Jaipur : Communication professionals, faculty members and prominent mediapersons from different parts of the country, taking part in a round-table consultation for evolving curriculum of development journalism here, laid emphasis on redefining the role of journalists in order to address social realities of poverty, deprivation and increasing social development gaps for the poor and marginalized.
The day-long consultation was organised by the Centre for Mass Communication, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), at Jaipur to deliberate on a meaningful course framework for journalism education in different universities and mass communication institutions that can successfully address social development issues. The consultation also expressed the need for developing similar customized training module for practicing journalists.
The round-table was part of the UNICEF supported series of consultations aimed at evolving a curriculum of development journalism that could widen the horizons of students and practicing media professionals and promote communication with stakeholders to secure their partnership in the development process in their respective areas.
The prominent speakers at the consultation included the Broadcast Editors' Association general secretary, Mr. N.K. Singh; former Vice-Chancellor of Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication, Mr. Sunny Sebastian; Indian Institute of Mass Communication's Associate Professor, Dr. Anand Pradhan; and consultant with Rajasthan Patrika, Mr. Kulbhushan Kothari.
Faculty members of about half-a-dozen mass communication institutions and journalists expressed concern over the Indian news outlets distorting realities and serving the interests of market forces. The speakers felt that nothing less than a paradigm shift in teaching of theory and practice of journalism could serve the purpose of grooming the next generation of journalists.
Mr. Singh said the Indian news media establishments, which had adopted a fossilized thinking, were lying in deep slumber with no concern for issues confronting the toiling masses. He said that the market forces were blunting the power of thinking among the masses.
Mr. Sebastian felt that development journalism should be introduced as a compulsory subject in the media studies syllabus and the students should be apprised of its nuances in which sustainable development should be the ultimate objective. Mr. Kothari said the communication professionals should help journalists in honing their skills to enable them to understand finer aspects of development sectors such as health, education and growth.

Mr. Ashok Chaturvedi Secretary General, Association of Small and Medium Newspapers of India stressed that a programme should be developed under which Journalism Teachers from universities are shifted to work in media organisations, Print as well as, Electronic. Similarly Journalists from main stream media can join the Universities as Faculty Members.

Some of the speakers also said the present day media needs to shed its elitist bias and give more space to the news relating to rural development, challenges for community participation and transformation in the rural society in states like Rajasthan.
Among the practising journalists, Chief of Bureau of Hindustan Times, Jaipur, Mr. Rakesh Goswami and Senior Assistant Editor of The Hindu, New Delhi, Mr. Mohammed Iqbal, addressed the consultation. Prof.  Sanjeev Bhanawat, Head, Centre for Mass Communication, University of Rajasthan, moderated the discussion, while the UNICEF-Rajasthan Communication Specialist, Ms. Suchorita Bardhan, provided an outline for critical skills appraisal in journalism education today to make it responsive, ethical and responsible and prioritize social development issues.

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