Challenges for Independent News Media in Pakistan

Watch the full event below:

For the past two years, Pakistan has been ranked by international media monitors as the most dangerous place on earth for journalists. Media workers have been kidnapped, tortured, and beaten to death for delving into the nation’s potent military apparatus and spy agencies. Challenges for Independent News Media in Pakistan examines the security situation for journalists and its effect on their reporting, as well as attempts by key officials in the military, intelligence agencies, and judiciary to silence critical reporting. Panelists discussed the media landscape in Pakistan after President Pervez Musharraf liberalized the broadcast laws in 2002 and set in motion a media market boom that transformed how news was reported. They examined the deteriorating security environment over the last decade and consider its impact on Pakistan’s information revolution.

The Center for International Media Assistance and

the Asia Program at the National Endowment for Democracy

present a panel discussion on

Challenges for Independent

News Media in Pakistan


Sherry Ricchiardi


Author, Challenges for Independent News Media in Pakistan

Awais Saleem


Dunya TV

Malik Siraj Akbar


Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

Robert Dietz


Committee to Protect Journalists

Moderated by:

Brian Joseph

National Endowment for Democracy

September 27, 2012

About the speakers:

Sherry Ricchiardi is a senior writer for American Journalism Review (AJR), specializing in international issues, and a professor at the Indiana University School of Journalism. Since 2001, she has reported for AJR on media coverage of the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, interviewing dozens of correspondents on the ground there. Ricchiardi has trained journalists in developing countries throughout the world, most recently working with Pakistani journalists in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi as part of the U.S. Department of State’s speaker program. She is on the advisory council of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University and is a member of the Dart Society, which works with journalists around the globe. In 2003 and 2009, she won the National Press Club’s top awards for press criticism. Ricchiardi was a Fulbright scholar at University of Zagreb and serves on the peer review committee for the Fulbright Specialist Program. She was an investigative reporter and Sunday magazine writer for the Des Moines Register for 14 years, and was the city editor for the Columbia Missourian.

Malik Siraj Akbar is an award-winning Pakistani journalist who has risked his life covering enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, assaults on journalists, and other human rights violations, particularly in his native Balochistan. He is the founding editor of the Baloch Hal, Pakistan’s first online local newspaper and served as the Balochistan bureau chief of the Daily Times, Pakistan’s leading English-language newspaper from 2006 to 2010.  A recognized regional expert, Akbar was a Hubert H. Humphrey fellow at Arizona State University from 2010 to 2011 and most recently completed a Reagan-Fascell Democracy fellowship at the National Endowment for Democracy. He is the author of The Redefined Dimensions of the Baloch Nationalist Movement, as well as numerous articles on press freedom, human rights, religious radicalism, and the war on terror in Pakistan.

Awais Saleem is a producer and correspondent for Dunya News in Washington, DC, which he joined in 2010. Previously, he worked as a reporter and newsroom manager for print and television for more than 10 years in Pakistan. There, he was a feature writer for The Nation, before spending five years as a staff correspondent with Pakistan’s largest circulation English daily, The News. Saleem attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008 as a Fulbright scholar and received a UNESCO fellowship for training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2004. He earned a master’s degrees in development journalism and mass communication from the University of the Punjab in Lahore.

Robert Dietz is the Asia program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, where he has worked since 2006. He has worked as a journalist in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the United States, with Visnews (now Reuters TV), NBC, and CNN. In 1988, Dietz was awarded a William Benton Fellowship for Broadcast Journalists at the University of Chicago, where he studied international relations. After serving for seven years as a senior editor at Asiaweek magazine, he returned to the United States to work for the World Health Organization, handling media relations and risk communication during the SARS and avian influenza outbreaks. His work there took him across Asia, where he continues to travel widely for CPJ, including reporting trips and missions to Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, and Sri Lanka, among other countries.

Brian Joseph is senior director for Asia and global programs at the National Endowment for Democracy. He served as NED’s director for South and Southeast Asia programs from 2005 to 2009. Joseph has written and spoken widely about human rights and democracy in Burma, Pakistan, and Thailand. He has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (formerly known as the Congressional Human Rights Caucus), provided high-level briefings for U.S. Department of State officials, and taught at the Foreign Service Institute. He served as a volunteer South Asia regional coordinator for Amnesty International USA and is a member of the International Human Rights Funders’ Group and the Burma Donors’ Forum. Joseph has a bachelor’s degree in history from Colorado College and a master’s degree in South Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.