Media, in all its forms, acts as the fourth column of a modern state and is reflective of contemporary societies. Print and broadcast media air topics of national importance and help build public opinion. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that newspapers act as a mouthpiece for social justice and, as such, are agents for social change.
In an environment where governance is poor, journalists need to bring much needed transparency in all facets of life and provide an avenue for venting voices, crying out to be heard. Seen in this light, our media needs to expend more effort to ensure reporting standards remain in sync with our socio-economic development.
All-round professional development is key. There are three components to this -education, training and exposure. For English language publications, there is a prima-facie need for ensuring linguistic ability. The South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) displays such quality. The style of Warren Fernandez, editor of the Straits Times (Singapore), is also worthy of mention. Good quality articles, reports and blog posts are just a click away. There is need to recognise one’s shortcomings as a starting point for improvement.
There is no shortcut to success. Training is of two types-classroom and on-the-job. With the help of online delivery, it is possible to impart professional education in short bursts of between a week to three months, depending on the subject matter. Live classes are needed only for a few hours a week for the facilitator to answer questions and reinforce learning. The Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB) and the DU Journalism Department can work in concert in this area.
The facility of read, extract, manipulate, and interpret data is an invaluable aid for the practicing journalist. Especially appealing and impactful are visual representations, such as infographics. Skill development in this arena may be framed as education or classroom training. We should be able to tap people adept at statistics and data science and there are quite a few in Dhaka.
One mustn’t forget the role of mentorship in the workplace. Unfortunately, seniors routinely shirk grooming their juniors in all sectors of the economy. To get around this barrier, coaching can be made part of the superior’s job function.
When journalists visit other countries, it opens their eyes. They learn first-hand and come back brimming with ideas. Short-term placements on a reciprocal basis within South Asia may be considered for sharing practices and building connections. Needless to say, this will incentivise our journalists.
All this needs, of course, money. In view of the crucial role of media in nation building and enhancing our image all stakeholders, can invest in engineering a qualitative development of the media. The country needs it.
* Raihan Amin is visiting faculty, University of Asia Pacific