We should do “regular” and “sustained” media coverage and highlight those stories of positive change makers.
“Media people should be the change makers and that’s why Journalism was born,” says Devendra Tak, the national manager and communication head at ‘Save the children’. Tak began his career as a print journalist at The Independent, Business India and Indian Express Online.
Tak, the winner of Rex Global Fellowship in 2012, also worked as the communication and media manager at CIVICUS for a few years and then as the communication and development consultant at UNICEF. Presently being a part of ‘Save the children’, he expresses, “I have been working here for eight years now and I am very proud to be here.”
‘Save the children’ is an old organisation of about 101 years, which has been working globally over 120 countries. It is one of the biggest children organisations aiding underprivileged children. “Children are not the future, they are the present of the world,” says Tak. Currently the children are going through a very tough time and particularly during COVID.
Tak was interacting with students in a webinar series - christened as #MediaNext 2020, hosted by Adamas University, Kolkata recently. ABP Education was a partner of MediaNext 2020. Here are the excerpts from his talk:
Indian media is the second most un-trusted institution in the world, according to Edelman Reports. Tak says the media is going through a troubled time right now. The revenue is threatened and they are not able to dedicate the required resources to keep the media work going on. There’s an uncertainty about how soon this crisis will get over. The media is also facing a threat as there are a lot of people who are spreading ‘misinformation’, due to which Indian media is one of the most toxic media in the world, which is a very shameful thing, because media is more into spreading information, in fact more than government and health organisations, people refer to media to learn about COVID.
“I don’t know how things are going to change, but we definitely need to have more media people who are responsible and who are able to be the change. Media people should be the change makers and that’s why journalism was born,” says Tak and the journey of his career from print journalism to ‘Save the children’ clearly portrays how dedicated he is towards the statement.
“Journalism was regarded as an important way to bring about change because it could spread ideas very quickly,” Tak added. Media should actually just present information and ideas just the way it is and not present its own views and opinions, because that’s not the purpose of the media to give a particular bias or stance to a story. It should give the true picture, probably what’s not happening right now.
“We have been talking about Digital India in the past few years, but we were not really getting used to this virtual thing. The idea to really think differently and smartly will make people stand out and develop. The future is what we talk about, the new media, new tools, virtual reality (VR), Augmented reality (AR) and so on,” says Devendra Tak.
One can’t predict right now what will happen in one or two years. But there are always opportunities for people who are able to adapt, innovate and be creative. Tak added, “the time is now to understand that we are in a challenging situation, we need to really step up, by being empathetic, be connected, whatever we do should provide true value.”
Tak also gave wonderful advice to the upcoming journalists and media people. The focus of the media cannot change. The focus of the media only is to inform and “to bring about change” and everybody wants to bring about “positive change”, then why don’t we carry more positive stories, instead of just talking about the crisis and problems. Particularly the young people getting into media do regular studies on media in a sustained manner which can bring about positive change. We should do “regular” and “sustained” media coverage and highlight those stories of positive change makers who are actually making a change.
Here, Tak highlighted the incident of the cyclone that happened in Bengal, Amphan, the media people appeared for one or two days covering the damage and destruction and the situation of the people, and then they just went away. Tak raised the question, “but, what about rebuilding those people’s lives and to help and showcase those people and organisations who are doing positive work, and also give solutions from experts who ensure that people can get back into their lives and rebuild their lives. These are the purposes of journalism.”
Tak says that the media is too much taken up by negativity, by presenting stories in a negative way right now, that attitude must change and we must focus more on bringing about positive stories in a regular and sustained manner, with responsibility and also with empathy. He explains, “we are reporting about the planet and the people, we are all connected, we are talking about our own lives.”
“If journalism and media does not point out such things and highlight such positive stories”, he says, “then how will these positive stories be shared, how these good ideas will be known to people and how will the good models be replicated to ensure that people can bounce back after a crisis.”
During his work of ‘Save the children’ he came across some exclusive and very different stories of 15 children. Tak wrote the book, “We are the champions” with his co-author Rashmi Bansal. The book is listed in the top 60 bestselling books on Amazon and Kindle. It holds a position in the top 20 books on civil rights in 2020 globally.
He has been writing from a very young age but with time he started to think what can be really worth writing about. Writing fictional stories did not really interest him. When he met these children during his work of Save the children, he found their story more interesting and stranger than fiction. Each of their stories were so interesting and amazing.
In “We are the champions” he interviewed more than 30 children from 11 states across India. Out of these, 15 children had very different stories. Issues like child labour, child trafficking, health & hygiene, lack of education. “These children really showed that how children themselves are creating change for other children, for the community and the nation.” Such stories will inspire more change makers and he quoted that “everyone can be a changemaker” with the right intent.
“The challenge is to show the way out, what the world needs right now during this pandemic is a solution,” says Tak. World needs people who are going to drive positive change. It's really wasteful if people just go on talking about positive change but do not take any action, which is harmful to the nation, the world as well.
If we remain connected and help other people to improve their lives and to be better and healthier, and happier then definitely our own lives will also be richer, explains Tak. “I think empathy really needs to come from within and media people should be responsible and do sustained media coverage in a regular manner, in a positive way to bring about lasting change.”
We need to find a new path and lead the world to the new heights of achievement. If we are going to benefit others, automatically we will benefit ourselves. “We cannot be selfish, we have to be empathetic, and understand that we are connected,” Devendra Tak says to fight this pandemic.
Further, from the media’s point of view, Journalists should bring out stories which can help others to improve their lives, he said adding that people have heard enough of negativity, they are tired and there’s so much fear in people’s minds, they need solutions now.
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