Female journalists put development issues in spotlight: Vinod Mehta

"Increase in the number of women journalists in the past two-three decades has helped to bring development issues, including writing on children to the fore, they are better equipped to deal with such issues with greater sensitivity," said senior journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Outlook, Vinod Mehta. He was addressing the 55th session of Media For Children organized on the fourth anniversary  of Media Nest, a pan India forum of journalists at the UP Press Club.

Media for Children is a unique initiative of Media Nest and has been a bi-monthly event organized at UP Press Club on second and fourth Saturdays. It is supported by UNICEF, Uttar Pradesh. An event by the media for the media it aims at capacity building of media persons. 

"We are in a difficult and dangerous business but as we have opted for such a profession we have no right to complain about the dangers in our way," said Mehta. He said that along with the pay packet a journalist also gets threats but then that is part of being a scribe and that should not deter us from our path of bringing out the truth.

Guest of honour Adele Khudr, UNICEF Uttar Pradesh in her address urged journalist to be pro-active, avoid being sensational, especially when dealing with children issues and try and illustrate the writing with a human face.

"It is very easy to fall prey to sensationalism when reporting on children issues but a reporter must consciously avoid that," said Khudr.

Congratulating Media Nest for this unique initiative to get the doors of the Press Club opened for such meaningful dialogue on children issues she said that UNICEF is happy to be partners in such a healthy venture. She said this is not the first time that she has attended a session of Media for Children and she is happy at the work being done by Media Nest on under privileged children. Emphasizing the magnitude of child labour Sudha Murali, Child protection specialist,UNICEF, New Delhi, and a guest of honour at Media for Children, said that though media has been writing on children-related issues but sadly children have not figured in the media in the right way and much more soul-searching has to be done before writing on children.

Sumita Mehta, media consultant and development writer, while addressing the gathering said that child labor in any form is bad. “It takes away the Right of a child to be a child,” said Ms Mehta. While urging both the journalists and the civil society members to look at the problem from a human angle she said that a child who has been working as a child labour and a child who gets to spend a normal are two different entities. “Just look at their eyes and you will be able to see the difference,” she said. Wrapping up her presentation Ms Mehta left the audience present with a question. “Would you like your own child to work?

Ajit Verma, an Hyderabad based artist and landscaper made a mural live while the programme was going on. This was greatly appreciated by the invitees and the chief guests signed this mural and congratulated him for giving a different dimension to the event. Verma had shown children playing with toys while at a short distance away a child was engaged in labour. The latter was surrounded by question marks which each individual had to answer for himself.

The media students of Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute who had assisted in putting together the programme were presented with participation certificates by the Chief Guest.

A specially crafted mementoes on ‘lost chikan stitches’ from Asma Institute of Fashion Technology was presented to Vinod Mehta. The other panelists were presented with zardozi embroidery stoles made to order by Media Nest from a leading firm.

Earlier president of Media Nest senior journalist Mr. Sharat Pradhan welcomed the guests.  Ms Kulsum Talha, founder secretary general Of Media Nest conducted the programme and proposed a vote of thanks.

Present in the august audience besides the media were educationalists, NGOs working on children issues, teachers, social activists and UNICEF officials including state communication specialist Atul Kumar and members of Child Protection and Education cell Tannishta Datta, Nupur Pande, Deepa Das.

Kulsum Mustafa
(The author is a senior journalist and founder-Secretary General of Media Nest)