Author: Kaleem Butt, June 6 2017 - It is very true that Pakistan is considered to be one of the most dangerous places for journalism. Journalists are killed, tortured, injured, and blackmailed by state as well as non-state actors, at an average of 5 journalists every year. The Pakistani journalists not only face threats of life and job, but the very press clubs that are considered a second home for journalists have also added fuel to the fire.
The role of press clubs in most other countries is to entertain the journalists – they are simply defined as a place where journalists come and relax and enjoy themselves. However, press clubs in Pakistan have a totally different role; they play a wider, hegemonic role in the news industry. Countries like Japan also have this hegemony of press clubs and locally in Japan they are called "Kisha Clubs."
Pakistani journalists continuously live under the hegemony of press clubs, and the most unfortunate thing about this is that they are unable to raise any voice against this hegemony on any platform. Among all their other difficulties, the journalists of Pakistan have also to face hegemony of the press clubs to carry on their journalistic careers.
The hegemony of Press Clubs in Pakistan:
These press clubs play a lot more roles related to journalists and news industry than simply entertainment. In fact, no one can topple them as they are powerful bodies. Here is the list of duties that a press club performs in Pakistan:
(a) Recruitment of new journalists: Hardly any news channel or paper could recruit any correspondent for reporting without the prior permission of the press club of that particular bureau. On some occasions, the press club recommends the journalist to be recruited; and, if that person is not hired, no other journalist joins that channel or paper from that particular station.
(b) Controlling News: The press clubs in Pakistan are not only the news gathering spots but they also control news. The press clubs, keeping in view their vested interests, decide what news item is worthy to be published and what should not be published. Any journalist who breaks this code of conduct is immediately banned from entering the press club, while a social boycott is announced for certain period of time against the journalist who has not followed the instructions. In 2016, a reporter of a private news channel was boycotted by Hyderabad Press Club as he went on with the news item that the press club had asked him not to publicize.
(c) Taking financial benefits in the name of journalists: The press clubs have deep contacts with politicians and business tycoons, and, often, they take financial benefits from these politicians and business tycoons in the name of the welfare of journalists, though very little is actually spent for welfare of journalists.
Press clubs of Pakistan include:
The Karachi Press Club (KPC) is the oldest press club of the country established in 1958. It is now situated at Saddar, Karachi.
The Islamabad National Press Club (INPC) is situated at Rawalpindi, and approximately 2500 journalists are its members.
The Lahore Press Club (LPC) is the second largest press club of the country after KPC, having a membership of 923 journalists.
Hyderabad Press Club (HPC) is considered one of the most important press clubs as it covers entire Sindh, leaving out Karachi, despite the fact that there are district press clubs in various parts of Sindh province. HPC is 46 years old and has more than seven hundred members.
In addition, there are other press clubs like Quetta Press Club, Peshawar Press Club, Multan Press Club, Sukkur Press Club and many others; these press clubs cover news stories of the respective districts.
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