had a steady flow of visitors. Prominent among them are:
‘If the police say go south, go north,’ Pillai tells young scribes
Bangalore, Sep 10: Veteran journalist Ajith Pillai gave student journalists some sound advice on their future careers at a talk today on campus.
Pillai, whose book “Off the Record: Untold Stories from a Reporter’s Diary” has just been published, spoke candidly to his young audience about the trials, tribulations and highlights of his 28-year-long career.
“If the police say go south, go north,” was what one BBC colleague covering India told Pillai about how best to cover the country as a journalist, he revealed.
He elaborated on the challenges faced by journalists in today’s times and how the scenario has changed in India over the past few decades.
Mr Pillai began by talking about how different journalism was in the 1980s, when you either had “a good story, or no story”. He then elaborated on the sea change that Indian journalism went through, with an increasing number of supplements-pretending-to-be-news and paid news.
He talked at length about the many issues that plague Indian journalism today, like corporate firms taking over media houses and the ensuing censorship. Talking about a lack of rural reporting in India, he added that a typical editor’s attitude was that rural reporting is down-market and doesn’t interest the readers.
Pillai, who has worked for many Sunday, daily and weekly titles across the country and who also wrote for Outlook magazine, shared interesting anecdotes about his own experiences as a reporter to make his point.
His descriptions indeed made journalism sound like a series of adventures. He stressed the need to do fieldwork as opposed to working from the newsroom which, in fact is encouraged in some media houses today. “If you follow a tip-off, you might be barking up the wrong tree, but occasionally you land up with a good story,” he added.
One of his major qualms with today’s newspapers is that they are owned by corporates, which in turn leads to censorships. He said, “It isn’t the fault of journalists, rather the managements are at fault for deciding to keep quiet.“
He ended an interesting session by giving a variety of useful tips to students, which ranged from a simple “take initiative” to something enlightening, like “When the police say go south, go north”. What stood out in his entire talk was that he was a man of strong journalistic principles, and the changing scenario of media wasn’t going to change him in any way whatsoever.
By Tushar Kaushik
Mandy Jenkins: Social media lets us be everywhere
Social media “amplifies the voices of regular people,” said Mandy Jenkins, a social media expert and the editor of Open Newsroom at Storyful, which helps cover stories using social media tools.
At the invitation of the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, Jenkins visited the IIJNM campus for an interactive lecture discussion on social media’s Impact on journalism for students and faculty.
Jenkins said social media existed long before most people assumed. She presented a brief history of how social media evolved in the last two decades, which was attributable to the rise of the internet.
“Social media has made the world smaller,” she said.
She explained how various social media sites such as Facebook, which is most used by Indians, and Twitter have covered and broken stories in nonconventional forms. This also has led to the emergence of citizen journalism, in which the general public plays the part of journalists.
However, she also said unlike the United States, where print media is dying, traditional forms of journalism are still thriving in India.
“In India, science is present everywhere,” said Jenkins when talking about how technology should be handy to journalists.
She also said journalists should always take advantage of the rapidly changing technological environment around us.
“Things will change, but always be ready to adapt to this change,” Jenkins said.
By Noah DMello
TOI accused of weakening editorial powers
A former journalist of The Times of India said Tuesday her former newspaper was largely responsible for undermining the powers of India’s newspaper editors.
Sangita Menon Malhan, author of the book “The TOI Story: How a Newspaper Changed the Rules of the Game” (HarperCollins India) told IIJNM students that the newspaper’s focus on making money had sidelined its editors, and editors of other newspapers that had copied its commercial slant had been similarly weakened.
Speaking about the book and the research put into it, she said it was TOI’s consistent business performance that initially provoked her to study the paper.
Recounting her experience working in TOI’s business section, she said that it was in 1999 that she was told that the focus of reporting needed to shift to the corporate sector. Reporters were asked to follow companies and corporate houses.
She said she had focused on the TOI’s history between 1985 and 1995.
She said her book was not just a history of TOI, the newspaper, but it was also a biographical account of Samir Jain’s association with the organ. She described Jain’s tenure as one of the most interesting phases of the newspaper’s history.
Terming her book “a book of interviews,” she said that a lot of people were initially “aghast” that such a research was being done about the newspaper.
Criticizing many of the newspaper’s moves, she said that in many ways TOI was responsible for the changes that were brought about in many other newspapers. Moves by the newspaper, like buying out competition, also came in for criticism.
“The bottom line is sacrosanct at the TOI,” and this has led to a “seduction of the mediocre reader,” she said.
By Mayukh Mukherjee
How journalism got its MoJo back
Sarah Jones, head of broadcast journalism at the University of Salford inManchester, England, spoke to students of IIJNM on the emerging field of mobile journalism on Feb. 12.
Although her lecture might have been expected to be most relevant to students in the Broadcast stream, as showed how to use a mobile phone instead of a camera for shooting a story—MoJo as she called it—students belonging to the Multimedia and Print streams benefited from it as well.
She lectured them about different ways of taking a clean shot from a mobile, and what to do and what not to do to ensure clarity of a shot. She also showed the students portable and handy gadgets and accessories they could use in situations where they might not have access to their usual cameras.
Mahatma, Martin Luther King and Mandela: Three men who changed the world
Responsibility in leadership, exemplary focus on public need and perseverance were common attributes shared by three of the world’s great leaders , according to David Gainer, Public Affairs Officer at the U. S. Consulate General, Chennai.
Gainer addressed students of four journalism colleges via a Google Hangouts live-link, on “Building a better world: Influence of the 3Ms - Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi,”
On the eve of the Unites States celebrating Black History Month, the US Consulate General Office at Chennai had organized the combined talk with IIJNM, Manipal University, University of Mysore and the Karnataka State Women’s University in Bijapur. Journalism students from all colleges took part in the event, on Wednesday.
“I don’t agree that racism is over and done with in the US. It is a constant battle. Everything is always getting better and there is a constant conflict between equality and justice. Each generation needs to tackle and talk about it,” Mr Gainer said.
He added that he believes the United States has become more integrated over time but still had some serious issues to tackle, but believed that The US was now largely a country where children go to school together without any discrimination and people are allowed to marry without any restrictions.
In the last 15 to 20 years there has been a remarkable growth in both the Indian and American economies, he said. “In Chennai at the Consulate, we are the largest processor and issuer for work visas than any other US consulate office in the world, by far. Lots of American companies are investing in India.”
The discussion focused on topics of concern in relation to US and India and Gainer spoke about Black History Month in order to celebrate the achievements of America and the history of black Americans in the US.
“In the US, outsiders face discrimination but the problem persists in other countries of the world as well. You might grow up to accepting different cultures and religious beliefs but in the end we are all the same,” he said.
He also admitted that his country had made some foreign policy mistakes in the past, especially with its support of the Apartheid movement in South Africa and its classification of Nelson Mandela as a terrorist. He said all countries - including his – had learned from past mistakes.
Mr Gainer mainly spoke about education and its importance. The core goal of a good educational institution should be education that teaches rational thinking. He added: “I believe that with the technology that we are using today we can get a lot of information that cannot be trusted. It should inculcate the ability to use reason and think about credibility.”
He concluded the discussion with a piece of advice: “Challenge yourself and do something different, something unusual and remember that this is a complicated world.”
Veeraraghav: ‘What will make you better as a journalist?’
Aspiring journalists should make long-term plans when deciding where to start their professional careers, former CNN-IBN senior editor T.M. Veeraraghav told students of the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media on Tuesday.
Speaking on how to make the choice of where to work in tandem with where one wants to reach as a journalist, Veeraraghav said analyzing career options should be one’s priority.
Referring to students aspiring for jobs in big media houses, he started his presentation with the question of how relevant is the tag of having worked in a big media house after five years.
He said almost 90 percent of the freshers working in large organizations are frustrated within three to four years of joining. He said that these large organizations take a lot out of these journalists and regard these journalists as cheap labor.
In today’s world, organizations want to build a relation based on trust with their audience, as do individuals.
A holistic approach to journalism and doing the stories a person wants to do eventually helps the person build his own audience—an audience that respects the individual journalist more than the organization for which he works.
A better cost-to-company ought not to be the only consideration while choosing a job.
Citing the example of veteran journalist, P. Sainath, Veeraraghav stressed the point of working in an organization where the individual efforts are not overshadowed.
He said that while some stories help the newspapers grow; the individual journalist needs to tread away from the beaten track and work on issues others don’t really care to cover.
Continuous introspection is essential for the development of a journalist. The question that very journalist must ask himself, “What will make me better?”
Speaking on the changing trends of news viewership, he said that the internet has taken over from the television as the medium of viewership.
He suggested journalists to use blogging as a method to build their credentials and win public confidence.
Telling the students not to get overawed by the brands they work for, he suggested that they figure out what they get out of the brand.
Responding to questions on how long a journalist should generally stay at a place, Veeraraghav said that the first stint should ideally be five years, since it teaches them the virtue of patience.
Responding to queries about situations when a person really wants to write about something, he said that the first thing to be understood was if the person was genuinely capable of writing on the topic.
By Mayukh Mukherjee
Veeraraghav: Journalists part of the system
Journalists are part of the system so it becomes difficult for them to change the system, according to veteran TV journalist T.M. Veeraraghav.
Speaking to students at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media on Tuesday, Veeraraghav, who has worked with top TV channels in India, pointed out that 24/7 news channels use "shock," "outrage" and "shame" to garner viewers.
This, he explained, was due to a "lazy, low-cost, super business model" that has become the norm within most channels in order to keep the audience happy. It is easier to call people on a panel and hold a discussion than send off three reporting teams in different directions to produce one story, he said. In due course, they forget the ethics of journalism that were once familiar to them, he added.
Taking the example of the Mumbai gang-rape case, he said that when two rapes happen, the one occurring in the urban area is given more importance than the one in the village. A rape is a rape, and a crime is a crime, he said, adding that a journalist must not prioritize news cavalierly.
Journalists who have become household names today do not really contribute to bringing a change in the society, he said. Rather, they seem to be caught in a rat race to get more advertisers for their channels.
He said, this is because of a transition in the audience’s perception. Thanks to misleading TV ratings and therefore a skewed viewer-news choice relationship, journalists deviate from their real mission and set out to showcase stories that will be mostly watched and liked.
Journalists, he pointed out, are neither elected nor chosen by the people. Yet they play the role of torch-bearers in society. Therefore, they have responsibility to ensure that they do not abuse the power they wield, nor are used by people with agendas, Veeraraghav said.
By Prutha Subhash Bhosle
Journalists can influence the game: Syed Kirmani
Journalists must adhere to basic ethics of journalism and be true to their audiences, said Syed Kirmani, former Indian cricketer. Media can influence the game and the people involved, he said, speaking at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, recentlyMr. Kirmani spoke about how print and the electronic media played a major role in his own successes. He said that the print media brought him into the limelight and made him a public figure over a period of time. However, Mr. Kirmani also claimed that he was a victim of paid news.
He said:”A journalist was hired by an association to write ill about me just so that I could be dropped and some other player can replace me. They were actually successful in their motive as I was dropped. I did make a comeback and confront him.”
He was quite candid when he said that media can be irresponsible, judgmental and have short-term goals. Media learns something, puts its own spin to it and presents an entirely wrong picture, he said.
He said: “One doesn’t need to spice things up in order to get mileage. One can write with utmost authenticity and can be guaranteed that people will read. They will in fact look out for one’s articles because they know that the person has done thorough research and the report is written considering all sides of the story.”
He also cleared the air about his statements on M. S. Dhoni, the Indian national cricket team’s current captain. “I have always liked Dhoni. I believe he is an epitome of captaincy. He is cool and calm and takes the team along by leading them from the front. But, I was misquoted by one of the reporters who claimed in his headline that I wasn’t happy with Dhoni’s technique.” Mr. Kirmani said.
Journalists have to apply their own thought processes while reporting on anything, he said. It’s imperative that they try and get to know both sides of the story. But, what is more important is that one has to put his foot down and say no to something that one believes is wrong.
By Durgesh Pramod Malvadkar
Corruption is the bane of the state’s health system says Dr. Sudarshan
Corruption in Karnataka’s healthcare system is making it impossible for basic healthcare to reach the tribal and rural population, says Dr. H. Sudarshan, former chairman of the State Task Force on Health and Family Welfare.
Dr. Sudarshan was speaking to the students of IIJNM Wednesday morning.
He said that if India had more equity, more sustainable development and a corruption-free government, health care would reach all citizens. “The basic aim of all my efforts in the healthcare department was ‘reaching the unreached’ and my inspiration comes from people like Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Vivekananda,” he said, and explained how he worked for tribal healthcare in naxal-affected areas and areas which prone to insurgency.
Dr. Sudarshan, who is best known for his work with the Soliga Tribes in B.R. Hills said, “Poverty is the main problem with providing healthcare to the tribes.” He has been promoting public-private partnerships (PPP) in public health and said, “Public health is of prime importance and PPP is important to make healthcare affordable to the tribes.”
