Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Social Reporting Strengthens the Civil Society

Shahid's Department puts emphasis on developing journalists that will look beyond the usual political reporting and address burning social issues of the day as well

(Dr. Shahid Rasool Bhat, 44, is the Director of the Educational Multimedia Research Centre (EMMRC) and head of the Media Educational Research Centre (MERC) of the University of Kashmir. He completed a B.Sc. degree with English, Zoology, Botany, Chemistry from the University of Kashmir, M.S. in Communication Technology from Newhouse School of Communication, Syracuse University (USA), with specialization in television and radio programme Production, and Ph.D in Mass Communication from the University of Kashmir. Dr. Bhat received the US Fulbright Professional Fellowship in New Communication Technology in 1998-99.)

BBC, KU project on social reporting concludes

Etalaat News Services

Srinagar:A dissemination event to display the media outputs produced by the students of Media Education Research Centre ( MERC) during two year training on social reporting was held at the Ghandi Bhawan Hall of the University of Kashmir today. The event facilitated an interaction between the trainee journalists, local media professionals, government officials, NGOs and all those involved in disaster management related activities.

The media outputs were the result of partnership of BBC World Service Trust with University of Kashmir’s Educational Multimedia Research Centre (EMC) and Media Education Research Centre (MERC) for a two year project aimed at promoting social affairs reporting in media in Kashmir.

The BBCWST also established a functional radio studio at Kashmir University that will be used by students and staff which, and will be will the property of EMC, University of Kashmir.

Prof Riyaz Punjabi vice chancellor Kashmir university, Altaf Hussain and Waheed Mirza from BBC, Sam Miller and Harpeet Kaur from BBC world service trust , Haroon Rashid Shah senior journalist and project coordinator from BBC trust ,registrar Kashmir university Prof Syed Fayaz , faculty and students of MERC and EMC KU , media professionals from print and electronic media, participated the day long valedictory event.

Speaking on the occasion Vice chancellor Kashmir University Prof Riyaz Punjabi who presided the event and watched and listened to all the short films and radio programmes produced by students said the project aimed at improving coverage of social affairs, especially disaster management, in the media in Kashmir by building the capacity of faculty and students at the University of Kashmir to produce more effective social affairs media reports . VC said that seeing the out puts from the trainees I feel the two year project has been successful in meeting its objectives.The Vice Chancellor prof. Riyaz Punjabi on the occasion said, "the talent that I saw today is really impressive. I am confident that the students can compete at the global level with ease given the opportunity". Prof Punjabi said that said that Social affairs reporting in this part of the globe was ignored for long and with such workshops, it has been brought to the fore and in focus again.. VC KU said that Social affairs reporting is more relevant in the context of Kashmir today and he appealed the BBC WST to consider conducting such workshops again next year considering the success of this one and its importance of sensitising the future journalists in the niceties of Social Affairs reporting.

Director MERC and EMC Dr Shahid Rasool said that the aim and objective of the project was to improve and encourage Social Affairs Reporting in Media in Kashmir. He said that the idea was also to build capacity in Social Affairs reporting training so that we can carry on such training programmes after the project is over. Dr Rasool said that all the workshops and training programs were conducted at EMC involving international trainers from BBC. After the training, students were taken to disaster affected areas of Uri and Karnah to file socially relevant stories for print and electronic media. Dr Shahid said that he is confident that we have been able to build the capacity to carry on the training in social affairs reporting in the years to come, involving local trainers.

Harpeet Kaur the project manager said that During thee training the Students of Department of Mass Communications, Kashmir University were divided into groups each headed by a trainer. She said that the stories uncovered the impact of earthquake on health, education, livelihood and building constructions of the houses, gender, role played by NGOs during the earthquake in Uri and Tangdhar. Fieldwork was also organized for the first year students in and around Srinagar. The students covered stories on issues related to environment and ecology, agriculture, transport facilities.

Speaking on the occasion senior journalist Altaf Hussain from BBC said that BBC Trust has put emphasis on Social Affairs reporting with capacity building. Altaf said that Social affairs reporting is not a new phenomenon here but it is perhaps due to conflict related issues taking up most of the space that social reporting did not get its space.. He praised the products produced during the two year training. . Mirza Waheed from BBC said that Commitment is important for good journalism and we should follow up on the stories that we have done earlier besides moving to new ones.

The two year collaborative project was aimed at appropriate training in general social affairs reporting, and, more specifically, disaster-related issues and also build the capacity of KU’s faculty to teach students in social affairs reporting in a way that will help meet the needs of future employers, as well as ensure the maintenance of high academic standards and to increase coverage of social affairs and disaster-related issues in the Kashmir media. Certificates of merit and participation were given to students by vice chancellor KU Prof Riyaz Punjabi at the end of the event.

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