Pune: The discussion on alternative media and its challenges in the Indian environment was held at the Lavale campus of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication. The day-long event started at 10 am in the presence of the guests, that included Sevanti Ninan founder of the ‘The Hoot,’ Pankaj Jain from Social Media Hoax Slayer. Govindraj Ethiraj, from IndiaSpend, one of the four winners of the McNulty Prize this year also attended along with Jaskirat Singh Bawa of the Quint.
The day began with the Director, Ruchi Jaggi felicitating the speakers. “While we do have teachers who do touch upon these subjects in class heavily, it was important to formalize it. The idea was to create an open forum and change the context a bit so we can talk freely about issues related to news today,” she stated.
Sevanti Ninan, spoke from her 17 years of running ‘The Hoot,’ about the evolution of Indian media through the years. “Media watching needs to be more than just alternative. There are no television programme related to this. The biggest cause of this is looking for funding for media watch organizations,” Ninan explains.
Govindraj Ethiraj spoke about how he was inspired to begin IndiaSpend after the Anna Hazare movement. His approach to data journalism was defined by figures and emotions. He says, “Data is always the starting point. But people care once when you pick something up and associate it with a social cause.” Ethiraj who also runs fact checking sites like the Fact Checker and Boom also cited examples that showed how public rage with a clouded vision obfuscates public policy.
The second half of the day was marked by the panel discussion between the speakers with the inclusion of Siddharthya Roy of ‘The Diplomat.’ Conducted by Professor Sneha Gore, the session allowed the group to expand on several subjects like business models of online news organizations and the importance of breaking news.