The two-day national seminar on ‘Media Representation of Northeast India: Looking Back and Looking Forward’ began at Don Bosco Institute in Guwahati on Friday. The seminar is being organized by the departments of Mass Communication of Rajiv Gandhi University and Ziro’s Saint Claret College of Arunachal Pradesh.
Attending the seminar as the chief guest, RGU vice chancellor Saket Kushwaha said there is a perception that media in the north-eastern were being marginalized. Recalling the trouble for media during his 14-year stay in Africa, he said it is easy for people to judge but the media have to strike a balance and that there are lots of forces pulling the system down.
He commended the journey media have made so far despite challenges. “The power of post-truth by the media influencing the future might have the crowd questioning but for me, the role media are playing is balanced,” he said.
Terming the media as the fourth pillar of the democracy, Prof Kushwaha asked if the other three pillars grab something serious from the media and convert important news into policies. Appreciating the skills of students in writing articles, he encouraged the spreading of the horizon of the Mass Communication Department.
“I look forward to a route map provided by the panel of resource persons,” he added, promising to implement any idea concerning RGU within the framed rules and guidelines.
Keynote speaker Ruben Banerjee, the editor-in-chief of Outlook and a journalist of more than three decades of experience said he had spent a considerable period of time as a young journalist in Odisha.
He also covered Bangladesh and the Northeast during the peak of the ULFA movement and travelled to Guwahati every seven days when flights were very few.
“It is very easy for people to say that the media are not discharging their responsibility, but if one is on the other side one realises the different perspectives,” Banerjee, also the author of two books titled ‘Naveen Patnaik’ and ‘Odisha Tragedy’, said.
He said that during his stay in Odisha people there complained about national media being quiet about the region, but the prevalent idea about Odisha was poverty, hunger, deprivation and malnutrition which may or may not be true. “So far the Northeast is concerned the reality is somewhat very complex,” he said.
Banerjee said youths of the Northeast have been doing a marvellous job in the media industry and that mainland media was not inimical to the region. “The news of lynching in Karbi Anglong made international headlines, the recent assassination of a politician in Arunachal Pradesh made top news, the NRC of Assam made it to the cover,” he said.
The media, he added, try to give their best, but publishing houses also have to look at profit and cater to their readership.
The seminar is being sponsored by Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Sriperumbudur and the Arunachal Pradesh Director of Information and Public Relations (DIPR).
A total of 54 research scholars are presenting papers on various sub-themes during the seminar.