020 International Anti-Corruption Award. Luckily, the name of an Afghan journalist, and newspaper (Zaki Daryabi and Etlaatroz) came out as winner of this valued award. This newspaper, which was established in 2011, has been bravely covered various challenging issues such as administrative corruptions, security crises, governance, economic, social, cultural, women issues and health problems with facing many challenges and with winning the heart of many citizens as one of independent newspaper amongst hundreds of print media in Afghanistan. Therefore, we congratulate this achievement believing that this newspaper deserves such a position and could be considered as valued attainment and pride for independent media in the country. we hope all media groups, despite numerous challenges, stay independent and committed in fighting against corruptions and other abnormalities with reflecting all voices in the framework of national interests in the country.
Given the abovementioned achievement, the first important question which ordinarily comes in our mind why Etlaaltroz was chosen out of hundreds of media in Afghanistan? In response to this question, it seems that independence, fighting against corruption and professionalism seems to be the most important criteria for this selection. This was also quoted from the transparency International that the award was given to Zaki Daryabi and Etlaaltroz because of their independency and tireless efforts against corruption despite critical situation for independent journalists and freedom of expression in Afghanistan. Reportedly, the organization also added that Etilaatroz despite fiscal challenges opened a new window of hope and sends a clear message of courage, sacrifice and determination to investigate, expose and challenge corruption.
The next point which need to be raised here is the challenges of independent journalists and media in the country. Undoubtedly, the freedom of media and diversity of media is one of most important achievement of post Taliban government, but the independent media are faced with numerous challenges because of being supportless in facing violence, humiliation, fiscal problems and so on. However, most of violence against media workers has been imposed by terrorists groups including Taliban. If we look back in last two decades, several times the journalists and media workers have been directly targeted by the terrorist groups. the violence also imposed by the powerful and corrupt people in government bodies because of interest conflicts. When they feel fear of disclosure they may do anything against journalists to silence their voices. they also create barriers against giving necessary information to the media. However, the lack of professionalism, impartial investigation and overall ethics of journalism also play important role in success of journalism. Therefore, Etalaatroz could be a good example of successful independent media with showing great excellence despite multiple challenges in the country.
the independent journalists and media are also faced is fiscal challenges. If we look back in last two decades, hundreds of media, especially the independent ones were closed down due to the same reason. Unfortunately, the independent media and journalists are faced with many problems such as job insecurity, lack of insurance and lack of economic supporters and so on. Neither the government and nor the people fiscally support the independent journalists who are committed to fight against corruptions, mafia groups, social abnormalities and so forth. in fact, media workers have similar responsibility with those soldiers who fight against enemies in the battlefield but without any assured advantages. the media and journalists are the real flag holder of democracy but when they are not fiscally challenges or not supported they would be replaced by those who are supported by outsiders. As pointed out, in last two decades hundreds of independent media have been collapsed across the country because of economic issue. Despite that they had to fight back against various fiscal issues such as taxes, especially income taxes and monetary fines. In such a condition, this will be too hard to expect progress of independent media in the country.
The last but least important challenge is weaknesses of rule of law. Unfortunately, neither the government agencies are regulated in accordance with the principle of media freedom law and nor all the media have entirely proved their impartiality and professionalism in pursuit of national issues. Therefore, both government and media community should feel commitment against their vital responsibilities. The government should review its commitment to support independent media and freedom of expression noting that the right to freedom of speech as one of the basic human rights enshrined in international human rights documents and also national law. the journalist community should also realize their responsibilities in regard to professionalism and impartiality on the basis of national interests and convergence culture. Otherwise, media can play destructive role in promotion of hatred literacy, time killing movies and violence through T.V channels.
On the whole, media management is vitally important for nation building, peace and prosperity of a nation. In fact, it is not possible to talk about democracy and public participation without strong media community based on a well-informed society. A well-informed society is considered the most important supporters of independent national media and journalists. on the other hand, the dependent media and false media information can deviate public opinion, social attitudes, families and future generation. Therefore, we must not forget public awareness about role of independent media and knowing that today’s world is ruled by media monopolies or media empires. Meanwhile, the government and everyone should be reminded that freedom of independent media is freedom of thoughts and greatly imperative to organize the media on the basis of national interests and convergence culture.