Pakistani journalists tour RBHS

Pakistani journalists tour RBHS

Daphne Yu

The Pakistani visitors stop by the journalism room on their tour. Photo by George Sarifianos
The Pakistani visitors stop by the journalism room on their tour. Photo by George Sarifianos

Near the end of first hour this morning, seven Pakistani journalists arrived at RBHS for a two hour visit. As part of a group of journalists chosen by the East-West Center, which works to facilitate collaboration, expertise and leadership, the Pakistani visitors stopped by on a 10-12 day tour of the United States, which started in Washington D.C.

Because of RBHS’ proximity to the University of Missouri-Columbia’s school of journalism, the East-West Center chose RBHS as a visiting destination, Susan Kreifels, the media program Manager at East-West said.

“The J[ournalism] school at the University of Missouri is a really good one,” Kreifels said “And we stopped by Rock Bridge high school last year so we wanted to do that again this year.”

One of the things Kreifels – who was once a foreign correspondent in Asia – hoped East-West would do for the Pakistani journalists was to introduce them to the culture of the U.S., which is what the journalists hungered for as well.

“The very idea of the [East-West] Center was the cultural exchange and getting to know the people in a better light and what the reality is and not from the media created reality,” said Sana Sif Tirmazee, a reporter for Dawn News. “Because that’s a huge problem. And between the U.S. and Pakistan, it’s a very up and down sort of relationship.”

As part of the discussion, the journalists discussed how technology, such as drones, could help them in covering events that happen regularly, like suicide bombings. Many a times overseas, suicide bombings usually come in two waves, the Pakistani journalists said. The first one to draw a crowd, including reporters and first-responders, and a second one to kill the crowd that has gathered, reporters and first-responders included.

And while these acts of terror on the part of militants and terrorists occur often, the journalists said, the U.S. news outlets rarely report them as a huge issue. Instead, when the U.S. government deploys drones to bomb areas considered hiding places for terrorist, the journalists said, they end up killing innocent people as well, which increases the animosity the Pakistani public feels towards the U.S.

In order to avoid biased reporting, the journalists stressed, they wanted to come and understand what was going on in the U.S. culturally. One thing they have noticed already is how prevalent religion is to people here, contrary on “American soap operas” they associate the U.S. culture with. When enjoying a meal last night with host families introduced to them through the Methodist church, one journalist, Najia Asher, was surprised when they prayed before eating. Little things like these are what stand out to the journalists, as well as a broad perspective.

“It was very important for us to come here and get to know the people before we write about them. I think it’s very important to get to know the people on [the same] ground and see them for ourselves,” Tirmazee said. “And as a journalist, that is also very important for me, and all the people I’m writing about and all the people I’m reporting on.”

Although the two cultures are separated by an ocean, one thing Tirmazee wants to sees in the U.S. to further improve the relationships between the two countries is an open mind.

“What I found about US was that people were not really interested about what was going on outside of [the] US. I think to have better-informed professionals in your future life, it’s very important to know what’s going in and around [the] U.S.,” Tirmazee said. “And look at the world not just from [the] US perspective but from the perspective of people from outside of the US. That will help you in becoming more indepent, open and freer risk takers.”
By Daphne Yu