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Journalism during the time of COVID – a conversation

The Press Institute of India and UNICEF, in partnership with St Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai, organised a webinar on ‘Journalism during the time of COVID-19’ in September.

Moderated by PII Director Sashi Nair, the event revolved around a conversation with Mrinal Chatterjee, regional director, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal, and journalists Kavitha Muralidharan and Laasya Shekhar, on their experiences during work at a very difficult time. The aim of the programme, as UNICEF Communication Specialist Sugata Roy said, was to pass on lessons on the changed work scenario to upcoming journalists.

Despite the inherent difficulties of the period, which required journalists to take risks and often pay heavily for them, Mrinal Chatterjee saw it as an opportunity to learn new tricks of the trade, such as how to handle new technology and new ways of reporting and compiling a story. Kavitha and Laasya commented on the difficulty of infusing ‘soul’ into a story which had perforce to be done remotely because of safety protocols, but discussed various ways that a reporter could get and corroborate information in the COVID-19 scenario. The three panelists discussed what had changed in the field of journalism – including the reduced focus on legwork and the increased focus on digital media – as well as what had remained the same – the fundamental principles of simplicity, brevity and clarity. The senior journalists acknowledged that times were hard for the industry, with job insecurity and pay cuts. Yet, they were confident that things would improve, and affirmed their commitment to the profession.

While Fr Mariadas, principal, St Xavier’s College, made the introductory remarks, Fr Ignacy Arockya delivered the vote of thanks. The webinar had over 180 attendees.