August 3, 2008

Official Afghan Paper Outlines View of Media’s Role

Text of report, "A vivid media message", in English by state- owned Afghan newspaper The Kabul Times on 30 July

The best means for social enlightening is the media. That is why every democratic society insists a lot on the accuracy of information prepared by the media and that it should be devoid of exaggeration and based on the reality on the ground. A real message by the media is a reflection of hope and goodwill towards others, while issues based on selfishness with a negative motive, damage social values and national prestige.

We have embarked on a new democratic era and have witnessed the dramatic thriving of the media over the last 6 years. Hundreds of private newspapers, television channels and radios started operating across the country. Of these, the television stations play a major role in reshaping public opinion by broadcasting foreign serials as well as political commentaries and news and organizing round tables.

Private TV channels, of which there are now 15 in Kabul alone, are most likely outshining other media outlets. Freedom of the press gives TV channels a free hand to televise what they want, say what they want and criticize whomever they dislike. But the free press is for informing, entertaining and enlightening the public within the framework of social norms, including cultural values and national requirements. All the private-run media try to gain credit by criticizing government organs and officials. In this way, the media have been used as a grousing tool rather than a source of information and improvement in society.

It is a common trend that the new followers of democracy do not know much about the real meaning of democracy. The people rush to say everything at once in a tough language that takes them away from understanding the reality on the ground. In Afghanistan, the same thing happens. The private press always has a negative way of criticizing everything. Under such a policy, some media become a tool to reflect foreign propaganda and divide people. They use sensitive issues to create racial, linguistic and cultural discrimination. Such moves put the media at the service of the enemy, which is totally wrong.

We want to live in a democratic society and follow freedom of the press. Such a system requires us to live under the banner of law and avoid transgressing boundaries.

The government, as a responsible body, has to guide the press in a smooth way and their income and sources of financing should be transparent. They should disseminate information to strengthen unity and ensure the well-being of society so that everyone can be accountable for his or her every action.

Originally published by The Kabul Times, Kabul, in English 30 Jul 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring South Asia. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.