A two-day pre-conference on ‘Building Community-Shaping Change – The Role of Community, Citizen and Alternative Media in Regional Transformation’ was held at the University of Hyderabad on July 13-14, 2014.
The pre-conference was organized by the community communication working group (ComCom) of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair on Community Media, University of Hyderabad (UoH).
Shubhranshu Choudhary, winner of the Google Digital Activism Award 2014 for his initiative CGNetSwara, delivered the keynote address. He highlighted the need for democratizing journalism. He said the centralized nature of mainstream media creates problems of ownership and hoped for creation of an alternative media owned and funded by the community.
Arne Hintz, the Coordinator of ComCom, shared IAMCR’s involvement in community media through research, and also talked about the importance of such a pre-conference keeping in view the vibrant community media in the South Asian region. Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair on Community Media, said the pre-conference provided an opportunity to share and showcase the work being done in community media in the South Asian region.
The pre-conference, supported by IAMCR, UNESCO, Ideosync, CEMCA and AMARC Asia Pacific was attended by community media advocates and practitioners from South Asia and also by a number of academics from across the world who also participated in the main International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) conference organized from July 15-19 at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre.
The pre-conference showcased several community media initiatives and impelled discussions on various themes concerning community media. Parallel sessions were held where important questions like the safety of community journalists and freedom of expression, among others were discussed.
Sessions like community radio policy in South Asia, potential for community television in South Asia and facilitating community media in the Asia-pacific region highlighted the need for a community media network in the region.
A session on the role played by women in community communication brought out the various experiences of women working at organisations like Khabar Lahariya, Sangham Radio and Gurgaon ki Awaaz. Issues of marginalised groups like the LBGT were also taken up during the sessions. Transcending cultural and language barriers, the seminar also enabled interactive conversations to determine future courses of action.