The partnership should not be purely profit or loss-based but should revolve around policy making, Dr. Sudarshan said, and explained how the Karuna trust that he runs was instrumental in bringing down the cases of infant and maternal mortalities Gumballi primary health care centre.
Though the Karnataka government had increased its expenditure on healthcare, Dr. Sudarshan said that it had to go up further. The decentralized healthcare expenditure, he said was Rs. 100 per person, and far lesser than the government’s actual spending. He called for the decentralization of health care, but added,: “We are left to choose with centralized corruption or decentralized corruption.”
As head of the Task Force, Dr. Sudarshan had recommended that the government not increase the number of medical, nursing and pharmacy colleges in the State, but the State government went ahead permitting so many institutions that Karnataka has the highest number of medical colleges in the country, he said.
The right to offend and freedom of expression go hand-in-hand says legal activist
“Freedom of speech and expression should be accompanied by the right to offend”, said Lawrence Liang, legal activist and co-founder of Alternative Law Forum. He talked about censorship and freedom of speech and expression in India at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore.
Liang believes that the right to freedom of expression is meaningless unless you also have a right to offend because “expression of dissent will obviously offend someone.”
Liang, spoke about the IT Act 66(A) under which Shaheen Dhadha and her friend who made a comment on Facebook after the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, and two Air India employees who liked a post on Facebook that was critical of the Congress party were arrested. He said: “Article 66(A) uses a category as loose as ‘causing grave annoyance’ to take action against. ‘Grave annoyance’ is so subjective that anybody can take action for anything on anyone.”
He called Aaron Swartz, the developer of the RSS news feed, as the first martyr of the free information movement for the work he did for writers who were losing money while websites were rolling in dollars. He also pointed out that the internet had resulted in drawbacks in following constitutional law in India. When Caravan magazine wrote an article about Arindham Choudhary, a case was filed against them in remote Silchar, Assam. This was because the law states that a case can be filed anywhere the publication in circulated. “Thanks to the internet, it means literally anywhere,” he said.
Liang discussed issues of sedition, hate speech and obscenity and the problems arising from what he labelled their subjective nature. What may be offensive to one may not be offensive to another, he argued.
The laws against sedition had led to about 14,000 people being charged with sedition for protesting against the the Kudankulam nuclear plant, as they fear a fate similar to Fukushima.
Liang told his audience of trainee journalists that Mahatma Gandhi believed people should be allowed to voice their opinions—even if they didn’t match the government’s.
He asked whether reasonable restrictions were needed on freedom of expression and on what rationale they would be imposed.
Describing communal disharmony, in the context of hate speech, Liang said: “The Muslims found Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses disrespectful. Hindus were offended when MF Hussain painted the Bharat Mata and Christians were hurt when Dan Brown came out with The Da Vinci Code.” This was even though none of the people in each community read the book nor saw the paintings.
He questioned how one could measure the impact and intensity of words. How much could words hurt and what would hurt who.
He reminded students that India has a really rich history of freedom of speech and expression but added that renowned documentary maker Anant Patwardhan’s work still doesn’t receive clearance from the censor board.
Liang said censorship had played a major role in the Indian cinema since its very inception. Till very recently, there had been complete censorship on nudity, sex scenes and even kissing on screen.
He recounted what Lala Lajpat Rai had once said: “I don’t want the future generation to grow up in a nursery.” He wanted the people of the country to be open to both things good and bad and decide for themselves and not have other people impose censorship on them, Liang added.
Minorities in “battleground states” such as Florida and Ohio helped Barack Obama get re-elected, said David Gainer, Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Chennai, India.
Gainer, along with the Information Officer of the U.S. Consulate, Ms. Heera Kamboj, was addressing students at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media on the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections. Speaking about the electoral process of the United States and quoting statistics from the Pew Research Center, Gainer said that Hispanics and African Americans in key swing states voted for Obama and helped him get re-elected.
“In Ohio for example, African Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of Obama,” he said.
Gainer said that the strong backing of the minorities helped “offset a strong tilt against President Obama, who had actually lost some of the white voters.”
He added that huge gains with other key audiences such as young people, women and minorities had also contributed greatly to Obama’s campaign.
Unemployment was one of the major issues which voters in the U.S. were concerned about, claimed Gainer. He said that though there was an almost even split in voter confidence on which candidate would handle the economic situation better, almost 53% of those involved in the Pew Research Poll blamed Former U.S. President, George W. Bush for the current state of the economy.
Switching focus to how U.S. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney used the media in their campaigns to get their messages across, Heera Kamboj,a United States Information Officer also based in Chennai , said that while Romney invested heavily in television campaign messages, Obama "was leveraging social media to get young people to come out and vote.” Apart from the elections, Gainer also spoke in glowing terms about the growing relationship between India and the U.S.
He said that the relations between the two countries will “continue to deepen, widen and grow,” in the coming years.
Journalists have to fight for stories in a shrinking space: DNA editor
“Every newsroom is slimed, it’s a continuous war,” said Yogesh Pawar, Bureau Chief of DNA Mumbai. We have to fight for our stories in the ever shrinking space, be it a newspaper or a channel. He also talked about how there will be conflict of interests with the kind of stories we do and the stance our media organization has. Fighting for a story in that small space available is very important, he said.
Mr. Pawar said that these large monoliths in the media industry cannot maintain objective neutrality, due to the stakes they hold outside the media world.
This is because the media industry is experiencing convergence on various levels. On one hand there is convergence of the various mediums, while on the other hand, there is convergence of professions where we see media houses that are owned by builders, lobbyists, corporate houses, etc.
“Finance and Journalism do not go together,” he added. And that’s why he does not believe in financial journalism; for him, these two are conflicting ideas.
As a graduate out of Tata institute of Social Sciences, he is interested in development, environment and cultural issues. During his graduation in TISS he was very impressed with Thomas Ross’ theory.
He drew parallels from Ross’ theory and talks about the locality development model bringing about change in the status quo. He illustrated an incident from the time he was doing his internship at The Centurion, in their welfare department. He told us about how the women of the staff members got together and stopped their men from gambling. In this context he spoke about the Narmada Bachao Andolan. In his views, it is by far the most impressive movement in terms of mobilizing masses towards bringing about a change. Though it is seen as a failure, the efforts cannot be dismissed, according to Pawar.
He spoke about his experiences while looking for a job with the Times of India. When asked if self regulation was the way forward for the Indian media, he expressed his disapproval for it. He said some laws need to be in place. Self regulation at the moment is not the best option as the media houses which default the most have stakes somewhere else and there is conflict of interests.
Another question raised was about the future of investigative journalism and how there are very few media houses which have a strong investigative cell. To which he replied that investigative journalism is very narrow in India and thus more often than not does not get that space.
“Urban India is like Mona Lisa’s painting,” said Geeta Menon who works for the rights of the unorganised sector.
She explains, the painting exhibits a woman’s charming smile but behind her smile there are hidden secrets; similarly urban India looks very glorious and is full of promises but there is darker side to this glory.
Menon is one of the founding members of the Stree Jaagruti Samathi, an organization working for the rights of the unorganized sector. Speaking to students at the at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) on November 18, 2011, she emphasised that the labour class of India has played a major role in forming the glorious image of India; but has been mistreated and ignored by the other sections of the society.
She proved her point by citing an example of how the news of a labourer’s death in an accident on a construction site will get little space in newspapers, but Aishwarya Rai’s new born baby will be covered extensively.
Menon feels the Indian society has a schizophrenic attitude, people in this country believe that there is a divide that prevails--that there exists a class system of high and low, of mental and physical division, of labour and of purity and pollution. And these notions are very strong in every section of the society, be it urban or rural.
She also discussed the issue of domestic help in Bangalore; of how people derogate them by calling them servants or referring to them as untouchable. Many housing societies in Bangalore even have a separate lift for them, she pointed out.
Even when it comes to civic planning they are not considered as part of the society. The civic planning divides a city into residential complex, commercial complex and has sections for industrialization but there are no divisions made for the weaker section of the society.
The need of the hour is to get the unorganized labours registered she said, adding that registration will help them get equal rights in an unjust society.
She also stressed the importance of citizen participation in gathering data of the unorganized labour force in the city, especially the ones who migrating here.
By Manu Bhan
"If you want to report on urban issues, you need to know how the city functions." said Dr. Ashwin Mahesh, Professor at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and CEO of Mapunity. "And to know about it you should know what is the difference between what is happening and what is supposed to happen in our system.">
Taking the example of BBMP ward elections he said that the elections are supposed to happen every 5 years but after 2001 the election were held in 2010. This illustrates the situation of the system and the corruption that flows in it.
"According to the rules a city can only have a corporation if its population exceeds 10 lakh. Karnataka has eight Municipal corporations which clearly show that the rules are followed loosely", he said.
In his talk on Governance in Urban Issues, he discussed urban governance, elections, politics, corruption, budget and the way the government functions.
As far as the facilities in the city were concerned, the rules should be regulated by the city not the state government, he said. “If there are any issues regarding water, transport, electricity, potholes, etc we should be able to report them to the departments concerned, but all the decisions or rules are regulated by the state government. Every department needs to report to the state government and take actions accordingly so regulation cannot be changed for a particular part of the city.”
Discussing housing, Dr. Mahesh said that everyday around 1000 migrants from different part of the country move to Bangalore and the city does not have enough space to accommodate all of them in it. The soil of the city isn’t suitable for growing it vertically and for moving horizontally it really hard to connect all the parts of the city. We do not have enough resources also to accommodate everyone and give the same share of facilities.
He said that if we want governance to be in regulated in a systematic manner, we must know how it runs and make sure everything happens in the way it’s supposed to happen.
Destructive mining will lead to shortages
“The rate at which India is making wasteful use of mineral resources like aluminum for packaging of soft drinks, when we will need it for building spacecrafts we will not have enough bauxite,” said Dr. R. Sreedhar, Chairperson, Mines Minerals and People, a national alliance setup for combating the destructive nature of mining.
Dr. Sreedhar brought into light a very important issue faced by the country and especially by Karnataka after the recent scam, mining. Mining has been the oldest known activity apart from agriculture in the country. Dr. Sreedhar explained the depth of the situation by saying that if deforestation is carried out, new saplings can be planted to recover the loss incurred by the ecosystem but if we exploit iron ore irrationally then we have no way of putting it back. He unveiled the picture by saying that for mining of every one ton of aluminum five to six tons of earth is dug up.
In his hour long session he talked about exports of iron ore, the nationalization of coal mining and illegal mining in parts of the country like Karnataka, Orissa and Goa. He gave an eye opening fact by saying that this year 82,423 illegal mines have been reported in the Parliament.
He then listed the concerns of illegal mining namely, revenue loss, pollution, degradation of land and displacement of people.
Dr. Sreedhar exposed the reality of the mining hubs by telling about the way children and women are sexually abused. With this he talked about places like Talche and Angul in Orissa where the forest is nowhere to be found and where maximum numbers of unwed mothers live. In 1980s Kolar used to have 21,000 people engaged in this profession but today its source of livelihood has turned it into a ghost town.
Reaching the end of the session he discussed some alternatives like decentralization of energy sources and promotion of wind and solar energy. Some of the proposals by Mines Minerals and People are to have a new moratorium of new mining leases and, as half a million people have been displaced, a time-bound program must be there to deal with legacy issues.
By Isha Bajpai
Are we media houses or propaganda factories?
In every disaster zone the needy don’t get what they deserve and not much of this is covered by the media. The relief packages sent are consumed by the more powerful in the area, leaving the poor helpless, said Dr.Unnikrishnan, disaster response policy coordinator. In his lecture on ‘media and humanitarian issues’ at IIJNM, he widely discussed the role of information, communication and media in sustaining lives and protecting rights.
During times of crisis it’s not only doctors who can save lives but also journalists by passing on reliable information, he said. In his 90-minute lecture he spoke on an array of topics ranging from relief measures, increasing poverty, fast growing globalization to changing trends in disasters.
Sharing his personal experiences on working with victims of landmines in Afghanistan, earthquake in Haiti and with raped women in Congo he said there was an urgent need for journalists to report on post disaster issues. War, blood-shed, political conflicts and natural disasters destroy human dignity and valuable resources. “When two big elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers,” he said.
Today there are more internal conflicts than external ones. The Congo rapes have had a harsh impact, especially on children and women. Refugees suffered from depression, he pointed out. In the Rwanda Genocide more than 1 million people are yet to be identified. Fifty percent of them died in relief camps Dr. Unnikrishnan said.
He added that an average disaster kills 573 people in a poor country whereas in a rich country it kills only 51 people. Most conflict-related deaths take place in developing countries.
Questioning the media’s role in conflicts like Palestine, Iraq Gulf War 2 and Rwanda genocide Unnikrishnan remarked “Do you remember the reason then President Bush gave for his attack on Iraq? Was it justified? Every story has my version, your version and the truth. Are we media houses or propaganda factories?”
Journalists shouldn’t serve as a platform for corporate houses to promote their products nor pharmaceutical companies to sell their medicines, he said. During the bird flu saga three companies hurriedly created vaccines and sold them at exorbitant rates neither of which stated they could prevent or heal the infection.
