South Asian Free Media Association
South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA)–a mainstream media practitioners body of eight South Asian countries recognized by SAARC as its Associated Body, is active in the region since 2000 and has taken important initiatives for peace and media related issues. It has helped other initiatives to strengthen the processes of freedom and peace in the region:
SAWM: South Asian Women in Media (SAWM), only women journalists body with eight national chapters in the region to mainstream gender was formed in 2008-9, and is active in addressing women issues;
SAMC: South Asian Media Commission (SAMC)—a regional media watchdog in eight countries of the region to monitor attacks on the press and audit media, was formed in 2006 and it produces annul and periodical media reports (South Asia Media Monitor), besides taking up the issues of media freedom and media content;
SAPANA: South Asian Policy Analysis (SAPANA) network—a virtual think-tank dedicated to research on policy issues was created in 2005 and produced 13 books on South Asian Policy issues and is in the process of producing another 10 volumes on major issues by cross-border groups of researchers and experts;
SAJ: South Asian Journal (SAJ), a scholarly quarterly journal—has completed seven years of publication that reaches to over 2000 scholars, editors, policy makers, legislators, politicians and all those who matter in the region;
SAMN: South Asian Media Net (SAMN), largest news and views portal covering eight countries of the region, has to its credit eight years of daily news and views coverage of the region with over two million visitors;
SAMS: South Asian Media School (SAMS), a unique facility and institution helping train and reorient young journalists and fresh graduates from the region- so far seven courses for young journalists from eight countries of the region have been undertaken;
Production House: — a dedicated, effective and low cost initiative to develop and produce soft and hard media products for mass awareness and public service for wide dissemination to promote peace and curb terrorism. The infrastructure will also be utilized for the sustainability purposes.
All these initiatives and activities are dedicated to achieve the objectives of Media Development, Freedom and Peace in the South Asian region. Dedicated to twin-planks of conflict resolution, peace and regional cooperation, on the one hand, and media development, press freedom, joint regional media productions and cross-border media training and education in the South Asian region, on the other, SAFMA and its sister organizations, SAWM, SAMC, SAPANA, SAMS, have steadily moved forward on these fronts.
Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan
“The first international conference between parliamentarians, social organisations and editors of both the countries is taking place for further strengthening relations. Terrorism, which has created problems for the people in the region, can be defeated by cooperation and a joint war against terrorism and in this way peace could be maintained in both countries. I appreciate the initiative and efforts of SAFMA for providing such a valuable opportunity.”
(Pak-Afghan Parliamentarians, Experts and Editors Conference-I, Islamabad, Pakistan, March 31, April 1, 2009)
Free Media Foundation (FMF) – an implementing agency
The Free Media Foundation (FMF), a registered media body under the Societies Act XXI of 1860 and approved U/S 2(36) of Income Tax Ordnance, 2001, is the implementation agency for South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), South Asian Women in Media (SAWM), South Asia Media Commission (SAMC), South Asian Policy Analysis (SAPANA) and South Asian Media School (SAMS). It seeks to facilitate the transition from information as power for the few, to information as empowerment for the many. Supported by Free Media Foundation, SAFMA, SAMC, SAWM, SAPANA and SAMS are striving to bring peace to this most troubled region in the world and promote regional cooperation. These fraternal media bodies and networks are working to promote access to and free flow of information, free movement of media-persons and media products across frontiers, besides promoting professional cooperation, media development, media monitoring, undertaking research on policy issues, joint media productions and fighting for the cause of freedom of expression, tolerance, a free press and equality of gender. Exploiting the potential of mainstream media to influence policy makers and public opinion, SAFMA and its sister organizations are consistently promoting understanding about the major issues confronting the region, including peaceful resolution of conflicts, eradication of terrorism, non-proliferation, economic cooperation, poverty alleviation, democracy, human rights, equality of women and minorities and good governance. They have not only mobilized the mainstream media to promote its agenda, but have also engaged experts/academicians, parliamentarians, major stakeholders and all those who matter in policy formulation, in each country of South Asia, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in particular.
SAMS has conducted seven courses to date aiming at training journalists from the SAARC countries with an academic as well as technical approach. The detail of each course is summarized below:
SAMS-3: Eight-Week Media Training Course
A Course in Television and Radio Training was conducted during 19th May2008 – 12th July 2008 to train journalists from the SAARC countries with an academic as well as technical approach. Twenty-eight participants from all eight SAARC countries participated.
SAMS-4: Five-Week Media Training Course
The Training Course in Television Journalism was a new initiative for SAMS. The course commenced on 25th August and ran until 27th September 2008. Unlike previous courses, SAMS 4 was exclusively designed to train young journalists from Pakistan. There were a total of 11 trainees of varying ages and professional experience.
SAMS-5: Eight-Week Media Training Course
During 13th October 2008 – 6th December 2008 the course was conducted. There were 24 participants from 7 SAARC countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
SAMS-6: Five-Week Media Training Course
During 2nd February 2009 – 7th March 2009 the course was conducted in collaboration with South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) exclusively for female journalists from all over Pakistan and the South Asian countries. The major emphasis was on gender studies and the role of gender in media.
Twenty-three participants represented five SAARC countries including Pakistan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
SAMS-7: Eight-Week Media Training Course
During 13th April 2009 – 6th June 2009, as opposed to the previous courses, which have focused on radio and television journalism, this course specialized in Documentary Making.
Thirty participants from seven SAARC countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka participated.
SAMS-8: Three-Week Print Journalism Course
A 5-week training course was held from October 19th – November 14th 2010. For the first time, SAMS held a course focused purely on Print Journalism. Khaled Ahmad, the new Director of SAMS and renowned journalist, designed the course and conducted the majority of the core lectures. Investigative journalist Shahzada Irfan, Waqar Mustafa and Kiran Hassan also conducted sessions in this course. There were a total of 13 students all from Pakistan, including in-house trainees who were enrolled in the course for capacity building purposes.
SAMS-9: Eight-Week Television Journalism Course
An 8-week training course was held from December 6th 2010 – January 28th 2011. This course was focused on Television Journalism. There were a total of 20 students from Pakistan, all from different walks of life and varying experiences. Lectures were conducted by Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi, Arif Nizami, Dr. Mehdi Hasan among others. The technical sessions were conducted by Vasi Hasan of Pakistan and Sharmini Boyle of Sri Lanka. The students completed short news packages for their final projects which were then presented to Mr. Zulfiqar Khosa on the closing ceremony of the course which was held on January 28th 2011.
SAMS-10: Eight-Day Media Training Workshop
An 8-day radio training workshop was conducted in collaboration with the DW Akademie. Trainers from Germany trained 18 students from Pakistan on the basics of radio journalism.
The trainers were Marc Seidel and Florian Wiegand.
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