Kolkata, June 1, 2020:In what proved to be a perfect start to the much awaited #MediaNext 2020 organized by the Kolkata-based Adamas University, renowned journalists from across the country shared their insights on the first day of the mega digital media fest that concentrated on Digital Journalism.
The speakers for the day included such stalwarts as Ramon Magsaysay awardee and internationally acclaimed scribe P. Sainath; Ashutosh, the former Editor of IBN7; B V Rao, the Group Editor of TV9 Network, Anjan Bandyopadhyay, the Editor of Anandabazar Patrika Digital; Chetan Sharma, the Founding CEO and Editorial Director of India Ahead and Anto T Joseph, the former Managing Editor of DNA.
The conclave is being organized in association with Sharda University, Birla Global University, DME, AIMEC, Lok Samvad Sansthan, exchange4media, ABP Education and IndiaReal. The mega conclave is being organized over a period of 10 days from June 1, 2020 to June 10, 2020. Each day of the conclave focuses on one specialized domain of the Media and Entertainment (M&E) industry and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on that specific domain.
Anjan Bandyopadhyay, one of the most iconic names in the world of Bengali journalism, was the first speaker for the day. He started the proceedings reiterating the importance of quality content. He expressed the opinion that the ground rules of journalism remain the same irrespective of the medium or the platform. He added that while print media is one-dimensional in its communicative aspect, digital media is interactive and has practically brought in a revolution.
Bandyopadhyay said, “While social media has become the primary news source, this trend has given rise to some serious implications. Post truth and fake newsconstitute some such implications.”
- Delhi Government Seeks 5000 cr Urgent Aid from Centre to Pay Employees
- SIM Swap Fraud: Noida Woman Loses Rs. 9.5 Lakh by Upgrading SIM from 3G to 4G
- Covid-19; Over Thousands of Indian Startups are Facing Existential Crisis
He emphatically iterated that the primary role of a journalist is to show the truth in a sea of information while differentiating news from information. He emphasized on attaching a lot of importance on the prospective audiences as they are well-informed and just needs a perspective.
Sainath, who is largely considered to be one of the finest journalists in the country, picked up from where Bandyopadhyay left. He started his rather powerful presentation by pointing out the utter failure of the mainstream media in highlighting the current plight of the migrant labourers.On a sarcastic note, he challenged the captive audience to cite one instance when any leading media organization talked about migrant labourers since 2011.
Sainath, who is also the founder editor of People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI), remarked, “On a five-year average, the total front-page reportage of rural issues is a paltry 0.67 percent. Remove the election year and the coverage goes down even further.” He made a distinction between journalism and media. He opined that while there are many skilled journalists across the board, the news organizations have totally failed in highlighting the plight of the marginalized section. He went to the extent of saying that the mainstream media excludes the real mainstream and doesn’t cover 75 percent of the population including the farmers, farm labourers and workers.
Sainath sardonically pointed out that the popular media has reduced itself to a mere revenue stream sans any humane considerations.
In a strong reprimand to the mainstream media, he pointed out that one of the largest exoduses of people from rural to urban areas in India in the period between 2001 and 2011 has been largely left uncovered by the premier news organizations in the country.
Anto T Joseph, a much respected name in the Indian news circuit and a prolific columnist, made a categorical comparison between the condition of newspapers before and after the pandemic. He was of the opinion that newspapers were already on the decline. However, the demise of print journalism has just been quickened by Covid-19. Joseph took the examples of some of the largest newspapers in the country that have registered negative growth rates.
Joseph, though, was very upbeat about the future of digital journalism. He opined that digital is indeed the way forward for news organizations to survive and stay relevant. However, he also iterated that the skills that determine journalism remain the same.
Joseph pointed to a very importance difference between print media and digital media. “While print media can’t change something that has already been published and it requires a rejoinder to correct a mistake, digital journalism can continue to change the content without ever making it clear that a change has been brought to a given content”, said Joseph.
Joseph also stressed on the importance of photojournalism and said that news photographs should be given greater visibility. He ended his rather powerful presentation by opining that convergence is the way forward.
Chetan Sharma, who has the innate ability to charm audiences with a baritone voice and real life examples, primarily delved on how fake news is posing a grave threat to the field of journalism.In fact, he went to the extent of saying that fake news could be construed to be the most deadly attack on mankind. He said that it is extremely important to combat fake news.
Sharma also spoke about the subtle and no so subtle differences between fake news and unsubstantiated news. While unsubstantiated news could result from ignorance, fake news always has a motive associated with it. He stressed on the primacy of logic and common sense in journalism.
Sharma also spoke about the dichotomy of facts versus fiction and opined that it is extremely important to form a rapport with one’s target audience. Sharma emphasized on understanding the advertising aspect of news. It is important to mention that Sharma has a considerable experience in the business of news. He ended his rather powerful presentation by stressing on the need to establish credibility and loyalty.
Next in line was the legendary Hindi language journalist Ashutosh. He started his discourse by pointing out how technology has changed the basic shape of journalism. While journalists until a few years back had to be associated with an established news organization to be called a journalist, the situation has drastically changed now thanks to the infusion of technology and social media. Ashutosh, who is the Founder Editor of Satya Hindi, called this phenomenon the democratization of journalism. He clarified how this trend has made journalism available to the common man.
Ashutosh bluntly said that print journalism is in its death bed and digital journalism is the only way forward. While celebrating citizen journalism, Ashutosh also pointed out the obvious perils of the same – the shortage of authenticity and credibility. Ashutosh iterated, “Journalism can’t be taught to someone. It is something that is ingrained within someone.”
While talking about the basic skills of journalism, Ashutosh said that one needs to read at least 10 newspapers everyday and remain extremely well informed in order to be a journalist. Finally, Ashutosh interestingly remarked that the role of the press is adversarial and the job of a journalist is to show negative things. Anyone who is saying otherwise is only indulging in propaganda.
The last speaker in the fray was the inimitable B V Rao, who has been one of the true multiplatform journalists in India. He started his presentation by pointing out how Firstpost grew to be the first true digital news platform of the country. He also gave a brief idea about the journey of the TV9 network.
Rao said, “Fairness is the most important thing in journalism.” He also stressed on the fact that storytelling remains the primary criterion in journalism irrespective of the medium.
Interestingly, Rao noted that being neutral means featuring a diverse set of opinions. However, Rao expressed anguish at the fact that youngsters these days are not equipped enough and are ill-informed. He ended the discourse by emphasizing on the importance of knowing multiple languages in order to be a successful journalist.
Dr. Sunayan Bhattacharjee
Assistant Professor at Adamas University