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Media seminar proposes self-evaluation amongst organisations

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MUMBAI: A seminar 'Media as Vehicles of Change' held in Pune on 16 and 17 September explored subjects covering the aspects of academia, social and corporate relevance relating to the contemporary media trends. The seminar was organised by Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and Indira School of Communication (ISC).



In his keynote speech Dr Mohan Agashe, an eminent theatre and film personality, cited the example of mentally challenged children who paint very powerful images. He also foresaw a democratisation of the media through easy availability and wide penetration.



One of the highlights of the seminar was a workshop on post-modern cinema. Renowned filmmaker Ashoke Vishwanathan took the audience through aspects of filmmaking in the postmodern era. Earlier in the day, indiantelevision.com CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari gave a presentation on content regulation on television, suggesting a model for the functioning of the proposed broadcast regulatory authority. Wanvari also stressed the need for self-censorship in television channels.



Under the theme "The Future of the Media", Xanadu Communication MD and ex-publisher of The Times of India Jaisurya Das forecast the future of the print media, among which the important ones were replacement of news by analysis and discussion, also the increase of colour in the print media. He decried the sale of editorial space in newspapers, but suggested that journalists cannot forget their new combination of functions of writing, packaging and marketing, informs an official release.



Participating in the seminar, Idea cellular national GM marketing Manosh Sengupta spoke about the rise of SMS from being an accidental discovery 12 years ago to the birth of a new language, and new imperatives. According to Sengupta, the lack of privacy that this medium offers is nevertheless a cause for concern.



The first day explored themes such as the 'Changing face of media', 'Media representations in Society' and 'Media and Development'. Tam India director Sharan Sharma identified the trends in children's television viewing, and elicited it through some startling statistics.



Subroto Roy, a well-known, city-based journalist, revealed that media often withholds information from its audiences due to various imperatives stemming from source credibility. AMIC- India country manager Nandini Sahai argued for the need for community newspapers in rural areas, and narrated the success stories of such localised publications in Orissa, supported even by the state government. Meeta Parekh and Sudhanya Dasgupta Mukherjee, representatives of SEWA, Ahmedabad, illustrated a video news service by rural women, an innovative self-help initiative that has helped in empowerment of women in villages.



Indira School of Communication, Pune director Shashidhar Nanjundaiah advocated the need to revamp the current method of communicating at higher levels of education: "Classes need to get more interactive and meaning oriented rather than message oriented." Nitin Paranjape and Anita Borkar from Nasik-based Abhivyakti Media for Development stressed the need for people to free their minds by being creative as well as critical. "Realising that the power is within ourselves is a political change," they argued.



According to the release, the speakers ranged from media practitioners to academics and NGOs. ISC director Shashidhar Nanjundaiah explained the concept of the seminar and said, "Eclectic perspectives are needed for a balanced developed of this budding and ever-changing field. Our seminar is a platform for self-evaluation amongst media organisations and for critique from related institutions. Periodic stock-taking through such dipstick methods ensures that we know where the media are headed and what shape the changes effected by them will take."



The questions raised during the interactions with the speakers were a testament of the active thinking that the topics triggered among the audience, who were a blend of corporate professionals, academicians, NGOs and students. The seminar brought on the same platform perspectives from all these faculties of society and thus put forth a very balanced view of the change media is slated to bring in the future and how this change will affect our lives.

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