Visthar Media Research and Activist Forum® was born as a result of decades of media research found that the seamless boundaries of media content and activism converge at the last frontiers of robust, professionally guided vigorous research.

Be it a press conference or documentary filmmaking, radio talks or photo shoots, thorough research of facts, concepts helps in lending more weight, more credibility of the content. The content can engage the reader / viewer / listener or interactive participant only if it retains the focus and attention of the target audience. In the era of the internet and 24X7 TV channels the role of robust research in retaining the attention span of the discrete viewer / listener / reader is very challenging for us in the Fourth Estate.

Such robust professionally focussed research enhances the weight and credibility of media content and can actually constructively contribute to creating solutions. Media being the fourth pillar of Democracy when backed with research and resources for proactive constructive activism can contribute a mighty bit to the strengthening of society. Activism ought to take off where Media trails off due to professional detachment. Credible content can win over an antagonist with reasonable and plausible – wholly plausible perspectives.

While death penalty is an extreme form of sensational debate for instance, robust debate avoiding sensationalism can help us atleast reach plausible solutions…similarly the question of indigenous peoples… politically right perspectives apart, questions need to be asked, solutions need to be found…. Towards this end indeed the Media is a powerful tool for change. Imagine treating such issues in robust multimedia engagement… I have reason to believe that sustained credible campaigns can stymie the rot in the corrupt world order. Enforcement against symptoms only is not going to provide solutions unless the root cause is eliminated – be it any disorder, drugs, death penalty or diabetes.

This in my experience as a freelance photojournalist, writer and filmmaker remains the challenge staring at Media / Fourth Estate. Issues ranging from biodiversity to indigenous peoples’ issues, water and sanitation, poverty, wildlife issues, climate change, public health issues, freedom from corruption needs intellectual engagement and exercising of the non- linear parametres within the skull of intelligent humans – to find lasting solutions for the conflicts plaguing humanity.

I have myself reported on anthropogenic conflict in a biodiversity hotspot – the Western Ghats in India, I have reported on indigenous people, developmental polemics, enviro legal issues, public health, poverty being the montage for HIV, compensatory afforestation and the politics of reforestation, unsustainable fisheries, application of scientific tools for development, sustainable development, disaster management climate change and cropping patterns solid waste management, water crisis, poaching of wildlife, habitat destruction human animal conflict and so on for 2.5 decades. After I started contribution to IPS in 2007 my exposure, engagement and understanding of global issues increased, while simultaneously reinforcing my determination to find solutions. Knowing the shortfalls and challenges we in the Media face, I honed my skills to make credible content plausible in the journey towards universal solutions…

These are the thoughts that marinated in my chest for atleast two decades and then I requested for like – minded thinkers to join hands and sign up for registration of a not for profit organisation – Visthar Media Research and Activist Forum. I do passionately hope that we will be able to put together credible research based solutions to the ills facing our planet. Integral, inclusive growth is the backbone of a prosperous society. The Media plays a pivotal role in such growth.

To be able to reach out / preach to the unconverted we need not just the reach and dexterity of different media…. Print media, photos, web, advertising, radio, TV and social media … but also constructive / proactive well guided activism to supplement intellectual engagement. This kind of proactive activism and constructive engagement we hope will also lead to capacity building of human resources that need to be engaged for universal progress.

Even passive activism like documentation can be progressive and constructive. It also makes for meaty media content! That should explain why the Media needs activists – to energise its content… On that note, cheers to winning your trust and support to do better than our best…It is also our fond hope that our media content will inspire change… inspiring independent activism…

 

Malini Shankar,

Secretary,

VMRAF,

Bangalore

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