Panel to discuss SMS power vs Media

The recent exodus of northeast citizens from Bangalore still remains fresh in the minds of Bangaloreans even as scores of those who left have started coming back. Everyone acknowledges that SMS messages with murder threats triggered the panic. Going deeper, several analyses have appeared in the media about underlying reasons for a distinctive minority community such as the NE citizens to flee.

From a media standpoint, the exodus has resulted in a closer look at the power of people-to-people communications technologies like SMS, as well as social media such as Facebook. The nature of people-people communication with SMS and social media has a very different dynamic compared to mainline media. The risks of panic developing in a matter of a few hours in mega-urban areas anywhere in the world, particularly in India, where strong assertive minorities live alongside weak leaderless ones.

Usually when the media picks up on a rumour it does not always have to be that it has already spread like fire. Therefore media is perceived to have the ability to neutralise a rumour with verified information. In the recent case of the exodus from Bangalore, by the time the media picked up on it, damage was already done. SMS and Facebook posts had triggered fear and any possibility of sane voices coming back through mass media to curb the panic had waned. Panic had reached a tipping point.

What role can the media play in a time of SMS power and social media addiction? To examine this question and related concerns arising from the exodus event, Media Watch Bengaluru has organised a special panel discussion. Exodus from Bangalore: What role can media play in a time of SMS and FB? at St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science.

The moderated discussion will have Lawrence Liang, S C Dinesh Kumar and Subir Ghosh as speakers.

Liang is a lawyer from Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. He will speak on media, censorship and psychology of fear. Dinesh Kumar a senior Kannada journalist will bring in Kannada media’s perspective.

Subir Ghosh is a journalist-author, currently based in Bangalore. Among other things, he specialises in the Northeast and is the author of ‘Frontier Travails: Northeast – The Politics of a Mess’ published by Macmillan India in 2001. He was an advisory council member of the Centre for Northeast Studies for over 10 years, and has been writing about and reporting from the Northeast for more than 20 years now.

Venue, Time : St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, Xavier Hall (Post Graduate Centre). Friday, 14 September, 4.30 – 7 pm
Address: 36 Lalbagh Road, Shantinagar, Bangalore
[Entrance from road between Richmond Circle Flyover/Double Road and Hockey Stadium/Nanjappa Circle]
Parking is available at the venue and entry is free.

This event is sponsored by Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, and St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science.

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