“As many as 892 journalists were killed covering conflicts. 56% of them were covering politics. How do you motivate the next generation of journalist to cover serious issues and not fall for glam and glitz,” asked a student Abhijit Bhambra. To which Unnikrishnan stated “Take inspiration of courageous journalism from the recent Tunisia revolution. Good reporting does not come from PhD degrees. Take a risk and see because that’s what makes a difference.”
“I remember during an earthquake disaster a woman asked for a radio and not any medical facility. Such is the demand for information,” concluded Dr. Unnikrishnan. Media’s role is not just to report or expose but to inform, educate and empower. Lives can be saved with accurate and well targeted information.
By Dipika Pillay
Dirty Dishes, Human Rights and the GDP
“India still ranks 136 in the gender development index, and we speak of equality”, said Geeta Menon, of Stree Jagruti Samiti, speaking to the students at Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore on March 14, 2011.
She has been working for the rights of the unorganized sector for the Stree Jagruti Samiti that began in 1980s.
Menon considers the domestic workers to be the most exploited sector of the service sector in India. There has been no law in the country that provides benefits to these workers. According to a National Sample Survey report, there are 1.1 million domestic workers in the country and the maximum of them are women.
“Household work is still considered to be the exclusive domain of the female gender,” said Menon.
She put forward an argument on how these domestic workers pave the way for the country’s GDP though they themselves do not contribute to it. The workers work in the homes of people who contribute to the GDP as it would not have been possible for them to go to work with such an ease if the workers were not there to help them out at home.
“We still have the feudal mental setup that these workers are untouchable, they are different from us only because they are poor,” said Menon.
She pointed out the hypocrisy in the society that on one hand, worships women as goddess and on the other they treat her as bonded laborers.
According to Geeta Menon, the media response to their protests has been derogatory, with people asking that being journalists they do not get holidays, how do domestic workers seek holiday in a month.
She ended her discussion with the point that there should be a regulatory body within the government which would recognize the domestic workers and give them benefits such as pension and health facilities.
This is the only way to empower them, she said.
Finding new ways to break the news
Throwing light on a new generation of journalism, Poynter.org managing editor Steve Myers spoke to students at IIJNM on how new media resources can be used more effectively to report news.
“The values of journalism remain the same, but we’ve found new ways of doing the old thing,” Myers said, explaining that the web was a great way to reach a larger global audience.
He looked at how Twitter was innovatory in spreading news, especially during the recent revolts across North Africa. He looked at using a “storify” method to track developing stories and said that social media was a great way of going about this.
He also flagged other trends in new media that would soon impact journalism, such as the move to curate information.
“As journalists, we think that we must report primary information, but we should also look at acting as filters for our audiences,” Myers said. “Curation is the next big movement in journalism, where we curate information and spread it.”
Starting out by adding that everything he was speaking about were thing he only learnt two years ago, Myers reflected on the dynamism of journalism in the world of growing technology.
He discussed several news applications that have been programmed to make information dissemination more comprehensive and reader friendly. He gave the students a list of applications that they could get started on, like DocumentCloud, to sort and annotate government documents.
Myers used several examples of new media usage in the field to illustrate his examples, from Andy Carvin of NPR using Twitter to find sources in North Africa to making census data more user-friendly. He looked at how online editions, like the New York Times’ website engaged with their readers during the last American elections.
Myers has been with Poynter since 2007 and has worked as a journalist for 15 years. He started out as a crime and investigative journalist and most notably exposed the faulty flood maps while working with a Katrina Media fellowship.
Monsanto ignoring moratorium says activist
In spite of the ongoing moratorium on GM crops in India, Monsanto is coming up with herbicide tolerant maize later this year, which would affect non- GE crops. It will make weeds herbicide resistant, says Kavitha Kuruganti, Bangalore based activist with special interest in agricultural issues.
Earlier best quality seeds were selected carefully for breeding. Now, genetic modification has taken over the conventional forms. Specific genes can be taken out of an organism and inserted into a plant. The procedure of fishing out the desired gene is easy; however, obtaining the desired output is not. Hence, there is a great risk involved in genetically modified crops. “There can be a lot of permutation and combinations as a result of the gene sequence modification, which is unimaginable,” Kuruganti said. Have changed the quote for it to make sense.
Extensive use of pesticides and chemicals in agriculture made Punjab the “cancer capital of India”. Surface water has been contaminated to the extent of being declared unfit for irrigation. More than 50% of India’s land is classified as degraded. G.M crops are supposed to have more harmful effects on environment.
Kavitha raised a few questions about the safety of G.M crops – does the technology increase cost of production? The kind of food we eat is no more nutritious and safer. Are these crops pests resistant? She gave examples of recent cases of genetic engineering experimentation in Germany where spider gene was mixed with goat, in China Fire fly gene was mixed with tobacco plants and again in Germany the scorpion’s gene was mixed with maize plant which has been unsuccessful.
Farmers have been suffering after using GM crops since 2002, she said. “Majority of farmers can’t meet even their basic needs. People don’t even meet Minimum Support Price”, Says Kavitha. Later she added that M.S.P has been announced on few crops based on the cultivation price but the cost of cultivation is far more than believed.
One of the major issues Indian agriculture is facing is displacement. People are shifting away from agriculture and this is happening without any debate.
“Farmers get negative net returns and 82% of farming household is indebted. Loan waiver things only waived loan from banks but loan from money lenders didn’t seem to be waived,” said Kavitha talking on reasons for shifting to non agriculture areas. She further added while talking about subsidies it was industries which got subsidy not the farmers but now even that is getting phased out.
She suggested that to overcome all these problems democratization of science and technology is needed. “We as a citizen have full rights to know whether their expertise is enough and what kind of transparency level they have,” said Kavitha.
She also suggested that in India there is no independent authentic testing centre or verification centre for genetically modified crops. There should be a good regulatory regime where at least the problems would come out. She suggested formation of a National Bio Safe Protection Authority in India instead of Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India which has certain flaws in it.
Srilankan filmmaker seeks peace
“It’s the time to bring peace to Srilanka,” said S. Someetharan, a Srilankan filmmaker, speaking to the students at Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore on February 14, 2011.
His movies, Burning Memories and Mullaitivu Saga, on burning issues in his country show the reactions of people and the government, covering both sides of the picture.
Speaking about Mullaitivu Saga, which focuses on the action taken by the Srilankan government in 2009 to wipe out LTTE, which in turn took the lives of many more civilians, he said that 300,000 civilians were fatally injured and dead in the process of shelling and firing.
“The UN is a mere observer not even close to a powerful body when it comes to disputes of this extent,” said Someetharan, when asked about the role of UN in asking the Srilankan government to ceasefire.
He gave an example from his movie where Ban Ki-moon, secretary general, UN, said how different it would have been if the international community had acted in time. This was spoken at the time when the killings were going on.
“This proves the nature of UN that cannot do anything but be observers,” said Someetharan
The filmmaker had an interesting observation to make about the Tamils in Srilanka. He said that the LTTE is like a God to them and they feel that they will defend them against the oppression of the government. They feel that the LTTE will fight for their justice.
Burning Memories is based on the burning of 97,000 books in the Jaffna library. It was when the youth movement in Srilanka began and more and more people began joining it.
“The LTTE and even the Maoists are the outcome of deprivation of rights of some sort,” said Someetharan. However, he was quick to state that he doesn’t support them and that the Srilankan people were trapped between the government forces and the LTTE.
He said that the country has been under an emergency situation from the year 1978 and narrated how they have not seen street lights since there used to be a curfew after 6p.m. He recounted tales of collecting gunfire shells and selling them to the LTTE for Rs. 150 per 100 shells.
Someetharan ended his discussion with his views on how Srilanka should achieve peace now since it is the right time to do so as the LTTE, whom the government blamed throughout are absent now.
Another interesting point made during the discussion was that 48 journalists have been killed in Srilanka in the past three years which shows how free press is a myth there.
People are victims of high prices of commodities
Devinder Sharma, a well known journalist, writer and thinker who has been the Development Editor of the Indian Express highlighted how “speculation” has driven up the prices of commodities globally.
“People have become the victims of high prices for commodity trade”, said Sharma, speaking to students at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore on January 21.
Sharma claimed that the biggest “challenge” our country faces is how it has defined the poverty line.
“The average monthly income of an Indian farmer is less than Rs.2400 and most of them fall under below poverty line (BPL) category,” he added.
Speaking on the food security act and the public distribution system (PDS), he stated that more than 40 percent of farmers in India want to quit farming.
Explaining the food crisis, he said three categories of companies --seed and technology companies, trading companies and super markets--in the agriculture sector worldwide are responsible for the crisis.
“When thirty seven countries in the world were facing food crisis in 2008, India did not have that problem. But, this year food inflation has risen to a point that even in a country as self sufficient as India, the prices of commodities are very high.”
He criticized the government’s plans to remove horticulture products (vegetables, fruits and flowers) from the agricultural mandis.
Comparing the agriculture in India and the U.S, he said that U.S. first feeds its people, its animals and then exports the food to other countries. “But, it happens the other way round in India which leaves 320 million people hungry every day”.
Giving an example of how food crisis arises, he pointed out that the rate of interest for TATA Nano factory set-up in Gujarat was 0.1 percent. However, a woman who is a part of self-help group (SHG) has to pay about 24 to 46 percent as the rate of interest per year.
“If we make the poor pay greater rate of interest than the Corporations, this directly or indirectly pushes them into debt which compels them to commit suicide,” he said.
Speaking on genetically modified (GM) food or products, he said the research related to genetic engineering is exciting and at the same time, a cause for worry.
“If a gene enters the body, it disrupts the entire system creating problems. Similarly, GM crops have affected our agricultural produce,” he added.
He emphasized that journalists should analyze and question policies, plans or schemes. “The challenge is to identify the complexities and simplify it for your readers,” he said.
Vandana Shiva to launch Global campaign against Monsanto.
Vandana Shiva, a renowned environmental activist plans to launch an attack on Monsanto to reveal the ill effects of Monsanto GM seeds on the environment.“We are in the process of collecting substantial data about GM seeds and will be launching a campaign against them by April,” said Shiva, while speaking to the aspiring journalists at Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore yesterday.Shiva claimed that in next five years there will be a severe food crisis. She blames the companies that make GM seeds.
GM seeds are sterile and unable to produce a new generation of seeds. Farmers have to buy them every year, exposing themselves to debt and possible financial ruin.
“It is wiping out the agriculture,” she said. She further held companies that produce GM seeds responsible for declining biodiversity. “There used to be 5000 varieties of cotton, but since Monsanto came government has released only one variety, which is BT cotton,” she said. There were 2000 varieties of rice and numerous other crops earlier but now all we get is cotton, rice, canola and corn, she told the students. She also spoke to the students about farmers’ suicides in India. “There were 4,000 suicides last year in Vidarbha and 2.5 lakh in all of India because of liberalization policies,” she said, noting that wealthier farmers seeking higher returns were more likely to use the GM seeds and go into debt to pay for them. “About 84 percent of suicides are related to BT issue.”The suicides are all related to debt, she said.
She explained how farmers using hybrid crops take out loans to buy seeds again every year, and in case the harvest is not good, the bank agents take away the land they put up as collateral, which ultimately leads to farmers’ suicide. Shiva also criticized the government for raiding people who stack up six sacks of onion, not taking action against the companies who have large warehouses and are responsible for increase in cost of production. She supports indigenous seeds and said that they may be lower yielding in some cases but have high yielding value in varieties. Shiva also told aspiring journalists to write the story that matters. “It’s an only profession where you can get paid and also keep you mind and consciense,” she said.
When architecture meets journalism
Students were introduced to a “new dimension of journalism” on Friday, as architectural journalist Apurva Bose spoke at IIJNM.
“Architecture often represents the society we live in,” Bose, who has worked with India’s architectural publications, said.
With an architecture degree from Chandigarh College of Architecture and a journalism diploma from Stonebridge College, Bose has worked with some of India’s biggest Architectural and design publications, including Architecture+Design and Indian Architect and Builder.
While defining the niche field, she pointed how “archi-journalism” dove-tailed of two fields that are intrinsically linked.
“The premise and principle of both fields are the same,” Bose said, explaining how much common ground there is between the functional elements, form, and aesthetic choices of both professions.
Bose highlighted the areas of media coverage that architecture receives, from building material innovations and design trends to eco-architecture and construction critique.
She drew from examples of her own work, such as her critique of the Bangalore International Airport in its infancy, to better illustrate the issues an archi-journalist would delve into.
Bose also looked at disaster management/mitigation in journalism, bringing up the Carlton Towers fire as a case in point.
Journalism has always been about a service to society and architectural journalism is no different, the 2010 winner of First Friday Forum’s creative excellence award, said.
Bose also raised shortcomings in the Indian media coverage of events with an architectural angle. The Commonwealth Games, for instance, had little analysis of what the event’s infrastructure needed. She also contrasted the coverage between the Indian and Western media at events like Shanghai’s World expo, pointing out that the former were not always on the top of things.
