More than 80 undergraduate and postgraduate students attended two workshops organized by the Swadeshabhimani Media Study Centre of the VMFT on 25-26 November, 2022. The workshops critically examined the methods used by the mainstream media to shape public opinion, using the representation of migrant workers during the COVID-19 crisis as an example.
Dr. Ram Bhat, co-founder of the NGO Maraa, a Media and Arts Collective, and Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics, facilitated the workshops. The workshops discussed the recent study “Media Under the Lens- Representation of migrant workers in regional media”, produced by VMFT, which was authored by Dr. Bhat. The workshop was also addressed virtually by Dr. Sajitha Bashir, Vice-Chair person of VMFT.
The media provides us with information that we frequently use to make sense of the world, and it plays an important role in framing public opinions, influencing political agendas, and constructing public sentiment about contemporary issues. Media texts have the power to shape an audience’s knowledge and understanding about sensitive topics like representation or migration.
“We often understand that the media representation of major social issues is biased or uninformed, but we don’t know how to analyze it systematically “, said Dr. Bhat. The workshops discussed broad frameworks for media, communications, and development, as well as points to consider when producing original works as journalists and researchers.
Undergraduate students from Mar Ivanios College of Journalism participated in an activity-based workshop on 25 November at the VMFT Hall, where they discussed the study report and identified the current barriers to fair representation in media and communication. Two students, Abhinav M. Murali and Sarangi A. L., presented papers on media misrepresentation during the Covid crisis. “We have seen how insufficient media coverage has slowed India’s response to COVID-19. The issue of media misrepresentation is a serious issue with damaging consequences”, said Abhinav, a third-year journalism student at Mar Ivanios College.
The second workshop for post graduate students was organized by the Department of Journalism at the University of Kerala Kariavattom campus on 26 November. The focus was on research methods that could be used to systematically analyse media representation.
“SMSC intends to organise more programs that will expose students and young journalists to cutting edge research methods and tools so that they can engage in promoting thoughtful debates in the society on compelling issues such as inequality, climate change, environmental degradation and so on,” said Dr. Bashir.
The research study was released in September 2022 by the Hon. Minister of Culture, Sri. V. N. Vasavan. It explores the representation of migration and labor related issues by mainstream newspapers and television news channels in Kerala and Karnataka. While documenting the less well-known Kerala and Karnataka experiences of covid 19, the research sheds light on the patterns of migration and labor representations in the media. The research reveals a clear lack of consistency in reporting on this issue, with media coverage failing to provide any in-depth understanding or exploration of the systemic and policy failures relating to the inster-state migrants, whose work underpins our economy.