8 journalists representing 8 media house from Assam, Tripura, Sikkim and Delhi participated in three-day residential Certificate Course on Public Policy for Journalists from 11-13 October 2010 in Guwahati. Pioneered by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), this new initiative started in 2009 in partnership with Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) with an objective to provide journalists with a better understanding of public policy, its formulation and evaluation of its impact on citizens thereby enabling them to better report on important social, political and economic issues.
Mr Ranjan Baruah, CCS graduate and LYF (Liberal Youth Forum) memberwas the local coordinator for the program.
The workshop was designed keeping in mind the key objectives of introducing/popularising liberal solutions to existing problems in India with a focus on public policy especially in North East India and equipping journalists with the necessary tools to critically analyse issues. All the sessions were participatory in methodology and included a brief overview and input by session speakers followed by working groups and open forum discussions.
The opening session 'Agents of Change: Media & Public Policy' saw Mr Dhiren Bezboruah highlight some of the common challenges journalists encounter in their work and cited smart solutions and methodology to overcome them. He brought to light some path-breaking media reports/articles/programs that influenced and help shape policies in India. A question and answer round followed where participants addressed relevant issues/questions regarding the media sector in India. Overall this session was insightful as well as inspiring.
Session two on 'Sound Public Policy: Principles & Analyses' with input from Dr Parth J Shah, President, CCS was a comprehensive introduction to public policy, its formulation and analysis. Citing various examples, he highlighted ‘10 Principles of Sound Public Policy’. These principles debated and discussed with the participants formed the basis for the rest of the sessions during the course.
At the end of the first day, a competition on best marketable story titled 'From Page 10 to Page 1' was organized. Participants were divided into four groups and each was given a story line to write an article based on their learning’s from the course. These articles were evaluated by Mr Sam Rajappa, Director, The Statesman School of Journalism on the final day. There articles were on:
Punjab farmers stage protest against Government Ban of Introduction of BT Brinjal (Winner)
PDS, a fiasco
3 lakhs deprives from Right to Livelihood, Government keeps tight lips on street vendors
Fund Students, Not Schools!
The second day started with the session 'RTE: Impacts & Challenges'. Conducted by Dr Parth J Shah, the session highlighted the discrepancies abound in the education sector in India especially in the light of the historic legislation of the RTE Act 2009. He raised pertinent concerns and loopholes in the Act while suggesting tried and tested solutions and the way forward. Each participant shared their experience with both underperforming government schools as well as overtly priced private schools in their respective cities.
'Bamboo is not a Tree!' session saw Mr Kaamesh Salam, President, World Bamboo Organisation gave an overview of his work in protecting the environment and at the same time promoting the awareness of Bamboo. He highlighted the blunder in The Indian Forest Act (1927) which classifies bamboo, now a scientifically recognised grass, as a tree and cited recommendations to amend the Act.
'Breaking Free of Stereotypes' with input by Ms Manali Shah, Executive Programs, FNF and Ms Baishali Bomjan, Communication & Programs Manager, CCS highlighted the multiple facets of communication process and the significance of personal perspective of issues. This was followed by role play and group discussion.
During the 'Researching Reality' session Dr Parth J Shah presented the fundamentals of how research is conducted and the key players involved in it. Participants were then divided into two groups and each group was given a storyline to report on. The role play by participants was engaging and fun but also highlighted some major gaps to be filled in by journalists while reporting on key issues.
The third day started with the 'Sound Policy Index: North East-Challenges and Opportunities'. Jointly conducted by Dr Parth J Shah and Mr Manoj Mathew, Programs Director, CCS the session was a deeper reflection on diverse issues plaguing India today. Styled in the form of an open discussion following a series of questionnaires, the session was very reflective of the degree of liberal bend of each participant.
The final session 'Journalism: Engage, Interpret & Connect' saw Mr Sam Rajappa share his journey from a budding journalist to now being the director of a journalism school. He gave an insiders’ perspective on the functioning of the media sector as well as highlighted some path-breaking media initiatives.
The program ended with the announcement of the winner of 'From page 10 to page 1' competition and the awards ceremony.
Media Coverage of the program:
To see photos of the event please click here.