On Friday (8 November) Asia Centre in partnership with Oxfam in Asia launched the new Journalism for an Equitable Asia Award.
Nominations for the award will be open starting November 15, and closed on January 31. The award ceremony will be held from March 27-28.
The award aims to recognize “journalists who report to fight the injustice of inequality and poverty.”
The launch included a panel discussion by four journalists and academics about the role of journalism and media in promoting more equitable societies in Asia.
The first panelist was Dr. Jessada Salathong, a lecturer at the Faculty of Communication Arts at Chulalongkorn University. Salathong’s primary area of interest discussed was reporting on climate change, and why marginalized communities and women are most impacted by it.
Supinya Klangnarong (source: Asia Centre)
The second panelist was Supinya Klangnarong, a media rights advocate. Klangnarong spoke about the decline of traditional media, and the disconnect between activists and social media, which she said must be fixed. Specifically, she said that many of her colleagues who tried to “be a voice for the voiceless” were not experienced in using platforms such as Twitter, and therefore had trouble getting their message across society.
The third panelist was Shaikh Ashfaque Zaman, a Bangladeshi journalist and researcher at BRAC, a research NGO. Zaman spoke about the need for researchers to compile data into facts that the public can understand.
The final panelist was Max Lawson, head of Inequality Policy at Oxfam International. Lawson joined the panel via Skype from his location in Nairobi, Kenya. Lawson spoke about the need for journalists who cover inequality to not only cover the lives of the poorest people, but also the richest. He argued that in order to fight poverty, the world’s wealthiest people must be held accountable. Facts about how much money the wealthiest people have in proportion to the poorest must be publicized, he said.
The panel was followed by a Q&A session. Questions included, “How can journalists avoid romanticizing poverty?” and, for Dr. Salathong specifically, “What are you teaching your students while we are in such a fragmented time for journalism?” Salathong explained that many traditional departments of media are losing popularity. For three years, he said, zero students have enrolled in print media, and the second least popular field of study is broadcast. He had to change the name of the broadcast department to, “on-screen performance.” Currently, Salathong said, he has a student who told him, “I want to be a beauty influencer.” Salathong said that students no longer want to work for big media companies, and it was exhausting for him as a faculty to continuously update curricula based on aspirations of young people in modern-day journalism. He said, “We have to disrupt ourselves to keep up with this trend.”
The panel concluded with each panelist except for Lawson, as he did not attend in person, being presented with gifts as a token of appreciation for their time. Asia Centre in partnership with Oxfam in Asia will have the next onsite launch on the 18th of December in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.