Meet SPJ Region 3’s international correspondent for SUS

Editor’s Note: Please allow me to introduce SPJ international member Muhammad Ittefaq to SPJ Region 3 members and all journalists in the Region 3 coverage area including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Muhammad will be writing as an international correspondent for SizingUpTheSouth.com on his experiences as a journalists working in Europe and the Middle East. Watch for his future SUS articles. – Sharon Dunten, editor-in-chief, SizingUpTheSouth.com

 

Written by Muhammad Ittefaq, SPJ international member 

Muhammad Ittefaq

Muhammad Ittefaq

Muhammad Ittefaq is a graduate fellow at the Institute of Media and Communication Services in Technical University, Ilenau, Germany. He has studied Political Science and Indo-Pak History at the under graduate level from the University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. (It is the largest and oldest university’s in Pakistan). Ittefaq’s graduate studies included Communications Studies (Major Electronic Media) from the Institute of Communications Studies, University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

During the graduation studies, Ittefaq was selected for an August 2014 summer school funded by German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) held under the “Chair, Muslim Culture and Religious History” Faculty of Humanities, University of Erfurt, Germany. After a tough competition and two interviews, he was chosen out of hundreds of students.

Institute of Media and Communication Services in Technical University Ilenau, Germany

Institute of Media and Communications Services in Technical University in Ilenau, Germany, is where Muhammad Ittefaq is a graduate fellow.  – University photo

This was his first international academic trip and according to Ittefaq, it had a “great impact on his personality.” After spending two more weeks in the program and visiting other European countries including Germany, France and Spain, Ittefaq made up his mind to come back (Germany) for higher education.

During his summer school in Germany, he learned about “Cyber Culture, Religion, Politics and New Media, Internet and Human Rights, Twiplomacy, Islam and the Media, and Googlisation of Everything.” Ittefaq also did work in Punjab University (PU) at 104.6 FM campus radio and served as a presenter on special occasions.

“Journalism is going to become hard and tough job in this modern era, especially since 2000. Fake news, fact-checking and investigative reporting is hard due to globalization of journalism. Journalism is not just to report the facts, but also about honesty, objectivity, professionalism with respect ethics and truth,” said Ittefaq.

When returning to Pakistan, Ittefaq and his colleagues developed an idea to launch a monthly newspaper particularly focused on education. The idea came to the minds of the colleagues because most media cover political and general issues and do not always cover human development-related topics including education, health, environment, policy and other social issues. The newspaper is called “The Educationist.” 

Educationist capture

The Educationist  http://educationist.com.pk

Working day and night, Ittefaq and his colleagues launched the newspaper. Ittefaq says the newspaper has remained successful so far and is still published online and in print monthly. It is distributed to close to 15,000 readers including e-paper in Pakistan.

The founding members of the newspaper include Azhar Iqbal (currently graduate fellow at Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia), Shabbir Sarwar (currently working as Assistant Professor at University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan) and Ammar Sheikh (currently working with Express Tribune Newspaper, Lahore, Pakistan).

In addition, Ittefaq is one of the founding members of Asian Journalism Network, a member of Pakistan Federal Union of Columnist, a member of International Journalists Network, a member Youth General Assembly and a member Global Youth Academy For Advancement of Forensics. 

ABB TAKK tvDuring his academic career he did two internships. The first one was at a leading news channel ABB TAKK News at the monitoring desk as well as working in the field to help a senior reporter. The second internship was at the public relations office at the University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

Ram Parakash mug

Dr. Ram Parakash Bambah

Dr. Ajaib Singh Brar

Dr. Ajaib Singh Brar

Ittefaq has visited India twice on official assignments during his job as a The Educationist journalist. He has conducted an interview with now former Vice Chancellor of Ajaib Singh Brar from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India; and former Vice Chancellor of Punjab University and mathematician Professor Dr. Ram Parakash Bambah and many other renowned figures.

Many of Ittefaq’s articles were published online during his journalism career including investigative reporting which were printed on both the front and back page of The Educationist. Link here to one of Ittefaq’s article.

He said he believes the journalism community is facing many challenges today. “Pressure groups, non-state actors in a society put a lot of pressure on journalists and reporters, especially when they report against their interest, more precisely in investigative journalism,” Ittefaq said.

But not only Pakistan but also many Asian journalists are coping with challenges. For instance:

  • wage issues
  • reporting issues
  • lack of training and workshops
  • international exposure
  • threats to the profession
  • non-familiarity with new technologies
  • data journalism and visualization
  • new trends in multimedia journalism
  • lack of effective use of social media such as Twitter and Instagram
  • safety of journalists
  • low press freedom
  • no insurance
  • sometimes receive death threats

“Journalism is going to become hard and tough job in this modern era, especially since 2000. Fake news, fact-checking and investigative reporting is hard due to globalization of journalism. Journalism is not just to report the facts, but also about honesty, objectivity, professionalism with respect ethics and truth,” said Ittefaq.

Furthermore, he believes in professional growth, commitments and exposure in the journalism profession.

Anaheim EIJ 17 logo

Ittefaq will be attending the Excellence in Journalism Conference EIJ17 to be held in Anaheim, California, USA, on Sept. 7 – 9, 2017. The conference is organized by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) with the cooperation of The Native American Journalists Association. 

Ittefaq believes that this conference will be an asset for his professional life and an opportunity to see the new trends in the journalism field. There will be more than 1500 journalists attending and it is a great opportunity to get to know each other and attend exciting workshops.

Muhammad can be reached at ittefaqmuhammad1@gmail.com

Twitter:  @IttefaqM

 

 

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