Experts Call For ‘Good Cooperative Journalism’ at South Asia Dialogue

October 29, 2014

New Delhi: The 8th South Asia Dialogue on ‘Media's role in Promoting Regional Understanding in South Asia’ concluded today with the experts from all the South Asian countries, including Myanmar, recognising the need for ‘Good Cooperative Journalism’ that works not just for promoting understanding in South Asia, but takes ample care not to promote ‘misunderstanding in the region’. The Dialogue was organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) onOctober 28-29, 2014.

The participants expressed their concerns about the lack of knowledge about each other and emphasised on the media playing an active role in creating mutual awareness and understanding. Suggesting ways of sensitising media to the need for regional understanding, the panellists called for more and frequent exchanges between the media fraternity from all the countries, asked media associations and governments to take initiatives in this regard.

The experts also called for ‘cross postings’ of columns and views through articles and opinion pieces between the media of various South Asian countries. There should also be regular exchange of views in both print and electronic on issues that divide the two nations, they insisted. Taking note of the media's quest for better TRP ratings, the participants held that rather than sensationalising discussions on interstate tension, media should conduct debates in an unbiased and reasoned manner.

Recognising the limitations of the media that it is not a state player
and that it can, at best, make policy suggestions, the participants insisted that media can make a huge difference by not echoing the 'voice of the establishment’ and bring diverse viewpoints to the debates on foreign and security policies of states. "The media in South Asia needs to be liberal, pragmatic and without prejudice", they concurred. Rather than falling prey to the biases and preferences of the audience and telling them what they would like to hear, people in the media must be mindful of their responsibility towards the society at large. It should play its due role in showing the mirror to the society, when it is needed, they held. There was also a suggestion for providing quality training to the journalists of the region in order to bring rigour and moderation to their reports.

Reminding India of its ‘centrality in South Asia’ the panellists from other South Asian countries urged the Indian media to take a lead in forging alliances with the media of other nations in the region. The Indian media needs to be at par with the Indian entertainment industry, as far as outreach is concerned, they stated

Also, highlighting the importance of Social media, the panellists agreed that social media has turned people into ‘citizen Journalists’, capable of shaping agendas and influencing the foreign policy of the nation. However, mainstream media must take note that social media can churn hatred and provoke tension and violence. In such cases, social media needs to be countered effectively through responsible reporting.

The dialogue was attended by representatives of all South Asian nations and provided an opportunity for them to come together and share their views on issues of common interest.