Panel discussion deliberates role of media in promoting culture of giving

28 Aug,2014

By A Correspondent


The Mumbai Press Club recently organized a panel discussion that deliberated the role of media in promoting a culture of giving. The panel discussion touched upon important topics like Is news today turning morbid? Is the focus solely on crime and scams? Is there space in the media for sunshine stories? More importantly, can the media foster a culture of giving in society? The discussion was held in the run up to Daan Utsav (formerly the Joy of Giving Week) celebrated from October 2-10.


The panelists included Ajay Piramal, Chairman, Piramal Group, Mid-Day editor Sachin Kalbag, Raheel Khursheed, head, politics, government, news at Twitter India, Ingrid Srinath, CEO, HIVOS India (former CEO, CRY) and actor Gul Panag. The panel was moderated by senior journalist Indrajit Gupta.


Venkat Krishnan N, founder, Daan Utsav, pointed the vast spectrum of people who had participated in the joy of giving festival, from CEOs to farmers in Gujarat who gave 4000 litres of milk to parts of the country that needed it.


India has always had a culture of giving since the days of the Ramayan and Mahabharat, shared Ajay Piramal who has hitherto been shy of talking of the philanthropy he has been involved with. He chose to discuss it openly in order to promote a culture of giving.


Charity is not about spending a lot of money. It is about giving whatever you can at any given point of time, said Gul Panag, who spearheaded Social Outreach Accreditation Program to bring the common man, NGOs and corporates together. “Many NGOs fall short when it comes to instituting programs for weekend volunteers,” said Panag.


Raheel Khursheed spoke of the role that social media plays in expanding conversations and connecting people who want to give. While getting blood for trauma victims was once a nightmare, Khursheed said that it’s now a matter of tweets and re-tweets, with blood being procured at tremendous speed. He even spoke of a teacher from a remote school in Kashmir who got laptops from a stranger in Mumbai thanks to social media.


Ingrid Srinath shared that the advent of social media has seen journalists reach out to her for stories rather than her having to pitch them to journalists. She spoke of CRY’s unique initiatives to network with the media, from cricket matches with CEOs and journalists to stories on profit and marketing initiatives that many NGOs shy away from.


Sachin Kalbag spoke of Mid-day’s role in focusing on local initiatives and on good news rather than solely on the bad. He spoke of his paper’s role in spreading awareness about malnutrition in Melghat that resulted in the Bombay High Court taking suo moto cognizance of the tragedy of 3,000 children and thereafter directed the state government address the situation.


The panelists were unanimous that media fared poorly when it came to spreading a culture of giving. Panag said she never read newspapers first thing in the morning as the flood of bad news ruined her day. When asked to wear the editor’s hat, Panag said that she would want two sorts of stories to make it to the paper every day. Stories of giving by the very rich and the very poor, from CEOs to chaiwalas. This, she feels, would help foster a culture of giving among most people who fall in between the two extremes.


Senior journalist Ayaz Memon said research showed that it was not simply editors but readers who crave bad news. Memon, who gave the vote of thanks, pointed to the need for changing the narrative.


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