Thursday, July 20, 2017

BIS #5158 SPREAD THE LIGHT: DON BOSCO TRAINS CITIZEN JOURNALISTS

by Chris Valentino 

MUMBAI, JULY 20, 2017: Don Bosco Communications, the media wing of the Mumbai Salesians of Don Bosco organised a two-day intensive seminar-cum-workshop for its media correspondents on July 18-19 at the sprawling Don Bosco Educational Campus at Matunga, Mumbai. 

Coordinated by Father Joaquim Fernandes, Regional Director of BOSCOM South Asia and Executive Director of Tej-Prasarini, over 60 participants availed of this opportunity to be trained in the rudiments of smart and sensible communication.

Dr Matthew Coutinho, Professor of Moral Theology at the Ratisbonne Theological College, Jerusalem initiated the proceedings and set the pace with his brief inaugural quip, "We need to be heralds of the good news with specific focus on communicating the truth in honesty, charity and with ethical sensibility." 

Presenting the Salesian Social Communication System, Father Fernandes, introduced the multi-faceted programme and invited the participants to "Be aware that we are creators, contributors and consumers in the 'digital continent' and that our playing field is the 'virtual playground'. What we write and post is out there for the entire world to see, since the Don Bosco Society is a mammoth network active in 132 countries," he said.

Karen Laurie, Editor, Bosco Information Service (BIS) accompanied the participants beginning with the 5W's + 1H formula, and walking them through the process of active reportage akin the La Pyramide Inversée model of news-writing. Covering the essentials Laurie demonstrated through interactivity, the know-how of 'headlines, bylines, the main content body and the wrap up'.

"It is extremely important to enable a logical flow of the event covered, or else one will be left riddled in the labyrinthic maze of heightened perplexity," explained Laurie, in her attempt to emphasise 'inclusion and avoidance' of certain debatable commonalities in the reports sent to the desk. Further on, the participants were guided to understand the process of 'interviewing, writing and publishing'.

Acclaimed journo couple, Shishir Joshi and Saira Menezes wafted in to a thunderous applause enlivening the closeted auditorium on a cloud-enveloped balmy Mumbai afternoon, adding the much needed zing to the communicative process. Drawing responses from the eager learners, pepped with his inimitable humourous sensibility, Joshi dwelt on the 'structure of the newsroom', the journalistic means and methods to cover a story by cutting off the noise while amplifying the significant. He enunciated, "Start with a 'hello'. Get into conversations, be relational, listen attentively, exchange pleasantries and engage in peacetime networking, if you wish to be a good reporter; for it is better to 'ask the horse' than rely on info gleaned from the chaotic social media." 

Thereafter, Menezes took over the reins and pressed on the pedal to get the participants thinking, doodling, and learning. With pertinent references to well-covered stories, Menezes' zesty presentation drove home the point succinctly, "If you want to be good correspondents, hone your skills to be comprehensive, engaging, relevant and interesting. There is a long way to go, yet you can make it if you think of yourself as a crossbreed with the depth of a hedgehog and the width of the hare."  


The evening was dedicated to "Stop Faking It: detecting, comprehending, fixing, confronting" the Fake News web of deceit. In a brief 30-minute presentation, Father Chris Valentino appealed that "we need to be informed citizens, act as catalysts to create and sustain a healthy ecosystem of truth-tellers amidst the alarmingly prevalent subgenre of misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms."

The news ninjas then clambered aboard into a bus, navigated through pothole-riddled, rain-distressed cho-a-bloc Mumbai homegoing traffic, to ascertain the ground reality at Don Bosco Centre for Learning Kurla, with Father Colbert DaSilva and Father Joseph Braganza who oriented the troop on "Writing for Success." 

Sabrina Alathi, video expert from Chennai, embarked on a dawn-to-dusk 'filmathon' on day two, with an extensive lecture-cum-practicum on 'Using Smart Phones for Social Change: Becoming a Pocket Filmmaker'. The participants went through the process of pre and post-production interspersed with visual learning, shooting and editing. "The creation should go beyond the creator and reach the end-user for whom it is envisaged; the onus hence rests on us who create videos to ensure intelligent deliverability employing the time honoured tips and techniques associated with filming," said Alathi. The participants were helped in the venture by the professional expertise of Nelson Fernandes, Founder-Director of Carnel Videos. 

The workshop comprised senior teachers, lecturers, media aspirants, media students and novice learners. "I just loved the entire programme," Aubrey Rebeiro said, adding, "The entire seminar was a learning experience." Simran Sharma, a media media student said, "I simply loved the entire thing. There is so much to learn and I enjoyed being a part of this workshop. I especially liked the presentation made by Karen." Perpetual Nazareth, a language teacher said, "It was wonderful. I had heard about it from one of my colleagues who had attended it the previous year and I was looking forward to being here. I loved the experience." 

Effusive appreciation justified the organisation of this timely programme, with the coordinating staff of Tej-Prasarini Don Bosco Communications and the hosts at Don Bosco Provincial House Mumbai hoping that 'learning would lead to action, and that action would conquer the fear of the mysterious, even as empowered reporters essay their roles responsibly'.