Karachi, Pakistan, Dec. 21, 2004 - Broadcasters from across Pakistan participated in a Voice of America/Radio Aap ki Dunyaa (VOA) workshop that highlighted the role of the free press and featured a discussion with Sharmeen Obaid, a journalist who has reported religious fundamentalism in the country.
"The interaction between the group, the press conference and the discussions were among the best I've seen," said Owais Aslam Ali, secretary-general of the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), which helped VOA organize the event. PPF is an independent media research, documentation and training center that promotes press freedom.
Arnold Zeitlin, a former Associated Press bureau chief in Pakistan, worked with VOA staff to conduct the sessions which included training in fair and balanced reporting, how to conduct an interview, use of research and the Internet and the role of the free press. The sessions were held Dec. 15-18, 2004.
Obaid, a native Pakistani who was educated in the United States, held a question-and-answer session with journalists on her new documentary, Reinventing the Taliban, which is about the rise of religious fundamentalism in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.
Workshop participants also attended a press conference by Senator Raza Rabbani, deputy secretary general of the opposition Pakistan Peoples' Party Parliamentarians. Rabbani gave a detailed briefing on his party's position on current issues, including Pakistan's role as a frontline state in the war on terror.
Javed Jabbar, a former minister of information and broadcasting in Pakistan, was the speaker at the concluding session. He called for creating community-based radio stations across the country.
Last year, VOA launched a new Urdu-language service, Radio Aap ki Dunyaa, which transmits 12 hours a day of news and information to millions of Pakistanis and other Urdu speakers. The station is distributed on medium-wave at 972 kHz. It is also broadcast three hours a day on shortwave.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.
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