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Providing an interface

A seminar on `e-governance and the media' organised by the students of the Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, Pune brought together students of the institute and other educational institutions.

CHANGING TRENDS: Shashidhar Nanjundaiah feels there is a swing towards broadcast journalism.

STARTING FROM February 2003, students of Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication, (SIMC) Pune, have travelled the major metros of the country, holding seminars and seeking to probe contemporary issues with the aim of understanding their own place and contribution in the field of mass communications. After organising seminars in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Dubai, Ahmedabad and Bangalore, they had one in Hyderabad on `e-governance and the media' recently.

These seminarsare conceived, planned and conducted by the students themselves (with the assistance of the faculty and their director, of course), which includes, deciding the resources persons; `it is a collective process', says Avantika Shinde, one of them. Ideally, students hailing from these cities are asked to network, organise, publicise and conduct the seminar proceedings. Their training in public relations, journalism and advertising come in handy as each student from her/his respective discipline chips in with inputs - be it creating posters , leaflets, and designing campaign or preparing press releases and handling media.

Footprints is an annual event and one of its aims is to help people learn more about SIMC - via `campaigning' for these seminars. But at the same time, it helps students - of SIMC and from other educational institutions - gain knowledge about the current issues and the role of media. The seminars this year focussed on the future of advertising, interactive alternative media, regional television, freedom and responsibility, relevance of documentary films, brand communication and e-governance.

Vinod Pavarala (S.N. School, department of Communications, University of Hyderabad), Phani Kumar (Director, e-Seva) and Rao Chelikani, Lok-Satta) were the resource persons at the seminar held here.

But why e-governance? Bharat, a smart young student of PR, - who co-coordinated the whole event - says, "since this is the first State that started the idea of e-governance, we thought it was relevant. We are asked to choose a subject of relevance in the city of our choice. So this was appropriate. There are issues with this concept of e-governance, but media can be the buffer and can propagate to more people - both the use and the critique of it. The main thing is, reaching out to people." Shashidhar Nanjundaiah, the Director, SIMC says, "notwithstanding the fact that we get students from a particular segment of society, mostly urban, there are certain elements in our training which make them more grounded with the reality". About the trends in the career choices of the students, he says, "today there is definitely a swing towards broadcast journalism, much of it on account of the glamour attached to it."

"After watching Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep they say they want to report from J&K - may be just for the `kick' of it, initially. But they have these notions about media. Very few of them take to print journalism. But I don't think this will remain a constant. The pendulum has to swing to the other side too. In fact, this year we have more students opting for print journalism than we had last year. And those who take to print journalism, even though their numbers are small, are indeed focused on what they want to do."

The seminar had the students putting on their critical thinking caps although the concept of e-governance raised more doubts, criticisms and queries than agreement, there was fair amount of reflective thinking among the youngsters on what can be the possible solutions for problems facing the country. One of the highlights was the film made by the SIMC students on the post-Godhra violence in Gujarat.

The seminar - sponsored by a few private institutions seemed to have given enough practical experience to the students (in their first year at the institute) to take on similar responsibilities in future. Not to mention the insights into the politics, ethics and practicality of the world of communications.


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