Orissa: Children issues must get appropriate and proper media coverage

1 Oct

Sambalpur:The two day long “Media Workshop on Issues Concerning Children of Odisha”, organised by Development Media Collective and MASS, concluded here today with resource persons and participants emphasising on a strategic action plan to cover children’s issues.  The workshop, which was organised with support of the National Foundation for India and UNICEF, New Delhi, was participated by 50 journalists and development practitioners from across the state.

Joining as the Chief Guest in the workshop, veteran journalist Prof. Durga Prasad Nayak, advised the present day journalists to go beyond event reporting and working only on press releases.  “You have to be investigative and dig out the real issues concerning the children.  We have to harp on issues again and again till we are sure that the people at the helm of affairs have taken appropriate action”, said he. “Our Constitution, when it was formulated, talked about guaranteeing free and compulsory primary education within ten years.  However, it’s shameful that we are still not able to guarantee that.  This is a gross violation of the right of the children and we must focus on this and the factors that are responsible for this to be able to bring positive changes in the society”, emphasised Prof. Nayak.

Senior journalist Prafulla Das from The Hindu, joining as the Chief Speaker, said how development priorities have been changing favouring destructive development which negatively affects the ecology that provides sustenance to livelihood of the rural population; and how this means further marginalization of the children of the poor and deprived communities.  “While reporting about children, we should not get biased by what’s flowing in from dominant sections of the society, but we must dig down the facts and see matters as the children want to see those”.  Highlighting how a group of elite class sitting in Delhi raised the issue of children joining their parents in their struggle against the steel major POSCO, he said that, “while all in the society saw the children participating in the demonstration with their parents, a very few could bring to the notice how this was but natural and how situation of the school and other development activities in a normal condition are more precarious in those areas which has been forcing children to stay underdeveloped.  It’s our role to go beyond and see things in an integrated way”, said he.

“Children have special issues that may be ignored by adults most of the times.  Hence, the media should take proper care to report their issues from their perspectives”, said Ranjan Panda, Convenor of Development Media Collective, while narrating the objectives of the workshop.  He said, DMC has been working for last half a decade as an informal platform between journalists and development thinkers and practitioners to promote reporting, action and advocacy on development issues of the state and this is the third workshop so far, this time dealing with children issues.

Archana and Reena, two child reporters from Koraput, participating in the workshop, narrated their experience of effecting some positive changes in their schools, parents and villages through constant reporting.  Ch. Santakar, a journalist from Koraput, who has been supporting this UNICEF assisted initiative, emphasized on ‘child participation’ in all development activities for bringing in holistic development.

Ms. Madhumita Das, a Clinical Psychologist, discussed on the Juvenile Justice Act and other Acts and Provisions that the journalists should be well versed with while reporting on children issues.

Among others, Bhagabat Prasad Nanda, Priya Ranjan Sahu, Siba Shankar Nanda and Saroj Mohanty discussed about various aspects of reporting and journalistic ethics.

Kandala Singh and Barsha Poricha from National Foundation for India participated and described NFI’s activities with regard to media and communication. They urged upon the media houses of Odisha to employ more women journalists so that this field can be inclusive.

The workshop concluded with the participants and resource persons resolving to strengthen the forum “Development Media Collective “ through regular interactions and activities including a strategic plan to report and work on children issues so that the children of the state, especially those belonging to the deprived sections and from vulnerable pockets, get their due opportunity to childhood and development.

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