Her concise presentation also clearly showed students how they could go about learning the ropes in this field. She listed several employment and career options, and cleared students’ queries on the two.
An interactive session followed, with questions about issues the field faces and whether its niche characteristic limits it. Architecture journalism, Bose responded, was moving beyond just the glossy pages of a weekend magazine and several Indian publications are slowly waking up to it.
TOI News Editor Visits IIJNM
“Nine out of 10 times, a reader always picks up a more visually pleasing newspaper compared to one that has less visual elements,” said Mr. Shirish Koyal in his speech to the print and new media students at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media. Mr Koyal is the news editor of the Times of India (TOI), Bangalore edition.
Sharing his 23 years of experience at the TOI, Mr. Koyal gave the students hints on what are acceptable in design and layout and what are not. He advised that it is essential to “pepper the stories with blurbs, boxes and quotes.” The purpose of using design is to make your product sell, while signalling to the reader what are the most important stories of the day, he said.
Mr Koyal recounted from his experience how he was initially interested in reporting but on the job he was forced to work at the desk. “It is imperative that every journalist should know how to edit and also know how to report. Most young enthusiastic journalists these days prefer reporting to editing,” he pointed out.
One of the major challenges faced by newspapers today involves sifting news from fluff. Another challenge is providing smart headlines that sum up the story for today’s urban readers, who are scanners and not readers. Newspapers are not only competing with other newspapers, they are also competing with the TV medium, which is a lingering threat as it has the “power of visuals,” he said.
This is where the print journalists require an edge over TV reporters. “A reporter must give a 360-degree view of the entire story,” Mr. Koyal said. In times of conflict, it always helps to give a positive perspective instead of infusing negativity, he added.
He ended his talk with a word of advice for the students - “Don’t let your temperaments rise to the sky once you become a journalist!”
need to redefine GDP, growth
of the biggest problems in our country today is the misconception
of many on the meaning of growth, said Dr. Devinder Sharma, agriculture
scientist and journalist.
Speaking to the IIJNM students on August 29, Dr
Sharma said that most policy makers in the country have followed
the text-book definition of the term, believing theoretical assumptions
that a GDP rise would translate into a decline of poverty. Statistics
however tell a different storythe average daily earnings of
a farming family in India stand at Rs.8, and 320 million Indians
go to bed hungry despite no shortage of food in the country.
The media can play an important role in fighting
such problems in our country by beginning to talk about what growth
really means and what it truly represents. Emphasizing on the need
to redefine growth and GDP, Dr Sharma said that existing inequalities
are not reflected in our current growth system.
If journalists wake up and challenge the current
model of development on the basis of its inappropriateness for our
country, society too would wake up, he said. Journalists need to
sensitize themselves and be exposed to the realities that are prevalent
in our country. India needs a growth and development model that
will indicate the true state of the economy in all its aspects,
Dr. Sharma said.
Today's youth are probably complacent as they have
never experienced any food insecurity, even during the global food
crisis in early 2008, he said, adding that the farmer had been overlooked
in the media, though it is he who provides us with food.
Ironically, though agriculture provides a livelihood
to 600 million Indians, the IT sector which employs a fraction of
that figure is boosted heavily by the government, Dr. Sharma said.
Karnataka has the highest number of farmer suicides though it is
home to the IT capital of India, he added. The media can make a
difference, if it chooses to.
Alternatives to the market economy
market society is not a natural evolution but is a human construction,
imposed upon mankind by a market system, said Trent Schroyer, professor
of Sociology and Philosophy at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He
was speaking at a guest lecture at the IIJNM campus.
Schroyer spoke about the application of economics
in the world today, based on his experiences while working with
TOES (The Other Economic Summit-a movement against the G8 agenda
of creating uniform economic strategies for all countries). He said
that powerful countries and organizations like G8, World Trade Organization
(WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations (UN) and
World Bank develop policies that are not very feasible to the poorer
nations. The basic propaganda is for a capital-driven market economy,
and most nations still believe that economic growth is the only
solution for removal of the vices of human society like poverty,
rich-poor gap, etc.
He said, "An economy led by the market does
not take into account the axioms of human behaviour and rationality."
Schroyer said that the world now needs to look at
alternatives to the capitalist economy. One of them is the regeneration
of natural assets. Environmentalism, as well as sustainable growth,
is an effective way, he said. But unfortunately, during the Earth
Summits too, people were not looking beyond economic growth as a
way of the sustaining environment, he remarked.
He said that NGOs had helped a great deal in educating
the illiterate mass about the alternatives and was confident that
such micro-level ideas would come to the forefront.
Workshop provides insights
myths were shattered in a writing workshop held by Michael Cobden
at the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM). The
students of IIJNM were pleasantly surprised when Cobden condemned
to damnation, all that they had taken for granted.
Cobden started off with a review of all the write-ups that the students
had sent across to him. "There is a lot of warmth in your writing,"
he said. And then followed the earth-shattering revelations. It
takes lesser time to read long sentences than a series of short
sentences, it's better to write short sentences, avoid adjectives
and adverbs, do not use big words - these are just a few of the
many eye-openers. The class was taken aback at first, but quickly
recovered to ask some insightful questions.
The workshop was generously sprinkled with anecdotes. The anecdotes
varied from E.B.White's penchant for making seven drafts of a simple
news story to Tom Wolfe's near-resignation experience.
The hourglass need not just refer to a woman's proportions. It can
even be a style of writing news stories creatively, revealed Cobden.
The students were amazed when they learnt that a news story doesn't
necessarily have to be boring. But always remember to put the news
biggest challenge that confronts the science writer is today is
of demystifying science, said Edward Friedman from the Stevens
Institute of Technology who was here to talk to the students about
He gave the
students tips to make the science articles more reader- friendly.
He illustrated by example how the technical science words, which
are also used in everyday language, can lead to confusion. He said
the only way to obviate confusion is to define the words clearly
and not to take the understanding of the readers for granted.
with students and discussed some of the issues that have appeared
in the media like exclusion of Pluto from the list of planets and
the more recent controversy involving James Watson. He elaborated
on his views about some of the basic science phenomena like Einsteins
relativity theory, time travel etc.
the importance of staying objective, keeping the personal bias out
and understanding the national policies. Towards the end of the
lecture, he took questions by the students. He wrapped the lecture
by encouraging the students to take up science writing as a career
and report on the issues in science as well as the issues in the
society that are directly related to science.
journalists should look into life
journalists should look more into life and less into the lab said
Professor Holger Wormer, a German science journalist.
who is the Chair of the Science Journalism Department at the Dortmund
University said that though medicine, biology, technology, astrophysics
etc. were the most widely-covered areas in science journalism today,
there was a need to bring science reporting into facets of everyday
life. This would make science journalism more popular as the layman
would then be able to relate to it, he said.
were widely covered by science journalists, Prof. Wormer said, followed
by major diseases. Science journalism had grown tremendously in
the last two decades, especially after the birth of Dolly, the cloned
sheep, Prof. Wormer said. The cloned sheep had set off a series
of political debates about cloning and stem cell research, he pointed
out, which led to science journalism becoming more popular.
was concerned about stem cell research due to its history of biological
experiments in the Second World War, Prof. Wormer explained.
how the basics of good journalism applied to science journalism
as well, Prof. Wormer said that a balance between the storys
importance and the people factor was crucial. Science journalists
need to verify the information they receive, just as much as regular
journalists have to, he said, adding that in the case of science
journalism it was even more important for them to do so.
He said that
articles must be interesting; flat and boring articles would be
ignored by the readers. The market for science journalists was expanding
in Germany, Prof. Wormer said, adding that science journalism became
more popular as media expanded.
also emphasized the need to stick to ethics in science journalism.
Radio: the quickest way to connect people'
Sep 13-It isnt everyday that we get to listen to music and
watch YouTube videos during our class hours in the auditorium. When
Gaurav Vaz and Shreyas Srinivasan of RadioVerve came to speak to
us, we got to do that and much more.
with the story of how sliced bread came into existence and that
it wasnt bought by anyone for the first 15 years of its existence,
the speakers got us hooked onto the session right from the start.
RadioVerve is an Internet radio station that is the dream of three
men who work in the software sector. The station was started in
June 2006 with barely five listeners for their one-hour shows. Broadcasting
from a basement, today they have an audience of more than 10,000
listeners, round the clock . Indians living abroad can listen to
Indian music under various categories like rock, gospel, Konkani,
metal, folk, classical and easy. Many an artist has received opportunities
to go perform in a foreign country as a result of this.
the vastness of the reach of the Internet, the duo explained how
Internet radio can quickly become widely listened-to.The Internet
is a whole different world and Internet radio is connecting people
more quickly, they said.
Gaurav followed their dreams and stuck to them. They have created
something remarkable and different through their forum for Independent
Indian Music. They have opened doors of opportunities to Indian
musicians who havent necessarily got their due.
you have to the masses and appealing to their needs is what Internet
radio is all about. The immediacy and vastness of the Internet makes
it a tougher and challenging job to bring Radio IIJNM to life. But
we are all looking forward to it because ideas that spread can sure
help us win!
the watchdog tradition: Susan King
In todays era of information overload, it is the job of the
journalist to guide, sort, prioritize, verify and analyze the information
for the reader, said Susan King, Vice President, External Affairs,
Ms. King, who
is Director, Journalism Initiative, Special Initiatives and Strategy
at the Corporation spoke to the students of IIJNM on Digital Democracy
on Monday, August 13.
that more and more young people in America are accessing the internet
for news that they want, in the form they want, Ms. King said that
this has shifted the emphasis from what a journalist says to how
s/he says it.
said the two-time Emmy award-winner, the key words for a journalist
remain Content, Context and Commitment.
Ms. King, who
was anchor and political analyst during her career as a journalist
pointed out that apart from the five Ws and one H, journalists must
also learn the seven Is of Integrity, Independent, International,
Interactive, Individual and Illuminating.
She added that
journalists must continue the watchdog tradition of journalism held
by people like Rachel Carson, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
writing and literary writing follow different styles, said
Eddy L. Harris, addressing the students of the Indian Institute
of Journalism and New Media. My style of writing is flowery,
he said, adding, it is like a poem that flows freely and is
full of emotions. A journalistic piece of writing, he pointed
out, should present plain facts, with objectivity. The story
is more important than your voice or ideas.
is the author of several critically acclaimed books including: Mississippi
Solo, Native Stranger, South of Haunted Dreams, and Still Life in
Harlem. Harris said that he would never like to write for a newspaper
because the writing style is very structured and limits the freedom
of the writer, whereas his writing is more spontaneous and poetic.
He did, however, recognize newspapers as one of the most important
sources of information. He lives in France, and reads the International
Herald Tribune. His all time favourite magazine is the Time magazine.
the whole world was governed by the profit motive, including the
media, Harris however, said that journalists should try to strike
a balance between freedom and responsibility.
Almost all his
writing is in the form of a memoir, an adventure tale, and a travelogue,
inspired by the journeys undertaken by him. Another important aspect
of his writing is the questioning of his black and American identity.
journey down the Mississippi River and how it helped him as a writer,
he said that he has spent years trying to resolve the identity crisis-to
figure out what makes me black and what makes me American.
This is what made him take the long journey down the Mississippi
River, chronicled in his book Mississippi Solo. This journey, he
said, made him understand that, I cannot buy the colonisers
view of me. I will buy only what I am or who I am.
is prevalent in every sphere and every community, says Harris,
who has, in his writing, has tried to capture and bring forth the
experience of being black in different settings.
to prosecute eight under IPC
Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde said that proceedings would begin
next week against elected representatives who had not declared their
assets and liabilities under the Lokayukta Act.
said that though the deadline of June 2006 had long gone past, these
eight members had still not submitted the statement. He said that
proceedings would begin under the Indian Penal Code, where non-declaration
of assets and liabilities by a public servant was a punishable offence.
was speaking to the students of the Indian Institute of Journalism
and New Media (IIJNM) here this morning.
said that he was trying to make the Lokayukta more proactive. He
has proposed amendments to the Lokayukta Act by which the Lokayukta
would get suo motto powers. "It's a psychological war between
the government and Lokayukta. They are nervous that the Lokayukta
will conduct a raid at any time," he said.
said that anti-corruption was only one facet of the Lokayukta's
responsibilities, although it was the most publicised. He said that
the Lokayukta could and did make a huge impact on redressal of grievances
that went unaddressed, maladministration and administrative hindrances,
but since these were individual cases, they went unnoticed in the
media. He said the Lokayukta was an institution formed to oversee
At the interactive
seminar on The Lokayukta and the Media, he said that courts were
overburdened, with 3.36 crore cases pending. Since people were now
more aware of their rights, they had become more litigious. There
were 1,80,000 cases that came before the Supreme Court alone, in
the past year, while between 1950 and 1960, there were only 8000
cases. He spoke in favour of an alternative dispute resolution system,
which has worked successfully in other countries.
