Qaide Milleth International Academy of Media Studies inaugurated in Chennai
Chennai: N. Ram, Chairman of Kasturi and Sons (publishers of The Hindu), inaugurated here on 23 April a new bilingual media studies institution – Qaide Milleth International Academy of Media Studies (QIAMS). Speaking on the occasion, Ram said that journalism was in the midst of radical changes, with digital journalism changing “the game completely.” Ram said that the print media, in particular, was facing pressures from technological advances and societal changes, although the Indian print media had managed to resist some of these pressures and continues to grow.
Ram said that an upturn in the fortunes of the news media did not automatically meant that journalism was being properly practiced. He said, “I want to make a distinction between fortunes of the news media and journalism. It comes back to whether values of journalism are being compromised.” Proper journalism, he said, has two functions – to provide credible information and to critically investigate.
Ram pushed for a more diverse set of voices in the news industry, noting in particular that there were very few Muslim women in the industry. He said that he hoped that QIAMS would work towards rectifying this situation by having a significant number of Muslim female students in its classrooms.
General Secretary of QIAMS Dawood Miakhan, who is the grandson of the renowned leader Qaide Milleth Mohammad Ismail, assured Ram of QIAMS’s willingness to take in Muslim female students and announced that the SIET chairman and former Cabinet Secretary Moosa Raza had given an assurance that 25 women students from his college would be provided scholarships to study in QIAMS.
Dawood Miakhan also spoke about how news can be manipulated to influence public opinion. He said that media was made to believe before the Gulf War that Iraq held “weapons of mass destruction,” which made it possible for the United States and other Western countries to legitimize their invasion of Iraq. He pointed out that Halliburton, an American oil field service company, started drilling for oil very soon after the invasion.
Nakkeeran Gopal, the editor of the bi-weekly Nakkeeran, also spoke at the inauguration function of QIAMS. He reminisced about the difficulties he had faced during his journalism career. “If people knew the difficulties I faced, no one would want to join journalism,” he said. He thanked Ram, who, he said, stood with him as he faced the wrath of the government in the wake of his investigative stories. He said more independent voices were needed to ensure that the media was able to properly fulfil its role as one of the pillars of democracy.
Former Mayor of Chennai Saidai Duraisamy, speaking on the occasion, said that it was “necessary for upright people to be part of the news media industry,” which, he pointed, out was the fourth pillar of a proper, functioning democracy.
Dato Seri Mohamed Iqbal, one of Malaysia’s most well-known business and social entrepreneurs, was also present at the QIAMS inauguration function. Iqbal said that there was a serious need to combat the false news being spread on social media.
N.M. Ameen, who is the Chief Editor of the Navamani in Sri Lanka and President of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said that there is a “need for a reformulation of journalism education and training to enable a more responsible web news circulation.” He said that the freedom for everyone to express their opinions “without care for negative impacts” had become a source of social conflict.
Gnani, veteran journalist and one of those who first envisioned the setting up of QIAMS, pointed out that there was no college that taught Tamil journalism. He said he was happy that QIAMS was going to teach the students in both Tamil and English. He emphasized the importance of teaching ethics to students, saying, “Ethical public life is what is most needed. Not (simply) skill-set.”
Dr. S. Sathikh, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Madras, was among others who were present on the occasion.