Subject Expert Engagement (SEE) Series Shubhranshu Choudhary from CGNet Swara Delivers Talk at KSMC

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KIIT School of Mass Communication has started another flagship talk series, Subject Expert Engagement (SEE), from this semester. The SEE talk series seeks to promote student and expert engagement for an elaborate and extensive knowledge delivery and aims to extend the horizon of the learners beyond the confines of the syllabus.

The first talk under the series was delivered by Mr. Shubhranshu Choudhary, Founder, CGNet Swara, world’s first community radio on mobile based in Chhattisgarh. Mr. Choudhary has been deeply engaged in creating a working model for democratic media since 2004.

In this talk titled – “Like Politics, Can the Media also be Democratic?” – Mr.  Chaudhary spoke at length about how equal communication may help in creating an equal society away from the current “aristocratic model of media”. “The question – Can we create a democratic media? – is the basis of CGNet Swara. Whatever social media platforms or citizen journalism experiments we have today have two problems. First, most of the social media platforms are internet-based, excluding a major population of the world. Second, in most of the citizen journalism platforms, there is no mechanism or system of cross-checking or verification. This is neither social nor media”, he stated.

Today we have the tools and we need to choose whether we want to create social media or a democratic media, a platform which will be inclusive, he said. He called for a democratic media similar to political democracy, where each person has one vote. In democratic media, each person’s voice should have the same weight, stressed Mr. Choudhary, an ICFJ Knight Fellow. Mr. Choudhary’s mobile news service CGNet Swara (Voice of Chhattisgarh) has transformed how people in remote areas of India receive and share the news. It has bypassed the ground problems like lack of internet, mobile connectivity and illiteracy, and multiple languages.

Giving insights into how technology can become a saviour for the have-nots, Mr. Choudhary told the students, “Most villages even in tribal areas have half a dozen mobile phones. Mobile has brought a revolution and even if the internet did not work, news, both audio and video, could still be transferred through Bluetooth.”

Ms. Ruby Nanda, Assistant Professor of KSMC & SEE Coordinator introduced the university, school and the programme. The session was moderated by Nidhi Nyari and Sivani Sangita, 3rd year students of KSMC. They welcomed and introduced the speaker.

The session was enriching a great learning experience for all the attendees. The talk ended with an interaction, where the speaker took queries from the audience. The vote of thanks was proposed by KSMC Course Coordinator and convener of the programme Dr. Bidu Bhusan Dash.

Several media academicians, including Anirudha Jena from University of Hyderabad, B N Panda from Amity University, Bandita Panda from Khallikote University, Ram Awtar Yadav from Jagran Lakecity University, Sujit Mohanty from Central University of Orissa, and Sumit Behera from Ravenshaw University  also participated in the webinar. Faculty members including Dr. Anurag Sahu, Mr. Souptik Garai, Dr. V R Raju and Mr. Ajay Mishra from KSMC and KSFMS along with students from all three years of Master of Communication and Journalism (Integrated) programme also attended.  

CGNet Swara allows people to use mobile phones to send and listen to audio reports in their local language. This service circumvents India’s ban on private radio news and reaches people who never before had access to local news. Mr. Choudhary has trained more than 100 citizen journalists to produce audio news reports. Nearly 1,400 news reports – verified by professional journalists – have gone out. CGNet Swara also has a website where all stories are posted.

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