He said that judgements in courts were made by parameters laid down
by law and not perceptions or personalities. He came down heavily
on SMS polls regarding cases that were pending or under trial, conducted
by the news media. He said that these were done without consideration
of evidence or the due process of the law.
poll in the judicial system is dangerous since it interferes with
the process of justice delivery," he said. He added that writing
about a trial or a pending case influenced the mind of the judge
and amounted to contempt of court, but no action could be taken
because of the personalities involved.
He asked the
media to show responsibility, accountability and positive thinking
since it played an important role in moulding public opinion, and
hoped that loose journalism would become a thing of the past. He
said that the collective voice of the public could be heard only
if people showed more initiative and interest.
started out as fun and a means to connect with music lovers in India
slowly grew into Indias first Internet radio station. This
is Radio Verve, (formerly known as Infinity Radio), which was started
by Kaustabh Srikanth in late 2003 to help independent musicians
across the country promote themselves. Gaurav Vaz and Shreyas
Srinivasan who joined in 2005, form Radio Verves core
In an age, where
recording labels charge a fortune to cut an album, Radio Verve provides
an opportunity to any artist or group who has difficulty in broadcasting
their music. The station plays music that is original and by people
who have no affiliations to any record label.
radio stations differ from radio stations as the broadcast service
is transmitted through the World Wide Web than through wireless
means. Internet radio stations also dont have to deal with
bandwidth restrictions. Drawing on the limitless possibility of
the World Wide Web, Kaustabh, Gaurav and Shreyas, who are IT professionals,
came up with their independent Internet radio station so that talented
musicians across India can come together and share music not restricted
to a niche audience or a geographical area.
also has a number of one-hour shows that run through the day, so
that there is something to listen to all the time. A user who wants
to listen to Verves programmes can go to the site (www.radioverve.in)
and click on the link provided to stream the content directly. Radio
Verve is also built on free and open source software, and has a
permanent loop allowing music lovers to listen to their favourite
numbers all day. With compositions of more than 70 bands across
India, Radio Verve is running on the money that the three promoters
pool in, besides sponsorship from friends who believe in their cause.
trio doesnt plan to stop here. Their plans for the future
include interviews with bands, special features ranging from death
metal to hip hop and even story telling for children.
TV Reporting through the eyes of a professional
todays competitive environment, content and objectivity in
news is important, said Nidhi Mahesh, Principal Correspondent,
Times Now. Ms. Mahesh said that news should be like a full course
meal that should be appetizing, nutritious and filling. She was
speaking to IIJNM students about daily reporting in 24 X 7 news
In order to
ensure that there was something for each hour on the channel that
could keep the audience glued, Ms. Mahesh pointed out that the channel
must explore all angels of news to provide a comprehensive picture.
She emphasized that it is important for 24X7 news channels to pay
attention to events happening in the area, routine developments
of any issue, human interest stories, popular interests and to take
up issues/campaigns. Its very important to keep stories
alive and updated, she said.
Ms. Mahesh has
worked with Doordarshan and ETV before joining Times Now. Sharing
her experiences, she said that since television is an audio-visual
medium, its important to think visually. She reports live
a lot of times and she emphasized that it is important to know why
you are going live, what the viewer wants to see, how long can the
story last and how much you can cover. She added that its
important for journalists to do background research for a story
and work in tandem with their camerapersons.
She gave some
tips for budding journalists, telling them to plan their days in
advance. She also said that timeliness is very important in this
field. She added that all journalists should be aware of the events
and happenings in and around their area.
policy wont influence US voters: Kurtz
30: The Iraq war is not likely to affect the forthcoming Congressional
elections in the according to Karl Kurtz, Director of the
National Conference of Legislatures in Washington DC. "Most
Americans agree that the Iraq war was a mistake, but there is very
little consensus on the solution," said Dr Kurtz in an address
to students at the IIJNM. The political pundit who heads the body
that researches and gives inputs for all two houses of Congress
and legislatures of the states explained that elections in the United
States were fought on local issues like education and not foreign
policy. This was one reason why despite the growing disappointment
among Americans at the way the war turned out, George Bush was re-elected
Mr. Kurtz whose
thurst of the speech was on cynicism and its effects on elected
governments, said that although Americas political system
was based on scepticism and debate, cynicism was demoralising. He
said that excessive focus by the media on conflict and disagreement
increased cynicism among the people. He said that many journalists
and reporters in the United States did not understand the process
of governance. He pointed out that in American, just like in India,
there was a disconnect between elections and governing. He said
that it was important to be aware of who was in power to improve
accountability among the political figures
Media is the future
is a calling it is neither a profession nor a job said Jeff
Gralnick, former CBS, ABC and NBC producer addressing students
on October 18. A journalist is known and is remembered by what he
actuates, truth lives and lives not to be chased but to be chosen
for the common good.said the veteran journalist who now lectures
at the Columbia School of Journalism. Faced with an ethics question
from the floor "Will you shoot (film) a man dying or save him,"
the man who has covered the Vietnam war remarked with authority:
"Shoot him to save him." His explanation was that depiction
of truth should have an effect on society by prompting the offer
of help and preventing a recurrence.
He cited instances
of how the media has played a role in moulding the public mind and
espoused the cause of New Media which he said was all set to make
a difference, He predicted New Media was on the verge of taking
over the media world for two reasons: Internet's rapid rate of growth
and its ability to provide ulimited amount of information in quick
time. With the advent of blogs and the spread of wireless connectivity
the dependence on the New Media is unshakeable, said Prof.Gralnick
who serves as Special Consultant on Internet and Mew Media technologies
to the NBC News besides heading his own firm Explosion Consulting.
28, 2006: Mustafa Stefan Dill, a web journalist and editor
of newfreemexico.com news website run from Santa Fe, New Mexico,
says a good journalist has to bridge the gap between the newsroom
and the community. And to do that, he told students of IIJNM, that
there should be trust. These days the people dont trust the
media, so a journalist in turn must trust the public, he said,
delivering a guest lecture. The
key ingredients for good journalists, he said, are; responsiveness
to the public, reacting to the public and listening to the public.
He said web journalism works well in this cause, as it is much easier
and more comfortable for the people to read than a newspaper. A
web journalist should see what the public wants and should give
public the space to raise their voice. He said public comments on
a news website draws the attention of the government. He also emphasised
a web journalist should present the news with enough hyperlinks
so that the people get additional information and backgrounders
which distinguish a web report from a newspaper report.
23, 2006: Mr. S. Narendra, former Principal Information Officer
to the Union Government, and the head of the Center for Media Studies
(New Delhi), kicked off his talk to IIJNM students with the question:
Is the government a credible source of information?
Seeing many who had nay for an answer, his counter poser
was: What makes you think the private agencies or corporates
tell only the truth.
his experience of having served four prime ministers as PIO (I K
Gujral, Deve Gowda, Narasimha Rao and A B Vajpayee) and one PM (Chandra
Sekhar) as Director-General DAVP, he told us that throughout his
tenure he had tried his best to be transparent and honest in his
dealings with the media. Questions were raised regarding the importance
of the PIO and its credibility in the current scenario. He accepted
that successive governments have undermined the importance of the
chief source of information for the government and explained that
it was reflective of the larger divide in the ranks of the government.
Mr. Narendra himself moved out from the hot seat of the Union Government's
chief spokesman in 1998 to become Principal Adviser to the Planning
Commission from where he opted to retire in 2000.
The talk was
a peek into the future for journalists-to-be, as he spoke about
the nitty-gritty of the media-government interface. Students found
it interesting to get the views of an insider and he spoke about
the tendency of the media to conduct a trial instead of an investigation
and the responsibility of the media to the people as well as the
functioning of the democracy. Mr. Narendra spoke about instances
like the Ayodhya riots and Charar-e-sharif, when he had to haggle
with the media to refrain from broadcasting news that would escalate
tensions in the country. He admitted that the government did withhold
information in the name of national and public interest,
and said that it was often dictated by political exigencies of the
A wide range
of topics from the Prasar Bharati broadcast bill to the RTI act
was discussed. When asked about ethicality of sting operations,
he said that the media tended to trivialise news. In doing so, it
took away from its own credibility. His anecdotes provided valuable
insights into the ways of the government and made them think about
the ethical aspect of reporting. The seminar raised various questions
that future journalists would have to deal with and gave them a
perspective view of the world of political reporting.
students at IIJNM yet again had the opportunity to learn and interact
with a journalist from the television industry. G. K. Madhav
of 'Times Now', a channel started by The Times of India spoke about
the various technical skills involved in being a television reporter.
Mr. Madhav reviewed the daily bulletins brought out by the students
and discussed how to improve on them. He emphasized that in broadcast
journalism, visuals are the key elements. "Try and
marry the visuals and the script to reach the audience, " he
He also took
the students through a tour of words that form the jargon in television
journalism. He also conducted a scripting exercise where in students
re-worked a news agency report from Reuters. He emphasized the idea
of KISS-'Keep It Simple and Short', when one writes for a news channel.
students continually learn to script news stories, try and make
the story look visually much more appealing, this work shop has
been a insightful experience as the students got to know how it
is done out there in the field.
technology in journalism
2005. All living things have their roots, and so does technology.
Over the years, technology has changed so much that although it
has made work easier it also is man's greatest competitor.
faculty of IIJNM had the opportunity of interacting with Kevin
Burden, Managing Editor, iLearn, BBC who took the listeners
through a journey of changing technology in journalism. He spoke
of the times when cameras were as expensive as buying a house, yet
they were so bulky that it required a special trained cameraman.
Over the years, cameras have evolved to become light and user-friendly
equipment that can perform miracles.
for 16 years, Mr. Burden has worked with print, radio and television
media. IIJNM had the opportunity to view a documentary he made on
Asians displaced from Uganda and rehabilitated in Bristol.
visit was a highly informative one. The students enjoyed talking
to him over lunch, too, and exchanged some cultural trivia.
breaks in foreign lands
2005. Nose for news and experience are not the only criteria that
go in to making an international correspondent. Along with these
qualities come aspects such as effective communication, building
a network of sources and sensitivity to issues.
Bhatia, an international war correspondent, spoke to students
at IIJNM about international reporting. Speaking with 30 years of
experience in the field of journalism, he gave an insight to the
job of an international correspondent. He blended it with his experience
as a war correspondent in several countries such as Egypt, Iran,
speaking from his experience, said that luck plays an important
role in the life of an international correspondent. He also said
that one should be able to expand one's sources in different areas,
so that a probable scoop is never lost.
Shyam Bhatia, media has turned more dramatic and lost its content,
especially in the case of television.
his own experiences in Cairo, Iran and war-torn Afghanistan, Shyam
Bhatia has opened the doors for the student-audience to venture
in to the field of international journalism and have an out-of-the-world
that has almost become a household name, came visiting to IIJNM.
Shahela Sajanlal of the Human Resources department of Google
conducted a short workshop on "How to Ace an Interview."
was part of Google's hiring process and aimed at preparing the students
for their first interviews. The workshop was meant to build their
confidence and give them a perspective on answering frequently asked
questions at interviews.
to return to IIJNM later this academic year for campus recruitment.
Two of our alumni, Anushuka Rathour and Sohna Ravindran, are already
working for Google in Hyderabad.
Concerned for Working Children (CWC) has been working in the area
of children's rights for several years. Director, CWC, Kavita
Ratna, visited IIJNM recently and spoke to the students on the
need for an alternative media, as well as on the question of media
and children's rights.
She spoke of
the impact media reports had on children's lives and said that media
needed to work with a certain amount of sensitivity when it came
to reporting on children.
She also explained
the working of the Bhima Sangha, an organization for and by working
children that runs several children's panchayats in villages. Kavita
showed the students a wall newspaper, Bhima Patrike brought out
by working children. She elaborated on the role played by the newspaper
in networking working children and making them aware of their rights.
Pannikar, an expert on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Meta
Culture spoke to the students of IIJNM. He spoke on the need for
mediation in a modern society and said that in an increasingly complex
world, organizations and communities have to deal with difficult
communication and cultural challenges. These challenges could be
met with Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution he said, adding
that these concepts, while relatively news in India, are becoming
increasingly popular in the West.
presentation introduced students to simple and innovative methodologies
that could help them respond effectively to disputes and conflicts.
Aiyer, the man with a difference
July 29, 2005.
IIJNM saw a man who enthralled its students and faculty with his
lecture on journalism. When he spoke of his experiences, the listeners
were impressed by this young gentleman, who talked about how he
lived as a journalist.
He played a
tape which featured some celebrities whom he had interviewed. They
included Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, former Indian
Prime Minister A.B Vajpayee, former Indian Deputy Prime Minister
L.K.Advani, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and US Defense Secretary
He spoke about
the practical difficulties faced by journalists while working and
enriched the audience's knowledge about the flip side of journalism.
The impact made by television was discussed and all the students
and faculty participated. Everyone felt that TV indeed had a great
impact on the thought process of people.
He added that
a good journalist has some social responsibility and must always
think of the welfare of the society.
