Journalism Education in the Pakistani Borderlands

Document Type



Graduate School of Media and Communications


Students brave roadside bombs and Taliban threats while on class assignments. Professors are kidnapped and killed. Campus radio stations get regular visits from military intelligence. Welcome to journalism education in Pakistan's tribal areas. The region is off-limits to most outsiders, so students find themselves reporting for Pakistani and Western news organizations even before they graduate. But some learn the hardest lessons of journalism early. Two died when their vehicle hit a land mine while on assignment for a regional radio station; another was killed in a Peshawar bomb blast. The programs at Gomal University, Hazara University, Kohat University of Science & Technology, and the University of Peshawar are receiving assistance from international donors. The goal is to bolster journalism education and, through campus radio stations at the universities, help bridge the sectarian divide in the region and provide an alternative to the so-called Mullah Radio stations broadcasting from across the border in Afghanistan. The author was recently asked to work with faculty from those programs to adapt their curricula to journalism's digital future. Just as the universities are trying to adjust to the digital age, so too are their students adapting to the new realities of Pakistan's political and social landscape. In this article, the author describes what it takes to get the story in a war zone.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Chronicle of Higher Education