Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lie travels faster than the truth?

Last month has seen two major rumours showing the power of communication, especially if it is a lie. I remember what Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on.”

The rumour of deaths by mobile phones travelled all across the northern region within one day, while a week back, the rumour of 'impending earthquake' kept many people out of their homes the whole night. My enquiries revealed that most of the people received phone calls from friends or relatives informing that an 'earthquake is expected so rush out'. The entire Panjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, was affected within a matter of hours...and it all happened between 1am and 3am.

The question is: who started it? And how come majority of the people believed it, without realising that the mankind has yet to reach a stage to be able to predict earthquakes.

Prof. H.S. Dilgir is no more

We have lost the father-figure of journalism, author, journalist, Public Relations professional, playright, theatre artist, film producer, and more importantly, a truly saintly Teacher, and a great human being. He was the founder president of the Chandigarh Chapter of Public Relations Society of India, and had attended several all India PR conferences. A visiting faculty to several journalism and public relations departments to various universities, he had authored several books on public relations, and journalism.
He was admitted in Sector 32 Hospital today morning as he complained about breathlessness, but on reaching there at 9:30am he had a heart attack and his blood pressure also dropped suddenly. Though the doctors struggled on and despite our best of prayers, he passed away at 3pm. He had willed to donate his body and with the concurrence of his wife and two daughters, the body was handed over to the Govt Medical College, Sector 32 hospital, while the eyes were gifted immediately to the eye bank in the hospital. He was a great man, who cared about every little thing, and would go all the way to help anyone. After his retirement he had taken sojourn in the Nadiali village where he built up his library and taught little children. He spearheaded the literacy movement in his small hamlet, a village of few families, where no one, especially the girls, had any schooling. But he relentlessly dedicated his life to ignite the power of learning amongst children, and helped many children graduate from the village.
Like me who had the opportunity to know him right from the days in the department of journalism, there are countless students around the globe who cherish some of the choicest moments that we spent with him. I had the good fortune of being with him till the last moment.
He lives amongst us. Physically, his eyes would light up someone's lives. His body would give the insight to the medical students, to learn and save many lives, in their professional life time. We salute him. And pray to God, to give peace to the departed soul...though we know that though he left in peace, living his life to the fullest, he would not rest...and would be preparing for his next plan of action.
CJ Singh

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

PR Accreditation

PR Accreditation is a big issue and I have been writing about it for quite some times, but not much progress has been achieved. In the recently concluded PR meet in Goa which included the national council meeting also on the 18th, Dr. Ajit Pathak, President, PRSI, informed "about the efforts taken by the PRSI in getting accreditation for public relations practitioners from the Centre on the lines of the highly developed countries, in tune with the emerging economic environment."
This is a good initiative but at the same time the involvement of Centre, or the PIB, or the HR ministry should be restricted only to the extent of regulating and managing the appointment, and promotions of the PR practitioners in the government PR set-up, with the rider to obtain accreditation from the national accreditation board of PR. Because, accreditation of PR has to be managed by a high-powered national-level board of experienced PR professionals, who should conduct the examination, hold interviews, review projects/case studies, and then accredit the practitioners.
It is time that such an accreditation board is constituted independent of any PR body but taking the representation of all the PR societies functional in the country today.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tribune launches Himachal edition

The Tribune launched its Himachal edition two days back. Tribune had its beginning in Lahore, and after partition was printed from Shimla for sometimes, and later at Ambala, before moving into Chandigarh.
The Himachal edition shall continue to be printed from Chandigarh and shall be distributed in Himachal.
The Tribune is perhaps the largest circulated daily in the region with combined circulation of its four editions being over 3 lakh copies.

News Portals

Some of our friends in PR have entered into the online media/PR field with aplomb, and three of them are right here from Chandigarh. For getting information about the city and businesses around here in the northern region, some of the excellent informative portals are :
http://www.citizenxpress.com/, www.indianewscalling.com; and www.infomailers.com. The newsmakers are getting more and more opportunity to reach out to the mediamen.

However, the big question to all those who are handling portals. How many of the media men are truly accessing this news and using it in print? How many of such news is being picked up by other portals?

Let's hear from you.

Media Accountability

Chandigarh chapter of PRSI organised a seminar on 'Media Accountability' on 13th March. The prominent panelists included former editor of Panjabi Tribune, Mr. S.S. Bhullar, advisor to Dainik Bhaskar Mr. V.P. Prabhakar, author and former chairman of the department of mass communication Prof. H.S. Dilgir, a senior journalist from Canada Mr. N.S. Shergill, current chairman of the department of mass communication, Panjab University, Mr. Jayant Pethkar.

