June 13, 2011, 8:30 p.m.
Reporting in Times of War: Press Freedom in Afghanistan 2008-2011 looks at the current state of the media in Afghanistan. It focuses on the fact that there has been wide growth since 2001 following the collapse of the Taliban, combined with the difficulties in implementing new regulatory frameworks and organizations. While laws have been passed regarding free and fair access to information its implementation still has not materialized. Journalists face many difficulties and frequently face harassment, threats, and death. This can lead to self censorship decreasing the freedom of the media and limiting what topics are covered.
One area where the media has found roadblocks within Afghanistan has been with the two main regulatory bodies, the Mass Media Commission (MMC) and the High Media Council (HMC). The composition and authority of the MMC and HMC are questioned by Afghani journalists due to the selection process and the state of limbo they are in. The report brings up the fact that while the overall number of independent media organizations has increased over time, the outlook for them is not bright due to fewer donors and advertisements. The need for financial support has in part led to growing levels of ethnic and partisan influence, diminishing the ability for the media to be free and impartial.
Journalism in Afghanistan has made rapid strides over the last decade, compressing into a short period a learning experience that other countries with much more congenial legal and political environments, took much longer over. There is the threat that the continuing culture of violence in the country could undermine the gains registered so far, as also the problem that media sustainability in a country dependent on donor assistance is always a gamble. The IFJ, in association with all its partners in Afghanistan, believes there is a need for the donor community to remain committed to Afghanistan long term and to pay special assistance to the imperative of developing a free media for the country.