THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN THE ADVANCEMENT OF DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT
*Caption (R-L): Devanathan Govindsamy (International School Coordinator), Professor Aashish Kumar (Hostra University), Adv. Robin Sewlal (DUT Journalism lecturer), Dr Rene Smith (FAD Executive Dean), Prof Alicia Torres (University of Valladolid), and Ayesha Mall (Head of Department)
Written by: Nqobile Msomi
The Durban University of Technology’s Journalism Programme yesterday hosted two visiting professors in a panel discussion about the role the media in the advancement of democracy and development.
Professor Alicia Torres from Spain, Professor Aashish Kumar from the United States of America (USA) and Tiema Muindi, a Master’s degree graduate in Journalism and lecturer were part of the speakers.
Faculty of Arts and Design’s Executive Dean, Dr Rene Smith, was also in attendance and gave a warm welcome to the speakers.
“In a society where you find that democracy thrives, you will find that media also thrives,” stated Muindi. “So you see that media, development, and democracy, these are partners. If media is not there, democracy cannot survive. If democracy is not there, then development cannot be,” stated Muindi.
Professor Torres, explained the situation in her home country Spain, where they have not had a president since 2015, “partly because the public cannot decide on who they want to vote for”. She shared similar view to that of Muindi.
“In several countries, they don’t have what we have, a democracy and the media are not as strong as other countries. I think that a good democracy is a base for a good system that’s my personal view,” said Torres.
Professor Kumar spoke about the issues affecting the American press and warned against the dangers of media conglomerates who own media companies, advertising companies, and movie studios.
“Ownership in media presents the best opportunity for obtaining synergy for media companies. If you have thousands of radio stations, thousands of print outlets, and scores and scores of billboards and other magazines but if they happened to be opened by five media companies, is there a real polarity (split) and choice for the audience if the same companies’ programming across the board own all these outlets?” questioned Kumar.
In conclusion, Sipho Zulu, DUT Staff Development Coordinator thanked the Journalism Programme for hosting the panel discussion. He pointed out that it helped him, along with the students, get an insight on what was happening in Europe, America, Asia and Africa in terms of media and development.