He went on to
add how one should report matters on TV by giving out important
details and not stating the obvious. He said that whatever one reports
should have an interesting point of view and should attract the
He is working
as a freelancer. His visit was definitely a memorable experience
when the blogging business had taken effect on our class debates
and spurred many discussions crucial to battle out the "blogging
vs. journalism" see-saw, there arrived Andrew Lih,
the man himself who helped create the new media program at the Columbia
University Graduate School of Journalism from 1995 to 2000, and
who is now the Assistant professor and the Director of technology
at the University of Hong Kong.
On a recent
visit to the IIJNM campus, he left many of us filled with a double
dose of insight on blogging, its benefits and drawbacks, and ways
to have a certain amount of control over it. Starting with what
is termed the "common- based peer production" (CBPP),
he went on to explain what kind of output collaboration with peers
can generate, particularly in the field of journalism, when each
individual brings out the best of his abilities in the aspect he
is best at.Relaying real-life examples that had us all smiling in
our seats, thinking back on our own reporting days, he brought the
entire class closer to his thinking and belief in everyone's potential-
the kind of push every aspiring journalist needs at one point on
their ladder to success.
Among his deep-rooted
discussions were the growing number of collaborative efforts of
citizens on the net, resulting in a site completely controlled by
the general public who want their voices heard in the context of
both reporting and commenting. In order to seize our bafflement
of the clash between blogging and journalism, he would never fail
to assure us with the professionalism and credibility of mainstream
journalism, something blogging, regardless of how much it improved,
can never take away from real journalism. "Do not be threatened
by the takeover of the blog revolution, journalism will always remain
in its rightful stand and will in no way blend in with it,"
was what Andrew had to say. It was a moment of truth and confirmation
of our high hopes in the career we had chosen.
Thanks to Mr.
Lih, we are now able to look ahead without creasing our foreheads
and constantly worrying about our career prospects being overshadowed
by new evolutions. We, in fact, already have our hands full with
the responsiblities of exercising the best of our journalism abilities
and making a difference in a world that "needs" journalism.
challenge the authority of your intellectual inferior. Because intellect
is inversely proportional to the ego of a person", said John
Thomas, Editor Operations at Vijay Times, while addressing the
class of 2004-05 at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New
Media. With this witty statement that both amused and astounded
the aspiring journalists, he proceeded to explain the dark murky
politics, which lurk behind the publishing of any newspaper.
the students in a tongue and cheek fashion that there will be grouchy,
prehistoric specimens of editors, who will be as immovable as the
Rock of Gibraltar, and refuse to budge from their esteemed posts,
giving one almost zilch opportunities to grow and expand professionally
in the near future. "I myself tried my best not to look my
age", he added, poker faced. And then of course, he added that
journalism is a grossly underpaid job, where gender discrimination
is rampant, and the kind of stories one usually ends up doing are
a far cry from what passionate journalism students fresh out of
college aspire for.
He had his audience
giggling in helpless peals of laughter as he continued to make a
caricature of the innumerable problems one would face as a journalist.
Behind all the farce of cynicism and worldly wisdom was sparkling
wit and humour. He was what every journalist aspires to be: brutally
honest, incisive, humorously intelligent, and above all refreshingly
outrageous. His passion for journalism shone through brightly, and
despite his bitingly caustic remarks, apparently trying to downplay
his emotions, he instilled the students with a renewed fervor towards
the profession along with being an eye opener for the future, not
a small task by any means.
Lankesh, the former editor of Kannada weekly, Lankesh Patrike,
discussed the future of Naxalism and her controversial association
with the movement at the IIJNM Campus on Friday April 1.
Though she lamented
the fact that the "Naxal issue" receives little coverage
in India Today, Outolook, or even Tehelka, Lankesh was adamant that
she is neither a member nor a spokesperson for the movement. She
said that while she respected their cause, she could not reconcile
herself to the means used to achieve it. An armed struggle in the
name of the common man was not effective in a nation largely predisposed
to the Gandhian path of non-violent civil disobedience.
In the brief
but wide ranging question and answer session with IIJNM's class
of 2005, Lankesh weighed in on the current state of print journalism:
"The media has become totally over-trivialized-with credit
to The Times of India"; the credibility of television: "To
really do anything in depth, television is not the medium. If they
[television] want to go in depth they have something like "The
Big Fight" but that is just talking heads"; and what her
new magazine is looking for from young reporters: "no corruption,
liberal democrat ideology, and the ability to write and communicate
Anderson Minister Counselor for Public Affairs U.S. Embassy
in New Delhi, and Ravi Candadai Consul for Public Affairs South
Asia U.S. Embassy Chennai addressed the students of IIJNM on Friday
October 1. They spoke on three subjects Indo - U.S. relations, journalism
as a profession and student exchange programs between India and
that India is important in the eyes of the U.S. It is fast becoming
a world power and that ties between India and U.S. had become close
in the recent past. He said that in the past there had been disagreement
between the U.S. and India over nuclear testing, but America was
now trying to reduce restrictions on India and was looking at selling
high-level technology to India.
on the need for journalists to familiarize themselves with official
jargon. He suggested adapting papers like The Minneapolis Star and
St Paul Dispatch. Anderson also spoke about the importance of journalism.
He said it was a calling with less pay. He stressed the role journalism
can play in improving society and in representing the people.
McDuff, information resource officer at the U.S. Embassy in
New Delhi, India visited the IIJNM on April 22 and gave a presentation
to its students on Internet as an information resource for journalists.
An exhaustive list of online resources was brought to the attention
of the students. She also gave a brief introduction to the Internet
and its related terms.
as a consultant for the seven American Information Resource Centers
(AIRCs), also known as American Libraries, in Bangladesh, India,
Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Shelectures widely on the Internet resources
available on a variety of topics including e-government, business,
journalism, NGOs, democracy and American culture.
Dhanraj, an experienced documentary maker from Bangalore spoke
to IIJNM students on 11 February 2004. She shared valuable thoughts
based on her 20 years experience with video documentary production
on development issues. Her recent documentary on state Information
Act gave opportunity to IIJNM students to understand the nuances
of the Act. Along with Deepa delivered lecture on history and evolution
of Information Act in India, from MKSS to contemporary situation.
Dakshinamurthy, website editor for al-Jazeera visited IIJNM
on 23 January 2004. He had a detailed discussion with IIJNM students
on Arab media scenario in general and al-Jazeera in particular.
The first independent mass medium from Arab world, al-Jazeera, was
in trouble during and after the recent Iraq war. "We have broken
the rules on many fronts," Dakshinamurthy said. "al-Jazeera is used
by the public to let out their steam." Since the channel has been
on the air, it has brought many issues to focus, which have helped
in making people's minds broader, he said.
critic Suresh Jayaram visited IIJNM campus on June 11 and
addressed the students on the finer aspects of critiquing art. He
also admitted that art is an elite occupation and that the poor
have no time for it as they are too busy surviving. He spoke about
contemporary Indian artists, their influences, their medium and
about their display subjects.
the HOD of Art History at the The Chitrakala Parishat, Bangalore.
He is a recipient of the Nehru Small Study Grant from the Nehru
Trust and the Victoria & Albert Museum for his M.FA. Research. He
was commissioned by the Asian Women’s Human Rights Council, Manila
and Bangalore to design their Logo and poster for the Beijing Summit
in 1995. He has designed postage stamps for SAHMAT to commemorate
50 years of Independence. He has had many group shows in India and
one in Nepal. His work was included in the “Human Form in Art”,
an exhibition curated by the Lalit Kala Academy, in 1997. He has
reviewed art for the Times of India, Bangalore and has written many
exhibition catalogues. He has also co-edited an anthology of quilts
titled "Star Quilt."
heritage scholar Dr. N.S. Rajaram, made a powerpoint presentation
on the Sindhu civilization on May 9. Dr. N.S. Rajaram is a mathematician,
a linguist and historian of science who has written several books
on ancient India. They include Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization
(with David Frawley, Voice of India) and The Deciphered Indus Script
(with N. Jha, Aditya Prakashan). His columns on history, culture
and current affairs have appeared in publications worldwide. His
most recent book, A Hindu View of the World, examines India and
the world from a pluralistic Hindu viewpoint. He is regarded an
authority on Christianity also having authored a book on the early
history of Christianity called The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Crisis
of Christianity, published in England in 1997. His two other books
on the subject are Christianity's collapsing Empire and Its Designs
in India and Christianity's Scramble for India and the Failure of
the Indian Elite.
scholar Yoginder Singh Sikand addressed the students of IIJNM
on the evolution of Madarasas in India on May 02. Sikand, who has
written a number of books and articles on Islam, spoke about its
many aspects, its traditions and religious practice. His PhD from
Royal Holloway, University of London on Tablighi Jama'at has been
published by Orient Longman. He also edits a webzine, Qalandar,
available online at www.islaminterfaith.org.
Sikand is a Bangalorean who travels extensively in India and abroad
advocating interfaith harmony.
IT journalist of The Hindu, Anand Parthasarathy presented
a Power Point program on IT and New Media at the IIJNM campus on
April 30. In his presentation, he emphasized that IT programs should
be people friendly. He remarked sadly that the silicon city, Bangalore
is lagging behind in bridging the digital divide where as other
cities of the country are catching up fast on IT services for the
common people. Speaking about the convergence technology, he said
that the dividing line between print, television and the Internet
has disappeared and that today's journalist must leverage the advantages
provided by convergence technology and be totally equipped in working
with multi media. "Today's journalist should not expect a separate
team of photographers and cameramen to go along with him to cover
his assignments, but he should be willing to do all of these if
the need arises." he said.
his B.E. from the University of Pune and did his Masters from Birmingham
University, UK in 1975. He has worked on parallel computing systems
development and served as a Systems Manager for Surface-Air Missile
on the Indian Missile Program in Hyderabad. He has written a number
of articles on E-commerce, Convergence technologies and on the Internet.
He is currently based in Bangalore.
O’ Regan, senior producer and writer of Granada Television/NY
Times, visited IIJNM on Thursday, April 17. He is currently working
on a project for the Discovery channel on south-Indian weddings.
Addressing the IIJNM students, Regan remarked that the quality of
writing in the Indian newspapers is appalling. He said that the
newspapers resorted to cheap word play and that there was a sense
of artificial enthusiasm in covering events. He advocated for a
more transparent journalism, which speaks to the reader instead
of calling attention to the writer, who thinks that he/she is smarter
than the audience. Regan, who also teaches Tools for Television
at Columbia University, New York spoke about how the broadcast industry
has changed since the last few years, especially in terms of technology
and noted that nowadays it was far easier to control 'your journalistic
destiny' than it used to be before.
Makaram, one of the few women photojournalists in the city visited
IIJNM on Friday, March 28. A woman of few words, she let her pictures
speak and showed some of her work to the students. She also enlightened
the students of the professional hazards of photojournalism while
covering communal riots and fire accidents, which can be quite dangerous
if you are not cautious. But, "you have to learn how to get around
the problems" she also told the students the difference between
war, travel, sports, and feature photography. Poornima was earlier
with The New Indian Express, but currently she works for the Deccan
Herald as a photojournalist.
Paul, a New York-based multimedia freelance journalist with
more than a decade of experience visited the IIJNM campus on Saturday,
March 22. Smita shared her experience as a freelance Journalist
and Instructor at the Columbia University New York, with the IIJNM
faculty and students. Smita started her career as a newspaper journalist
in Cincinnati. She found her way to New York City by way of Phoenix,
Memphis, and New Delhi. In 1995, she attended the Columbia University
Graduate School for Journalism and graduated with a master's degree
in broadcast and New Media journalism. She received her undergraduate
degree from Northeastern University. She has worked as a freelancer,
employing all of her multimedia skills. Her work includes digital
video documentaries for The Discovery Channel and the New York Times
television company; radio reports for National Public Radio; and
magazine articles for Civilization, Hemispheres and the Asian Wall
Street Journal. Her online work includes several expedition stories
with the Discovery Channel online.
Fernandes of Vimochana, a women's organization in Bangalore,
addressed the students of IIJNM on Friday, October 31, 2003. Fernandes
touched upon a wide range of women's issues in India, including
female infanticide, female feticide, sexual abuse and the evils
of dowry. This is Fernandes's second visit to IIJNM.
During her first
visit, Donna spoke about the feminist movement in India on Wednesday
March 19, 2003. She noted how the patriarchal system in India continues
to exploit women in the form of dowry and female infanticide. She
said that the problem of such social evils cannot be eradicated
only by a few NGOs, but both men and women in general should come
forward to solve the problem. She also believed that there are plenty
of loopholes in the existing legal framework and that many of the
laws need to be updated and amended. Quoting the example of the
Mathura rape case, she mentioned how a women's organization was
successful in securing justice to a victim of rape, who otherwise
was accused of being characterless and therefore did not deserve
Ganapathy of FM Radiocity, Banaglore visited IIJNM on Saturday,
22 March to give a talk about radio journalism. Very popular among
the students, who were quite familiar with her Lingo Leela and Sister
Stella acts on the radio, Priya spoke about the invisible medium
of radio. She said that radio journalists should have a talent with
their voice because it was a medium that depended mostly on sound.
