Bhubaneswar: The annual media conclave of Xavier University, Bhubaneswar, Communiqué’19 XUB, was conducted by IlluminatiX, the Media & PR Cell of XUB, on September 7, 2019. The theme for the session was ‘Truth, Lies and Quibbles – Is Media Literacy the Only Solution?’
The conclave, graced by the presence of industry veterans and faculty members alike, was inaugurated by Dr. Fr Antony R. Uvari, S.J. (Vice-Chancellor, XUB). “Media is powerful and can make or break a person’s image,” he said, speaking about the immense influential capacity that is characteristic to mass media. He also addressed the ethical aspects of journalism, pointing out that dependency and integrity are the key responsibilities that come along with holding such powerful positions.
The panel was moderated by Prof. Arpita Saha (Professor, Xavier School of Communications, XUB), and the panel was graced by Mr. Danish Manzoor (Editorial Director, International Business Times), Ms. Damayanti Datta (Consultant Editor, Outlook Group), Mr. Dhiraj Shetty (Deputy Editor, The Hindu), and Ms. Puja Banerjee (Editorial Consultant/Senior Correspondent, Millennium Post).
Ms. Saha initiated the discussion, stressing on the importance of being critical thinkers, in this age and time. “We live in a world where the line between reel and real has become blurred. In such a state, it becomes important to question the impact of mediated communication on Indian sensibilities,” she observed, summarizing the essence of the theme.
Mr. Manzoor, the first speaker for the day, threw light upon the various factors that cause biased journalism, including corporate funding and ownership. Touching the pertinent topic of agenda-setting, he spoke about the importance of media literacy amongst the general audience. “Media literacy shouldn’t be restricted just to the curators of news, but should also reach the audiences,” he noted. He gave real-life examples of how fake news coupled with misinformation can cause grave situations, including casualties. He stressed on the importance of questioning everything and not letting ideologies influence how one perceives the news.
Ms. Datta, while narrating a real-life incident, brought to attention the constant presence of the binaries of truth and falsified information, always at loggerheads. “The choice of believing or disbelieving a piece of information is up to the consumer of the news. If you don’t set standards and try to weed out disinformation, you will be fed junk in the name of news.” She also gave insights into the changes that media underwent in the last two decades, observing how terms like misinformation, post-truth, and fake news were only recently coined. “Internet has unleashed a flood of misinformation and click-bait headlines have become very common,” she concluded, highlighting the importance of being media literate.
Mr. Shetty explained how the increase in the number of media brought about the debate on media literacy, with messenger applications like Whatsapp, being at the forefront of this change. “Validating information in the age of smartphones is very difficult, creating an explosive situation waiting to be exploited. Anybody has the power to create and disseminate news,” he noted, reiterating the problems plaguing this digital world. He defined media literacy as the means to counter the negative effects of mass media. “We must introduce the concept of media literacy in various ways,” he concluded.
Ms. Banerjee urged the students to not judge anything too quickly and stressed on the importance of fact-checking. “Journalists should focus on speaking the truth, questioning those in power, and standing by the weak,” she said, restating the watchdog role of journalists. “Editorials and edit pages should be read by students and the government should promote news literacy in schools,” she concluded. The students of XUB, actively engaged with the panelists and asked meaningful questions. The panelists gave a holistic view of the theme, stressing on various aspects of media, and sharing their personal anecdotes to add more value to the discourse. This event also marked the release of Xperience- the Monthly Newsletter of XUB, presented by IlluminatiX – the Media & PR Cell of XUB. The winners for Communiquiz – a Quiz Competition and Critique- a National Article Writing Competition organized as a run up for Communique’19 XUB, were awarded with their cash prizes and certificates by the esteemed panel. The conclave was concluded by a vote of thanks by Mr. Sourav Nath (Co-Ordinator- IlluminatiX XUB).