Promoting Democracy by Strengthening the Media - Deutsche Welle
That quantity does not necessarily mean quality, in the media landscape any more than in other fields, is documented by numerous stations whose employees more or less openly advertise political groupings of various shades under the guise of press free- Veronika Picmanova dom and freedom of opinion. Some of them are influenced or controlled by warlords and are deliberately used to agitate against the state order, the government and the international community. The Afghan journalist, Rahimullah Samander, put it as follows: “I am very worried about journalism in Afghanistan. A large part of the press and most TV and radio broadcasters are now biased. There is a loss of objectivity in reporting and we journalists are increasingly losing our credibility.” Self-censorship and the lack of professionalism of many Afghan journalists is also contributing to their loss of standing in Afghan society. Hardly any working journalist formally learned the trade. And many are unable to distinguish between different aspects of journalism such as reporting or comment. It is therefore understandable that the Afghan media have a long way to go before they can take up their place as the “fourth estate” in a democratic society.
ATTACKS AGAINST JOURNALISTS ON THE INCREASE Where critical journalists risk their lives The number of attacks against domestic and international journalists in Afghanistan has been rising steadily for several years, accord- ing to the international “Committee to Protect Journalists” in Afghanistan. Especially in the south of the country, critical journalists are threatened, beaten up, locked up and murdered on false charges. In June 2007, unknown as- sailants shot dead two female journalists in the space of just one week. Zakia Zaki (35) was the founder of “Radio Peace”, a station in the northern province of Parwan run by women only. The 22-year-old Shokiba Shanga worked as a TV presenter and reporter for the private broadcaster Shamshad Television. Although most of the victims of violence are critical, native journalists, international report- ers have also repeatedly come under attack. In October 2006, unknown assailants shot dead the two German journalists, Karin Fischer (30) and Christian Struwe (38). Both had worked for many years as freelancers for Deutsche Welle. As a reporter for DW-RADIO, Karen Fischer had filed numerous bulletins from Afghani- stan, while Christian Struwe had worked on DW-AKADEMIE’s project to reconstruct RTA. In most cases, the culprits remain unidentified. But it is no secret that supporters of the Islamist Taliban are behind most of the attacks. Militant zealots are assailing the media and freedom of opinion by any means available. But despite this resurgent climate of violence, most journalists in Afghanistan are determined not to give up. ELLEN SCHUSTER The Deutsche Welle journalists, Karen Fischer and Christian Struwe The young TV reporter, Masood Qiam, makes his point clear: “I grew up here – under the Communists, the Mudjaheddin and the Taliban. Our life has always been very dangerous. That’s why death threats cannot deter us from doing our work. It would be much more dangerous for journalists if one day parliament were to restrict press freedoms. Because then we would no longer be able to do our work effectively and some day the government would ignore our reporting.” 13