Is development journalism an oxymoron?

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Kolkata, Mar 28 (UNI) Is present day media concentrating too much on events? Are they missing out on the greater issues concerning the public? While Ananda Bazar Patrika Assistant Editor Swati Bhattacharjee asked this question to young journalists at a two-day workshop on "Role of Media in Development and Governance" here, eminent journalist and author Hiranmoy Karlekar reflected on how the concept of morality had changed in the minds of media persons along with the rest of the society.

Mr Karlekar spoke on capitalism and globalisation, its adverse impact on a developing country like India, especially on the poorer section of the society.

He spoke on the integrity of the economic system and its growth and how that influenced the investors.

'' History has a direction, its moves towards a certain direction, which means there is a movement, a well defined and direction-specific movement, '' he said and added, '' It is the responsibility of the media to present a balanced picture of the change as well as to guide the change in a positive manner. '' '' Media has a multi-faced role to play. It has to act as an advocate, a watchdog and an agenda-setter for the society, '' he opined.

Speaking on Land Reforms and land acquisition, a very important topic as far as West Bengal is concerned, economist Dr Abhirup Sarkar of the Indian Statistical Institute today maintained that the problem with land acquisition in the state had to go through such hurdles because the government, supposed to be the best party to secure the interests of the farmers while bargaining with the investors, had ''failed'' to do so.

'' They instead have looked after the interests of the investors, '' he said adding, '' It is obvious that investors would want to set up their industries in places closer to the cities or places, well connected by land or sea.

'' If the government cannot build good rural infrastructure, smooth roads and access to the nearest ports, why will they even bother to go into the rural areas? '' Mr Sarkar asked and suggested that if, like Tamil Nadu, the West Bengal government had set apart land as "Land Bank", this situation would not have arrived.

On the other side, political scientist Dipankar Sinha maintained that the media has a role to play in the proper governance of the country. ''Whether or not the government is doing justice to the people they serve and whether the people are being benefitted is the media's job to keep a watch.'' Meanwhie, eminent journalist Uttam Sengupta, presently the Editor (North) of Dainik Bhaskar, enlightened the young journalists on the art of covering press conferences and dwelt on the skills needed to develop on writing developmental stories.

The workshop, which ended today, was jointly organised by the Centre for Media Research and Development Studies and the Depatrment for International Development(DFID), in collaboration with the British Deputy High Commission, Kolkata.

UNI LL SJC DB2127

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