She spoke about the various segments in radiocity and how popular
it had become in such a short period of time. She also compared
how radio journalism had changed over the years and how light and
people- friendly it had become of late. Radio journalism where she
worked, was more of a media entertainment business than about hardcore
journalism, she added that people tuned to radio city not for news
but in order to connect with other music lovers in the city.
Rahman Kamruddin, a former advisor to UNESCO, UNIDO and IDB
visited IIJNM on Wednesday, March 5, along with the Director of
Al-Ameen Management College to give a talk about Islam after 9/11.
Kamruddin spoke about the growing misrepresentation of Islam in
the media and proceeded to give a quick introduction to the basic
tenets of Islam. Kamruddin, who is also well versed in Vedic literature
interspersed his speech with Sanskrit quotations and comparisons
with Indian philosophy. At the end of the lecture, there was an
intensive interactive session with the faculty and the students
who bombarded the visitors with questions related to women in Islam
and Islamic fundamentalism to which both the guests Kamruddin and
Ataulla, responded patiently and diplomatically.
journalist and author Sauvik Chakraverti gave an economics
workshop for all IIJNM students on Wednesday Nov 5 and Thursday
Nov. 6. Internationally renowned economist Sauvik Chakraborti's
two-day campus workshop got the IIJNM students thinking about his
revolutionary ideas, including one that portrayed democracy as being
"hazardous" to one's health.
who now writes for the Economic Times of India, is a winner of the
Frédéric Bastiat Prize for Journalism, an award given by the International
Policy Network of London to journalists who through their writing
support institutions of a free society. Chakraverti writes about
free market economics and free trade. He is the author of Antidote
- Essays Against The Socialist Indian State, published by Macmillan
India Ltd. in 2000. He studied at the London School of Economics
and Political Science and has long been a freelance writer for Indian
publications. He is currently on the editorial team of The Economic
Times, and writes a fortnightly column called Antidote.
In his earlier
visit to IIJNM, Sauvik Chakraverti gave a lecture on "Why democracy
may be bad for you" on Friday, 28th February 2003. He spoke about
a society based on free market, which was an eye opener to many
of the non initiated audience members of economics. "Is being able
to vote better than freedom? What is the point in having political
freedom but no economic freedom? and "why is it that our text books
don't teach about political failures but only talk about market
failures? he said questioning democracy as practiced in the country.
He gave examples of societies based on free market like Geneva and
Hong kong and asked rhetorically why we are afraid to choose prosperity
and continue to advocate a system that continues to encourage poverty?
Currently he is the Editorial Director of a libertarian organization
for Civil Society.
Asha Kiran, a doctor of homeopathy working in Australia, during
a brief visit to Bangalore, spared some time off her busy schedule
to speak to the students. She was speaking on the topic of health
and culture and the link between the two concepts. She said that
culture affects health and thus by effecting changes in the culture
of a nation, its health can be influenced to a very large extent.
Public health systems in India have failed, she said because the
country has done very little to deal with its own health issues.
The mistake has been that we have focussed too much on 'disease'
rather than on 'health' itself, while these two concepts are distinct
and should be dealt with differently.
new semester at IIJNM commenced with an address by the New York
based journalist Jeremy Caplan. Caplan, who has worked on
staff of such reputed publications as Newsweek, Yahoo Internet Life,
and The Paris Review, spoke on the "Trends in American Journalism."
Caplan vehemently argued the steady degeneration of magazines in
America - how they have fallen prey to pop culture, and how they
have essentially become an advertising vehicle. A technology and
Internet writer, he also shed some light on the need for a journalist
to package himself well in today's times.
consultant and author Madanmohan Rao visited the IIJNM campus
on Tuesday, December 24. Rao gave an audio visual presentation on
the challenges and opportunities in wirelss content. He spoke about
the 8 Cs of the Digital economy: Connectivity, content, community,
commerce, capacity(human resource), culture, cooperation and capital.
He remarked how Asia was ahead of the European market in the wireless
revolution that is changing the way we think and behave in the world
today. He said that there was one billion cell phone users and this
was the fastest growing media in the world today. He spoke about
the opportunities that was available because of this growing market,
both in the areas of content as well as in the hardware market.
At the same time he cautioned to tread carefully as there were certain
ethical issues that still needed to be ironed out in this new field.
Rao is an Internet consultant and writer based in Bangalore, India.
He is the co-author of the handbook "The Internet Economy of India,
2001." Madan was formerly the communications director at the United
Nations Inter Press Service bureau in New York, and vice president
at IndiaWorld Communications in Bombay. He graduated from the Indian
Institute of Technology at Bombay and the University of Massachusetts
at Amherst, with an M.S. in computer science and a Ph.D. in communications.
Madan is a
frequent speaker on the international conference circuit, and has
given talks and lectures on Internet-related issues in about 40
countries. He has worked with online services in the U.S., Brazil,
and India. He is on the board of editors of the magazines Electronic
Markets (www.electronicmarkets.org - published from Switzerland)
and On The Internet (published by the Internet Society in the U.S.).
His articles have appeared in New Asia Review, Asia Internet Business,
Economic Times, Business Standard, Economic and Political Weekly,
IndiaInfoline, ValueNotes, TechMail, LAN Magazine, Express Computer,
Thailand’s Bangkok Post, New York-based Editor&Publisher magazine's
MediaInfo site, and Malaysia-based Skali (the Altavista mirror site
in Asia); some of his writing has also been translated into Spanish
Pradeep Nair, the chief copy editor of The Times of India, Bangalore,
visited the campus on Friday, November 22. Addressing the students
on the topic of copy editing, he said that copy editing is more
of a precis writing exercise than about knocking off sentences and
the process of editing, he discussed the fine points of selection
& rejection of stories, prioritization of news based on contextual
importance, and the aspects involved in design and layout. He also
commented on how the newsroom had transformed itself over the years.
the faxes, the telex are of the bygone era. News today is recieved
via the E-mail. The technological transformation has made the copy
editor more independent than before. It has got rid of the harrowing
experience of pleading with the cut & paste pagemakers, who had
little knowledge about journalism, to make any last minute changes."
Mr. Nair said.
is a political and not a religious phenonmenon' said Dr. Ali
Asghar Engineer during his visit to the IIJNM campus on Tuesday,
In his lecture
to the students on communalism in India, he reiterated the importance
of the role played by the media in imparting the correct information
to the public. He said that contrary to the general perception,
communalism has its roots in the middle class India and not in the
poor masses. He substantiated this theory by citing well-researched
and interesting examples from Indian history.
that, prior to the British political strategy of divide and rule,
India was well integrated and the hindus and the muslims had no
problem living together. He cited the example of the first war of
Indian independence (1857) when the hindus and the muslims came
together to fight their common enemy, the British. "It was very
tragic that they did not think on the same lines when Jinnah demanded
a separate nation for the muslims," he said. He also believes that
the partition of India would never have happenned had there been
an adult fanchise in India then.
is a human rights activist and heads the two organisations, Institute
of Islamic Studies and Centre for Study of Society and Secularism.
He has authored/edited 44 books on such issues as Islam and communal
and ethnic problems in India and South Asia in general.
Naazreen Bhura, the Resident Editor of Asian Age, Bangalore
visited the campus on Friday, October 18.
Ms Bhura engaged
the class with a variety of topics including trends in journalism,
Page 3 Journalism and the trivialization of news. She feels that
trivialization of news consists in the treatment of news and that
there is no such thing as trivial news. She believes that there
is nothing wrong in carrying front-page stories on celebrities on
lean news days.
Ms Bhura said
she was very pleased to be working for a news paper like Asian Age
which carries alternative news stories on the front-page when most
other Indian news papers relegate such stories to small items in
the inside pages. Here she gave the example of a young blind boy
with exceptional skills such as telling time without looking at
a watch. She is extremely critical of cynical reporters who see
nothing interesting in life to report and write about.
Martin, the chief reporter of New Indian Express, Bangalore
briefed the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM) students
about the intricacies of environmental reporting and specifically
the coverage of World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
Max discussed issues as wide ranging as the Stockholm conference,
the Rio summit, and the Conference of Parties meetings in context
of the WSSD.
In his frank
opinion, Max said that he was disappointed by the WSSD as pro-trade
lobbies hijacked the sustainable development agenda. Max was also
disappointed with the cynical approach of the Indian Government
to the WSSD.
Helen LaFave, Deputy Public Affairs Officer from the US Consulate
in Chennai visited the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media
on August 22.
Sagar took her around the campus and gave a presentation on the
activities of IIJNM.
During an hour-long
interaction with the faculty members, Ms LaFave spoke about her
own experience with the press as a diplomat in India.
Ms LaFave also
had a brief interactive session with the students. Most student
queries were related to higher education in the United States. Responding
to the students’ questions, she stated that contrary to popular
belief, the number of students going to study in the US had increased
post-September 11. She also maintained that increased surveillance
of foreign students in the US would not infringe upon their civil
by IIJNM, and sharing her enthusiasm for a vibrant and independent
media culture she said in a parting note, "I think you have a fabulous
idea and vision and hope we can work to fulfill it".
K. N. Harikumar, former editor of the Deccan Herald visited
IIJNM on Friday, May 3, 2002.
to students' question "why Deccan Herald is steering away from controversial
issues and not taking risks to expose scams", Mr. Hari Kumar replied
"Gundu Rao wouldn’t be mad at us and Ramakrishna Hegde wouldn’t
want to burn down DH if we had stayed away from controversial issues.
DH may not have done many investigations, but it has been adventurous
in many other ways. We have fought Kannada chauvinism, for instance.
The most important thing for a newspaper is to have a strongly independent
and secular stance and I think we have done it."
Mr. Hari Kumar
is now the Managing Director of Kaveri Communications which recently
launched e-tapaal, the multi-lingual, multi-feature e-mail service
K. Madhusoodan, the chief reporter of Tech Mail, visited the
IIJNM campus on Monday, April 15, 2002. Addressing the students
on the techniques of reporting, Mr. Madhusoodan gave them a '100
metres' reporters mantra.
this mantra, he said that there was a story within every 100 meters.
"The distance of 100 meters refers not to the actual distance but
to the length and breadth of your thinking" he said.
and asking questions is the foremost requirement for a successful
journalist," he told the students. He advised the students to see
things in a historical perspective and asked the students to think
beyond the 'press conference' mentality.
M. K. Madhusoodan
has worked for the Indian Express, India Abroad News Service, and
taught Journalism in the Mysore University.
Murali Krishna, business editor of India West, shared his many
years of journalism expertise with the students of IIJNM on Friday,
April 12, 2002.
the techniques of page layout with the students. Comparing the page
layout of a few international publications with that of the Indian
publications, he offered suggestions on how to improve the IIJNM
Bala also gave
them tips on reporting and writing. While critiquing the student
publications, he told the students to write more in-depth articles,
and suggested that they prepare and submit to the faculty a brief
outline of their stories before actually going on their beat reporting.
the students to take criticism in a positive way. He said that even
the most seasoned writers have experienced the sharp edges of the
editors’ knife sometime or the other in their journalism career.
for a few years in a daily in Hyderabad and then at the Deccan Herald
in Bangalore, Bala worked as a reporter at India Abroad in New York,
as business editor at India West in San Francisco and a reporter
at Silicon India in California’s Silicon Valley. He also helped
set up SiliconIndia.com. He is currently heading India-West’s Bangalore
Superintendent of Police Srikanta Kunigal visited the IIJNM
campus and delivered a lecture on Cyber Law on Saturday, April 6,
2002. According to the Dy. S.P., it appears that the Silicon Valley
of India is all set to nab cyber offenders by making the law keep
up with changing technology.
In a proposal
to the government of India, the cyber police of Bangalore have asked
all the Internet users in the cyber cafes to carry photo identities
on them. Further, in an attempt to keep the judiciary informed about
new technology, they were conducting many training programs in Law
schools across the city and state.
Dy. S.P. Kunigal
is very popular with both officals and journalists. He was recently
awarded the Chief Minister's Medal, the second time for his innovative
role and valuable contribution to the department of Police.
C.K.N. Raja enthralled the audience of students and faculty
with a lecture on Indian Constitution and Limits to the Freedom
of Press on Monday, March 25, 2002.
has over 44 years of teaching experience and is the first person
to have a doctorate degree in Constitution law. He is the former
Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Mysore,
and his specialization is international law. Following his retirement,
he now speaks at the best institutions across the country. He has
to his credit, five books published on Law, over 250 articles and
two novels in Kannada.
J. Mendonca the editor of Bangalore Times, a supplement of Times
of India, had the entire class spellbound with his human-interest
stories. Reaching out to people through his stories is what Mendonca
does best. And that is precisely what he did when he visited the
IIJNM campus on Saturday March 23, 2002.
the lack of a world-class newspaper in the country he remarked that
the ‘journalism of courage had given way to a journalism of consensus.
