IWPC President Sushma Ramchandran's speech
          I would like to welcome you to the first ever seminar being organised by the IWPC in collaboration with the delegation of the European Union and the International Press Institute along with the Embassy of Finland. We hope this is the first of many such collaborative ventures. The aim of this event is to get both Indian and European perspectives on issues that are important to all of us in the media. This time we took a subject that is dear to all hearts and that is, human rights. But more importantly media reportage of all the issues linked to this basic theme. We want to learn from the experiences of our colleagues both here and in Europe and perhaps try to evolve a list of best practices for the future. I will quote from our concept note where we say that the overall purpose is to improve mutual understanding and exchange know-how of best practices in both the regions. I would also like to point out that this is not just confined to media. The seminar also offers a platform apart from working journaliss, to academics, researchers, lawyers and practitioners to discuss and challenge the reporting on human rights in India and EU.

The first session is on reporting from crisis and conflict zones. There are many issues involved in this. which all of us understand are very challenging. For instance, how graphic should our reporting be? How revealing should our visuals be? We cannot forget the criticism that came about the media coverage of Nepal earthquake by the Indian media/ Or the uproar over the TV coverage of 26/11. Even so there have been learnings and these have been taken to heart. So such conflict reporting has perhaps become more sensitive in recent times. Also what about those who report for decades from conflict zones like Kashmir or Maoist infested areas. How careful do they have to be to protect not just their source but themselves. Recently we have had a spate of attacks on journalists who have been reporting on the criminal elements in politics. Does that qualify as a conflict zone? But it sure is a Human Rights issue. And something that we as media have taken up strongly.

As for the second session its titled “towards an inclusive society”. Here we are interested to hear about the experiences of reporting of those who are on the fringes of society, minorities, disadvantaged and those who are often invisible to the rest of the world. Europe too like India has minorities and homeless, and right now is facing a huge crisis of migrants flooding into their countries due to conflicts in the middle east. We would like to know the perils of reporting on such sensitive issues and its impact on society at large.

The third session had to be about women and the media. We have so many here who have written so well on women’s issues. The title is apt -”friends or foes”. We have some men in the panel to give us their perspectives as well. Here the issue of human rights pertain to not just women in general but to women in media who have had a tough time trying to prove themselves. Has the glass ceiling broken? Well, I leave the verdict for the panel to decide.

Finally, the fourth panel is one which I think will evoke the most debate and audience response. It is the one on press freedom, media ethics and governance. These are issues which we as journalists discuss and debate about every day - what is the limit of freedom! How far can we go? What can be called censorship? What is ethical in journalism? Is corruption now a part of the media! Are we having too many media trials or maybe not having enough of them. Is a sting operation ethical? can a sting operation be legitimate or credible? Are newspapers being controlled by corporates ? Are views truly free and fair as a result in the media. What is defamation ? Is it fair for a judge to impose a Rs. 100 crore penalty on a news channel ? Or is the media so lawless that he has no choice ?

I have just touched the fringes of the debate that is going on in the media right now. I hope all of you have a lot to say about it. So all this is going to be fun and educative to debate. I look forward to the learnings both from the wise and experienced people in the panel as well as from the equally wise and experienced people in the audience. We hope this informed discussion will have a positive outcome. Thank you all for coming.
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