The Department of Communication, Sarojini Naidu School of Arts and Communication, University of Hyderabad (UoH) with support from the U.S. Consulate General, Public Affairs Section, Hyderabad organized a two-day workshop titled “MEDIA ETHICS: Professional Preparation and Practice’ on May 9, 2017 at Ellaa Hotels, Hyderabad.

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The two-day workshop was inaugurated by Ms. Katherine B. Hadda Consul General, US Consulate General, Hyderabad. Prof. Appa Rao, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad was a special guest for the event. The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair on Community Media, Department of Communication, UoH.

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The workshop is being organized as part of the Federal Assistance Grant awarded to Prof. Kanchan K. Malik, Head, Department of Communication, UoH for developing, in collaboration with Prof. Shakuntala Rao from State University of New York, Plattsburgh, a professionally-oriented course on Media Ethics with the objective of strengthening sound ethical decision-making skills among media students and professionals.

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In her inaugural address, Ms. Katherine B. Hadda, Consul General, US Consulate, Hyderabad noted the shifting contours of media ethics in the wake of fake news, pressure to achieve advertising revenues, temptation to publish sensational stories and the shift of gatekeeping from humans to algorithms. Despite all these drastic changes in the media ecosystem freedom of press is still the pillar of society in all democratic countries, while it is banned in totalitarian regimes.

Prof. P. Appa Rao, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad, special guest on the occasion observed how ethics are very hard to define as they are related to human behaviour and the need for objectivity and accuracy in the journalistic endeavour. He stressed on the importance of professional training in journalism and the need for the inclusion of ethics education in the curriculum and congratulated the Department of Communication for taking this initiative and the US Consulate for supporting the initiative. He hoped that the workshop will give a direction to the debates on Media Ethics.

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Prof. Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair on Community Media, Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad, in his Keynote address, while narrating a few anecdotes from his career, noted the various ethical dilemmas which a media professional encounters in the context of structural and institutional issues. He observed, how journalism education should not just be about learning the nuts and bolts but should also address the soul, which could be done through introduction of real world cases in the media ethics curriculum and teaching them to students to develop critical thinking which could in turn help in developing a moral compass to guide young journalists.

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Prof. Kanchan K. Malik, Head, Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad in her welcome address, stressed on how media professionals should develop a sophisticated and sensitive ‘ethics radar’ that they can use to spot and judiciously deal with ethical issues. She noted that the thematic sessions of the workshop are aimed at developing a media ethics curriculum that will not only improve the class room vocabulary to talk on ethics, but will also augment the effectiveness of ethical thought process and decision making in the media.

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Prof. Shakuntala Rao, State University of New York, Plattsburgh while outlining the vision of the project, observed how these are best and the worst times for journalism, ethics and democracy. She elaborated on the nature of the workshop which was not envisioned to alter people’s behaviour or decide best practices but to act as a sounding board, a place for journalists can come, share, learn, and inform about ethics. The topics in the workshop have been kept contemporary and will also address certain philosophical underpinnings.

Mr. Gabriel Hons-Olivier, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate delivered the vote of thanks and noted that the US consulate would support this initiative and that it’s a long-term project. He outlined their plans to engage with media organizations in Hyderabad and the interiors of Telangana.

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The thematic sessions of the workshop consist of discussions and reflections among experienced journalists and academics from Hyderabad on the contemporary ethical practices globally and in India.

The thematic/technical sessions in the two-day workshop consist of:

Political Reporting and Paid News
Chair: Prof. K. Nageshwar, Chief Editor, Hans India and HMTV

Trial by Media and Right to Privacy
Chair: Mr. Allam Narayana, Senior Journalist and Chairman of Telangana Press Academy

Conflict of Interest and Journalistic Practices
Chair: Mr. K. Ramachandra Murthy, Editorial Director, Sakshi Media Group
Co-Chair: Ms. Uma Sudhir, Editor, NDTV

Covering Marginality and Minorities
Chair: Mr. Amer Ali Khan, Editor, The Siasat Daily

New Media and the Spread of Fake News
Chair: Prof. Usha Reddi, Educationist and Consultant in ICT for Development

Prof. B P Sanjay, Pro Vice-Chancellor, UoH will deliver the Valedictory Address.

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