He further added that "although there are some world -class writers
in the country, there are very few world-class journalists”.
that the need of the hour is to write stories that would act as
‘catalyst of change in the society’. He urged the students to write
with passion and fire in their belly and not to go after ‘bylines
H G Balakrishna, Former Judge, High Court of Karnataka
the efficacy of press, the greater the strength of democracy” said
Justice H.G. Balakrishna while speaking on “Press laws relating
to Defamation and Libel” at the IIJNM campus on Saturday, March
the declining standards of journalism, Justice Balakrishna expressed
sadly that the state of reporting in the country was "not up to
my expectation”. Noting the similarity between the professions of
Journalism and that of Law in its pursuit of truth, he advised the
students to practice “Clarity of thought, Brevity of expression
and Lucidity of exposition”, which were the three guiding principles
that aided in achieving truth.
had the students up to their ears with information related to defamation
and libel. The students in turn overwhelmed the Justice with tons
of questions related to press laws and practice. Author of “New
Dimensions of Law and Justice”, a book prescribed as reference material
for all law colleges in India, Justice Balakrishna has a great passion
for teaching and this is his second address to the students of IIJNM.
Yadav, Software Analyst, Inertia Technologies Inc.,
It was a session
of technology on fast track for the new media students of IIJNM
when Harish Yadav of Inertia Technologies Inc., addressed the class
got a preview on what advanced technology could do to enhance web
pages. They understood new concepts of media from a technological
standpoint. They particularly enjoyed the little magic tricks that
Binny, the all-round cricketer of yester-years, was at IIJNM
on 19 November 2001. He played a major role in India's victorious
World Cup campaign in 1983. He later became the coach of the Under-19
team, and under his direction India won the World Cup in Sri Lanka
in 2000. Besides being in-charge of the various junior teams, Binny
has now been appointed by the International Cricket Council (ICC)
as a Development Officer for popularising cricket in non-cricketing
Binny was not
very forthcoming in criticising the present cricket team or the
administration for the lackadaisical performances of the national
team. He admitted there had been some faults in administration but
he did not dwell much on them saying administration was not a very
easy job. He also remarked that he felt honoured to represent the
Anglo-Indian community in the Karnataka legislature.
Padukone, the 1980 All England Badminton Champion, visited IIJNM
on the 20 November 2001. His achievement brought about great interest
in the sport in India. The shuttler explained how the system worked
in India that no badminton player reaches international standards.
He stressed on how the three Ds---Determination, Dedication and
Discipline were essential if a player wanted to succeed and this
had to be imparted early to a student of the game.
Narendra Pani, novelist and Senior Editor, Economic Times
delivered a couple of lectures on Business Journalism on 6 and 7
He also shared
with the students his experience of covering the World Trade Organisation(WTO)
meeting at Seattle, Washington.
John Tulloch, the chairman of the Department of Journalism and
Mass Communication at the School of Communication, Design & Media,
University of Westminster, Harrow, delivered a public lecture on
'Tabloid Tales - Trends in the British Tabloid Press' in Bangalore
city on 12 July 2001. IIJNM had jointly organised the lecture with
the British Library, Bangalore. Prof. Tulloch, who was on his annual
visit to India to pick scholars for the Chevening Young Indian Journalists
Programme, also visited IIJNM campus on 13 July. He had this to
say about his visit to the campus: "A striking piece of modern architecture
and an educational enterprise of great promise and vision".
N. L. Mitra, former director of National Law School of India
Unviersity, visited IIJNM on 4 June 2001. He spent time with the
faculty and students and felt that IIJNM was "an excellent enterprise
hero at IIJNM
Aniruddha Bahal of tehelka.com, the prime investigator in the
armsgate expose that shook the nation, visited IIJNM on 12 May 2001
evening. Earlier in the day he held a workshop on Investigative
Journalism, organised by IIJNM for the media community in Bangalore.
Mr Bahal had this to say about IIJNM:
"Well, you guys certainly have the potential to become India's
premier insitute of journalism. Wishing you all the best."
Reports on the workshop
Information Director visits IIJNM
Dr D V Guruprasad, Director, Department of Information, Government
of Karnataka visited the Indian Institute of Journalism and New
Media on May 5. Dr Guruprasad appreciated the facilities offered
by the institute. He said he was impressed with both "physical
infrastructure and intellectually stimulating academic program"
of the institute. Dr Guruprasad had a detailed interaction with
faculty members and students.
P B Sawant at the institute
Council of India has suggested to the Union Government that electronic
media should also be brought under its jurisdiction.
Addressing students and faculty members of the IIJNM, on 26 April
2001, Chairman of the Press Council of India and World Association
of Press Councils, Justice P B Sawant said during his recent meeting
with the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sushma
Swaraj, he had told her that it would not be wise to have a separate
council for the electronic media.
also argued that the Press Council should have powers to punish
those who do not comply with the orders issued by it. "Without
such power, the council is a toothless organization," he said.
Besides delving on the gray area of media ethics, Justice Sawant
also explained the structure of Press Council of India and it’s
The following is his entry in the IIJNM visitor’s book: "I
must express my gratitude to this institution for giving me an opportunity
to visit it and know its working. I was happy particularly to meet
its great benefactor Swami Balagangadharanath who was so kind to
spare time to remain here just to meet me. I wish the institution
workshop on 19 April 2001
Raghunandhan, well-known theatre director(formerly with National
School of Drama, New Delhi and Rangayana, Mysore) conducting a theatre
workshop for the students.
Parliamentary Delegation visits IIJNM
An eight-member German Parliamentary delegation on Media and Culture,
led by Ms Monika Griefahn visited IIJNM on 25 April 2001.
R Devdas, senior advisor and the faculty members took the delegation
around the institute.
Prof. Sugata Srinivasaraju briefed the delegation about the activities
of the institute. The delegation members interacted with the faculty
members and students for over an hour.
keen interest in the curriculum developed by the the institute,
its online library project, new media laboratory and state-of-the
art computer network. They were especially interested in ethical
issues faced by Indian journalists and how the institute was training
its students to confront them.
Other members of the delegation were: Ms Margarete Spate, Mr Eckardt
Barthel, Mr Horst Kubatschka, Dr Norbert Lammert, Dr Antje Vollmer,
Mr Hans-Joachim Otto, and Mr Christopher Speer.
The German Consul General in Chennai, Mr Ulf Hanel also accompanied
Later in the day, Prof. Sugata participated in a round-table conference,
attended by the Parliamentary delegation and Bangalore’s cultural
personalities, at the Max Mueller Bhavan and presented his notes
on culture, media and post-modernity.
T Z Mani, chief commissioner of income-tax(Karnataka and Goa),
visited IIJNM and engaged our students for nearly four hours on
31 March, 2001.
During the first couple of hours he spoke about the functioning
of his department and the principles of taxation in India. The rest
of his time, he lectured and demonstrated on the tabla, the unity
of rhythm and time and their relevance for a writer/journalist.
Students and the faculty enjoyed participating in the session.
This is what he wrote about his visit: "It is a great joy to
see a great institution taking shape amidst the pristine beauty
of nature. Along with knowledge, may the students imbibe the value
of freedom - the freedom of the winds that surround their life here.
Thanks for the opportunity to be here with the first batch of future
makers of public opinion in India."
top-ranking US Embassy officials visit IIJNM on 16th March, 2001.
Here’s what they had to say:
a creative place! Best of luck. I will be back. We look forward
to working with you."
James J Callahan
Counselor for Public Affairs, Embassy of the United States of America,
an honor to be introduced to such a promising center for journalism
education at its inception. I think the success of IIJNM is guaranteed."
Consul for Public Affairs, US Consulate General, Chennai.
Renowned scholar and writer Mr Jeremy Seabrook,
in a letter from London recalls his visit to IIJNM on March 10,
Institute is so beautiful, and I’m sure the content and the
substance will be every bit as memorable and significant as the
wonderful material fabric of the building.
It is a wonderful
place and my heart and spirit are with you, as you turn it into
a powerhouse of journalistic integrity and competence in order to
combat the destructive and cynical opportunism of what passes for
journalism in the world today. I think this is a truly noble project..."
2001, IIJNM played host to Jeremy Seabrook, renowned British
Reproduced below is the introductory speech by Prof. Sugata Srinivasaraju
at a meeting hosted by Central Sahitya Akademi(National Academy
of Letters, New Delhi) and IIJNM. Mr. Seabrook also visited our
campus and spoke to our students.
first met Mr. Jeremy Seabrook in London in early 2000. I was there
on a fellowship at the University of Westminster. The initial days
at the university in Harrow were frustrating, because I was experiencing
a struggle to get my ideas across. It was not because I lacked communication
skills or my English language abilities were inadequate. But, it
was mostly because I was trying to represent a fairly uncommon or
even an unpopular world view.
I was trying very hard to elevate what was condemned as local thinking
systems beyond the pejorative label of provincialism. I was trying
to contrast, to give an immediate example, a writer like Girish
Karnad with a writer like P Lankesh.
In the process, I was trying to construct a critique of a certain
pan-Indian, pan-world or, in larger terms, a cosmopolitan world
view, which dominated the thinking process, both at the university
and in London’s intellectual circles.
The fact that I was not getting my ideas across was a very frustrating
experience. To cite from the life of one of my favorite cultural
theorists, Raymond Williams, I experienced a similar feeling that
Williams experienced when he moved from the peripheries of English
culture, the Welsh border country, to a place like Cambridge, which
was at the very center of a dominant cultural system. I too had
moved from a middle-class Kannada household to the heart of a cosmopolitan
culture. It is at this crucial juncture that I met my teacher, Jeremy
Seabrook, at Muswell Hill.
I shared the stories of my local culture, its anxieties and the
self-effacing endeavour of people like my father to keep it alive
and vibrant. To my good fortune and surprise he was more than sympathetic.
He perfectly well understood the context of my stories and helped
me raise crucial questions that would strengthen my arguments against
the methods of cosmopolitan intellectualism.
After we started
having a regular dialogue, I should say, although there is a fear
of sounding pompous, we won many battles even at institutions like
London School of Economics and the Trinity College in Dublin.
It is only a little later that I realized, after I had read his
essay, the ‘English Exile’ (published in Granta’s
volume on Britain’s Valedictory Realism) and the second part
of his book Colonies of the Heart, as to how he had so readily recognized
my intellectual condition. He too, like Raymond Williams, had moved
from the small tanning town of Northampton to Cambridge. I suppose
this brief background precisely explains as to why Mr. Jeremy Seabrook
is so eminently qualified to share the platform of the Sahitya Akademi,
which represents India’s local literatures.
Jeremy Seabrook is an author of more than 30 books in English. He
has written plays for stage, radio, and television and also directed
television documentaries. Besides this he has been a columnist and
contributor to many international publications, including the Guardian.
From December last he has also been writing a column for the Sunday
Statesman in Calcutta.
In his writings he has mostly concentrated on "uncelebrated
struggles against injustice and insufficiency" and the "sacrifice
and altruism of popular movements." The Guardian has
described him as "one of England’s most imaginative and
creative writers reminiscent of George Orwell."
Robert J Zydenbos, Professor of Indology at the University of
Dr. Zydenbos is a great friend of India. When he speaks on India,
he has the 16 years he stayed here to back him up.
He is a keen student of Indian culture and languages. The Professor
is especially conversant with Kannada language and literature.
Speaking to the students of IIJNM on the 6th of March, 2001, Dr.
Zydenbos spoke about how an average Indian saw a European and vice
versa. He felt that Indians still clung to the Anglo-Saxon view
- Europe meant the UK. The average Indian saw Europe as one entity
and did not seem to realise there were so many different facets
He felt that the average European also considered India as one single
culture entity. He said that the earlier understanding of India
as a land of superstitious, illiterate and unreliable people has
fielded questions shot to him by the students with aplomb.
Rajghatta, Washington Correspondent of Indian Express was at
Here is Chitra Bonam’s(student) report on Rajghatta’s
talk with them:
Reports in India’s English language newspapers in India always
leave you with the feeling that they’re incomplete, a lot’s
missing, a lot that the reporter never looked into, Mr Chidanand
Rajghatta told IIJNM trainees on Tuesday, 20 February.
The informal, interactive session with the Washington correspondent
of the Indian Express continued without a moment of silence immediately
he invited questions from trainees.
He was stormed with questions about how Indo-American relationship
was affected by the software boom, the Kargil war and the Pokhran
Mr Rajghatta said that India had much to gain from the software
boom. For a change, our population is working to our advantage;
it will make the Indian diaspora one of the strongest in the world.
The Kargil war, however, was the turning point in Indo-American
relations. He claimed that it established India as a "credible
and responsible government."
Mr M V Kamath, veteran journalist and
member of the Prasar Bharati paid a brief visit to the IIJNM. Mr
Kamath was "impressed" with the facilities and the curriculum
offered at the institute.
Arnold Zeitlin of the Freedom Forum was one of the earliest
to visit our campus. Mr Zeitlin spent a couple of days with us.
He termed his interaction with the students as "refreshing
Derek Hooper, a management and media consultant stimulated the
minds of our unsuspecting students. Derek confronted students to
question the media projected terms: North/South, Developing/Developed
or the First/World Third divide. The students found Derek’s
animated and incisive talk inspiring.