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Updated: January 10, 2014 23:14 IST

‘Scholars must help scribes highlight serious issues’

V. Sridhar
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N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons, speaks at the 10th anniversary
conference of the Foundation for Agrarian Studies in Kochi on Friday. Photo:
Vipin Chandran
The Hindu
N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons, speaks at the 10th anniversary conference of the Foundation for Agrarian Studies in Kochi on Friday. Photo: Vipin Chandran

Journalism, which is often characterised by “superficiality and dilettantism,” will benefit greatly from the contributions of scholars covering serious issues such as the agrarian crisis in India, according to N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons, which publishes The Hindu.

Delivering a lecture on ‘News Media and Agrarian Issues’ at the Tenth Anniversary Conference of the Foundation for Agrarian Studies (FAS) Mr. Ram urged scholars and specialists to conduct workshops for training journalists in the methodological rigours of this complex subject. “You will find enough young journalists willing to learn.”

“The garden variety of journalism requires most of us to function in a world of superficiality,” he said. The demands of the profession, requiring journalists to “cover all kinds of subjects,” contributed to an environment in which journalists had to do their job with very little preparation. Journalists must recognise that “this is a given in journalism” and must make a conscious effort to overcome this by acquiring the methodological skills that are necessary to cover issues such as deprivation or agrarian distress, he said.

Mr. Ram urged scholars to help “raise the ethical bar in journalism and constantly demand this from journalists.” “There is very little organised effort to critique journalism, to look at it from the outside and to call journalists, newspapers and television news channels to account.” He urged scholars to “unleash in a somewhat uninhibited way criticism of the incompetencies and superficiality that goes in the name of journalism, in print, TV, radio and the digital platforms.”

Referring to the potential of the social media, Mr. Ram said: “There is a great deal of romanticisation of what the social media can contribute on topics related to specialised fields such as agrarian studies.”

Mr. Ram urged the FAS to research the media’s coverage of some particular issue that came under its ambit of work. He urged scholars to analyse “a reasonable sample” of newspapers for their coverage of migration, real wages, and access to education and health care.

The conference is being attended by more than 125 delegates from across the world.

More In: National | News | Kochi | Kerala

I fully agree with Shri N. Ram on the need for helping the scribes by
scholars and specialists. But, are scribes are inclined to take help?
I doubt very much. Nothing wrong with dilettantism, but refusal to
learn is the real problem. I often observed that scholars are inclined
to share but scribes are unwilling to learn. To share my own
experience-With a desire to generate a debate on health of ' Billion
and plus', I shared with about 300 scribes on various health policy
issues periodically through the medium of hand written post cards.I
have completed 8 rounds on 8 subjects. I also shared with them some
articles in hard copies on policy issues. I even sent to them a list
of 50 health practices that benefit them personally. I greeted them
and wished good health.Leave aside the debate, not a single person
responded with a simple ' hello' even.I wrote to a school of
journalism expressing my interest to take a class with out TA,DA and
honorarium. Not received response! I am in a fix.

Posted on: Jan 11, 2014 at 15:20 IST
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