The seminar was a result of a recent developments on the vernacular media scene in Punjab during the Punjab Assembly elections held during February. The media had vyed with one another to corner the maximum mullah from the political candidates in the fray not only to publish their advertisement, but also the paid-for 'news', the later being the area of concern for the journalists.

Mr. Bhullar lamented the practice of publishing the 'doctored news' on payment basis with many of them going under print without the statutory disclosure that it was an 'advertisement' or 'advertorial'. He said that the Fourth Estate was the only redeeming factor in the general corruption prevailing in other three 'Estates', which ruefully has also become saleable just like any other commodity.

Mr. Prabhakar said that the media has to be accountable and must work for the social good and vehemently expressed the growing interference of commercial or business side of the newspaper into the editorial arena. He also condemned the advertisements issued by various political parties that were not only aggressive but in bad taste, which need to be refused by the media for which media itself must setup its own code of ethical and moral practices.

Prof. Dilgir felt that for any journalist truth is the only defence and anyone digressing from the facts, accuracy and truth, is digging his own grave. He called upon the journalists to restrain themselves from getting too selfish and materialistic that is taking them away from professional conduct towards corrupt practices.

The panelists and the participants felt that not all was lost since the situation in developed countries like US is also much worst, but freedom must come with a level of responsibility which the mediamen themselves can control and manage to save itself from its degradation.

It was also felt that Press Council of India must be given more teeth so that the erring newspapers and channels can be put to task.

A memorandum in this regard is being sent to various stakeholders, the journalists associations, as well as the PCI for their information and taking up corrective action.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Right to Information Act

We have been hearing a lot on the Rights to Information Act for long, and as it stabilises there had been many hiccups in its implementation...and even now, many have several issues on mind.

To get an update on the Act, the city shall have one of the most prominent contributors to the formation of this Act, Mr. Shekhar Singh, who is the founder member of the National Campaign for the People's Right to Information.

Shekhar Singh has taught at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, at the North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong and at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. He is currently Director of the Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi and has worked with the Government of India and has been Advisor to the Planning Commission of India. He has also been associated with various non-government organisations and popular movements. He is a founding member of the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), a governor of the International Development Research Centre, Canada, and co-chair of the task force on transparency, a part of the Initiative on Policy Dialogue (IPD) of the University of
Columbia. He has authored and co-authored various books.

He will be in Chandigarh on the request of Asian Education Society on 21st March 2007 to address the Seminar at CRRID, at 11am. Mr. Rajan Kashyap, Chief Information Commissioner, Panjab, shall preside over the meeting.

You are most cordially invited.

Scholarship in Journalism

To encourage pursuit of studies in journalism and allied subjects, Rotary News Trust has instituted a scholarship for those eligible candidates in the age group of 20-30 years, who, after graduation, seeks admission in a recognised University imparting education in journalism.

The scholarship equivalent to one year's fee shall be provided on the basis of the selection by the Rotary International District 3080. There is only one scholarship available. The last date for sending in the application to the Rotary Club near you is before 30th April. Only those candidates who have applied for admission and have been selected, shall be eligible for applying for this scholarship.

For further information you can contact me, Rtn. C.J. Singh, District Coordinator for Journalism Scholarship, Rotary International District 3080. info@corepr.com / seejaysingh@gmail.com

Monday, March 05, 2007

PRSI New Website

The National Council of Public Relations Society of India has come up with its own website, www.prsi.co.in. Well the PRSI members can get the latest information about National Council activities from the website. Though many of its pages are under construction, it is hoped that it would fulfil the much felt need of the Society. Congratulations to Dr. Ajit Pathak.

PRSI National Council Meeting

The next National Council meeting of the Public Relations Society of India is scheduled on Saturday 17th March 2007 at Goa.

The meeting shall start at 3pm in the Goa Chamber of Commerce, Panjim.

PR Challenges to Outshine Brand & Business

Goa Chapter of PRSI is organising a one-day workshop on "PR Challenges to Outshine Brand & Businesses" on Sunday, 18th March 2007 at the Goa Chamber of Commerce.
For further details please get in touch with Mr. Rajesh Parida : rajeshparida@goashipyard.com, or call him on 098239 20469.