GUWAHATI, Oct 1 – “The media has a lot of responsibility towards the society and hence it is important that journalists verify and cross-check facts before airing or publishing it.” This was the unanimous conclusion among participants and resource persons in the two-day documentary film screenings on media issues and reporting disaster at the NEEPCO auditorium in Bokuloni in Duliajan on Monday evening.
The initiative by Dibrugarh District Journalists’ Association in association with the Film and Cultural Society of North East and the Mumbai-based Indian Documentary Producers' Association was inaugurated on September 28 by filmmaker and social activist Jahnu Barua. In his inaugural address, after the screening of a documentary on the BP Oil spill of Louisiana, which is termed as one of the worst oil spills in history, he spoke on the power of documentaries in bringing complex issues to the world in a very simple manner.
Earlier, HS Changmai, the project head of the Assam Gas- based plant in Kothalguri welcomed the journalists and chief guest to NEEPCO and expressed hope that the exercise will do a lot of good to society. Prodip Gogoi, the president of DDJA, spoke on the objective of the exercise, the first-of-its-kind in India, and expressed hope that journalists would emerge intellectually and professionally richer from the initiative.
Interacting with journalists from London, Rita Payne, the president of Commonwealth Journalists’ Association, and former Asia editor of BBC, said that the current crisis in the society offers media persons an opportunity and also vests on them a responsibility. She also called on journalists to exercise discretion while reporting. She also spoke on the challenges of the media in various countries, especially those where natural resources were aplenty but democracy was missing. Two documentaries Nero’s Guest dealing with farmer suicide and its reporting with reference to P Sainath, the rural affairs editor of The Hindu and Satellite Queens, a documentary film by the Dutch filmmaker Brigtje Van Der Haak on the life of four anchors working for a television channel in the Middle East, were screened on the first day.
The event was sponsored by NEEPCO, while OIL and Assam Gas Company were the co-sponsors in organising this initiative to sensitise journalists on various issues confronting journalists in their daily life.
Interacting with journalists on the concluding day of the programme, Sandeep Phukan, an NDTV journalist, reflected on the growing challenges and crisis confronting the media, especially with its corporatisation. He also responded to questions from college students on media and its perspective on issues.
Among the two documentaries screened on the concluding day were by Australian director Hugh Piper’s Dancing with Dictators, on the English weekly paper Myanmar Times and Brokering News by Umesh Agarwal on the influence of money and power on media reporting. Piper also joined the session from Sydney through Skype and answered questions from journalists.