Jaipur,  A two-day round table conference on development journalism – the second in the series organized by the Centre for Mass Communication, University of Rajasthan, with the support of UNICEF-Rajasthan – here highlighted contradictions within the media set-up which discourages ethical and honest journalists to highlight new aspects of poverty, discrimination, marginalization and prejudices.

The participants, who included journalism teachers, media practitioners, working journalists and academicians from different parts of the country, also laid emphasis on a paradigm shift in the development journalism education in order to make it responsive and sensitive to the present day needs and facilitate strengthening of democracy through robust institutions.
“The real India resides in villages and there is need to establish a Rural University”, said the former Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, Mr. Hari Jaisingh, who inaugurated the conference. The venue of the two-day event was Human Resource Development Cetnre’s Seminar Hall in Rajasthan University’s Vice-Chancellor Secretariat.

Mr. Jaisingh said while there was need for a serious rural journalism in the country in the age of digitization, the media persons had forgotten villages and were interested in only urban coverage with the proximity to those in power. He laid emphasis on the role of stringers operating from remote areas.

Prof. K.V. Nagaraj of Mizoram University, Imphal, said the current information age was confronted with the problem of lack of result-oriented development journalism. He cited the Gandhian philosophy, while pointing out that Mahatma Gandhi continues to be the role model for development journalists.

Mr. Rajiv Ranjan Nag, Member of Press Council of India, said the media houses were working on their own set agenda and the journalists were considered as carrying their own biases and prejudices. In this scenario, the serious work in the development sector was lacking, he added.

Mr. Harish Kumar from M.D. Rohtak University said the owners of media houses run their own writ within the organization and serve the interests of their businesses in other sectors, such as property, industries and mining. He asked the media students to select the institutions teaching about grassroots journalism for their studies.

UNICEF-Rajasthan Communication and Advocacy Specialist, Ms. Suchorita Bardhan, said since the media was considered the mirror of society, it was supposed to highlight the real concerns in the strategies, objectives and priorities of different sectors. Since the media persons working at the grassroots were often less educated, big media houses should train them with a proper perspective, she said.

Prof. Sanjiv Bhanawat, Head, CMC, University of Rajasthan, said this national dialogue was aimed at evolving a strategic plan for review and promotion of development journalism in order to bring it to the mainstream of media sector. This conference was a special effort to strengthen the curriculum of development journalism in different institutions, he said.

Four groups of participants deliberated on the topics of journalism syllabus, basic curriculum for training of journalists, associating social media with journalism and policy formulation through development journalism, in a brain-storming group work.
The Project Director, Kalyan Singh Kothari, delivered the vote of thanks to the senior journalists and media educators from different parts of the country. About 70 participants are attending the conference on both the days.

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