Adapt emerging technologies to remain in the race, Urdu journalists told at 5-day workshop

By Syed Khaled Shahbaaz

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Hyderabad: Be progressive, adapt to change and use modern technical tools and technologies to excel in journalism, advised experts during the Workshop for Urdu Journalists organized by Telangana State Urdu Academy last week.

Held virtually, the 5-day national workshop titled Urdu Journalism: Prospects and Challenges, focused on empowering aspiring and practising journalists with the modern means, industrial knowledge and advanced technical skills necessary to stay relevant in contemporary times.

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Resource persons delivered speeches, shared personal experiences and elaborate instructional presentations on various topics from essentials of reporting to journalism in the post COVID era, from legal reporting prerequisites to best practices in pushing digital content fast, industry experts, most addressing virtually from different states across India, called upon journalists to be flexible to changing trends and progressive in technological indulgences.

The workshop, one of the many initiatives of the Academy for promotion of Urdu, was conceptualized to bridge the gap between Urdu journalism and contemporary trends. As explained by Dr Mohammed Ghouse, Director Secretary Telangana State Urdu Academy (TSUA), “The workshop is a gateway to access abundance of industry experience presented to emerging Urdu journalists and those with an interest in mass communication as a career.”

Dr. Ghouse said, “Urdu journalists have a dual responsibility, one as the reporter and other as the reformer of the society through accurate, unadulterated and dutiful presentation of news.”

Resource persons including Arfa Khanam Sherwani, Syed Ahmed Jeelani, Prof. Mustafa Ali Sarvari, Ather Moin, Dr Faheem Ahmed, Mohammed Reyaz,  Afroz Alam Saahin, Mirza Ghani Baig and Khalid Mulla explained the how-tos of investigative journalism to legal reporting best practices, from using Right to Information (RTI) act to data journalism and exploring the untapped potential of social media platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. They talked about using podcasts and (Vlogs) video logs in Urdu journalism during insightful lectures throwing light on the oft-neglected dimensions of journalism in Urdu media.

The academy Chairman Dr Raheemuddin Ansari advised journalists to make good use of India’s freedom of speech for media for developmental reporting. He called upon young journalists to tap into it to deliver untold stories.

Seasoned journalist and editor Mir Ayoob Ali Khan challenged the dichotomy of Urdu journalism in prioritizing local news on prime pages, while calling upon journalists to reinvent themselves in face of necessity. He said, “Journalists must be meticulously prepared to report both local and global matters in Urdu media which is generally perceived to be disproportionately audience oriented”. He noted that the Muslim community is favorably oriented towards international developments like in the Middle East than local developments within their locale or other parts of the country.

Delivering the keynote address during the inaugural program, Senior journalist associated with The Wire Arfa Khannam Sherwani opined that “Worst times are the best times for journalists and journalism aspirants to report truth”. She highlighted the constructive role of Urdu journalism during the independence era while expressing hope that Urdu media would be able to provide leadership in times of crisis in the same way as it helped Indians during the Freedom Movement.”

Shahid Latif, Editor, Inquilab Urdu Daily urged aspiring journalists to make their journalism constructive and society-oriented while Press Council of India Member and senior newsperson M A Majid elaborated the challenges, prospects and career options in Urdu media.

Senior journalist and news commentator Mr. Mehtab Alam, in his keynote address during the valedictory program, exhorted journalists to make use of platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp, besides Facebook and Twitter to tap into untouched markets by Urdu media.

Speaking during the valedictory program, Director Minority Welfare Department, Government of Telangana Mr. Shahnawaz Qasim urged journalists to be proactive in adapting technology for journalism, and said evidence-based non-sensational journalism must be the philosophy of journalists.

He said, “Only change is permanent, and technology is the change”. To avoid becoming obsolete, Urdu journalism must accept the evolution of technology, adapt new tools and platforms like digital media, podcasts, augmented reality, virtual reality, as this may be the new age of journalism in the near future, he said while reiterating how Muslim world’s reluctance to accept printing press technology when it was first introduced resulted in a major setback to their evolution.

This is the era of subscription based journalism which warrants quality and good marketing of content to drive sales, provide easy accessibility on mobile, and is packaged in modern technology and quality content.

He highlighted how digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime can be used to promote Urdu language, and said a language will only become obsolete if it is restricted to a particular medium. Through journalism, we can improve social dimensions, and Urdu is not restricted to a particular community, it is universal, he said. With a little bit of curation of the language using technology, simpler terms for the convenience of wider audiences, Urdu can easily find greater acceptance.

Deputy Director, I and PR Department, Government of Telangana Syed Ahsan Hashmi explained the role of the Information and Public Relations department as the State-managed news supplier.”

Earlier, the TUSA felicitated workshop coordinator S M Fasiullah, Workshop Coordinator for his efforts in successfully organizing the workshop.

Nearly 700 participants from different states registered for the workshop while hundreds joined the broadcast on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Syed Khaled Shahbaaz compeered the valedictory program while Asif Ali conducted the inaugural session.

The 5-day workshop which began on 13th July concluded on 17th July with a valedictory programme.

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