Alliance for Diversity and Pluralism in Media (ADPM) Statement on News Coverage of Pakistan Floods 2022

The climate change-induced floods in Pakistan have posed a humanitarian disaster of an unprecedented scale, with over 1,500 dead, nearly 35 million affected, and over $10 billion in estimated damages. Two months after the high floods, many areas of Sindh are still underwater while affected parts of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continue to remain in urgent need of post-disaster relief and rehabilitation. With the onset of winter season and the reported spread of viral and waterborne diseases among the flood-affected communities, the long-term needs of the flood survivors cannot be ignored.

The news media have an important public-interest role in highlighting the extent of such catastrophes and identifying the need for rescue, relief, and rehabilitation efforts. While social media, online journalism, and international news outlets have produced exemplary coverage of the Pakistan floods, the mainstream news media, barring a few exceptions, have largely failed to prioritize the coverage of the disaster over political current affairs.

The Alliance for Diversity and Pluralism (ADPM) calls upon mainstream broadcast and print news outlets to realize their public interest role in providing in-depth, sensitive, and compassionate news coverage of the impact of floods on local communities across Pakistan.

The ADPM is an advisory alliance of journalists and rights activists that works to promote inclusive and pluralistic public interest journalism in the Pakistani media.

Despite the immediacy and growing clout of social media, the broadcast and print news media outlets are still immensely influential in affecting policy and governance decisions. The vulnerable segments of the public in Pakistan’s rural and remote areas including the flood-affected areas still look up to the mainstream media, especially TV channels, to highlight their issues.

The legacy news media not only have a responsibility in this hour of national need when the dangerous effects of climate change in Pakistan are being recognized around the world, but also this is an opportunity for the news media to rebuild its trust with the public.

In the context of the floods, the news media can focus on issues such as child mortality, maternal health, and the incidence of waterborne disease, among other developments. The media could also do well to highlight the impact of floods on population segments that were already marginalized before the disaster, such as working classes, religious minorities, transgender persons, among others and who are most likely to become further marginalized as a result of the devastation caused by floods.

At the same time, the ADPM appreciates the news coverage of floods done by the digital-only news media, including members of the Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP), which have kept the spotlight on the floods despite their limited means and accessibility issues.

The ADPM encourages the digital journalists and online news outlets to ensure that their focus on the flood coverage does not dwindle with time. The destruction caused by the 2022 floods is expected to affect local communities for years. At the moment, flood survivors need help with immediate rescue and relief. But soon, millions of Pakistanis who have been uprooted and displaced by the floods will need assistance regarding housing, nutrition, employment, education, and economic uplift. In these circumstances, the ADPM believes the digital news media can serve as a watchdog to ensure the equitable distribution of relief goods and the timely provision of rehabilitation services.

In conclusion, the ADPM appeals to all public interest news media in the country to use their journalism in aid of the flood-affected citizens of Pakistan.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Muhammad Aftab Alam

Convener, Alliance for Diversity and Pluralism in Media in Pakistan (ADPM)