Truth, Connection and Change: MV Kamath Endowment Lecture3 min read
MANIPAL: The fifth M V Kamath Endowment Lecture was held by Manipal Institute of Communication (MIC) on October 5 2019, in Chaitya Hall, Hotel Fortune Inn Valley View. Chief Guest Raj Chengappa, veteran journalist and current Group Editorial Director (Publishing) of the India Today Group delivered the endowment lecture. The Guest of Honour for the lecture was Dr Poornima Baliga B, currently the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health Sciences), MAHE. On addressing the gathering, Dr Poornima fondly recollected her memories of M V Kamath, speaking of his ability to bond with individuals of all ages and commending his great work ethic. Since the demise of M V Kamath in 2014, MIC has conducted an endowment lecture annually in his memory.
The topic of the lecture was ‘The Press and the New India’. Chengappa recalled to the youthful audience the typewriter he used while making his way up through the communication field and the telegraph office which spit out their stories, drawing attention to the stark differences in the printing and publishing industries of now and yesterday.
Having over 40 years of experience in the field of journalism and overseeing Business Today, Mail Today, Reader’s Digest and Harper’s Bazaar, the ex-Editor-in-Chief of the Tribune Group of Newspapers recollected stories and news items that he covered over the course of his career that taught him valuable lessons that stuck with him. In the story of Lakshmi, a destitute woman in the railway station, he found himself questioning why he is looking into such a case, having done two degrees and having completed such high levels of education. He struggled to get her to a hospital, considering it to be his ‘journalistic duty.’ He succeeded in that, but she succumbed the next day to her condition. “We live in cities, and we probably see these scenes every day, but we don’t know what to do. I’m sure you’ve seen such cases of beggars or people lying on the floor, and no one does anything,” he said, stressing on how caught up people can be in their work and schedules. The lead story that came out of this incident resulted in a tremendous response, with the municipality taking more responsibility for the destitute people, offering helplines and hospitals to aid them.
“The most important thing about communication is connection. You have to connect with people. You are not writing abstract things. You’re not writing about people that don’t matter. Even as we write, even in New India, it is important to understand why you want a certain piece of information. How does it matter to you?” he asked the audience.
Chengappa raised important questions a journalist should ask oneself before reporting. A journalist must understand the motive behind reporting an incident, whether it is merely to inform the public or the readers, or whether the journalist has found the connect with a piece of information that he desires to share with the public.
Speaking of the key feature of journalism, he remarked, “Journalism is all about truth. We use big words such as freedom of the press, and the big truth. But is truth truly true? Truth is a perception. It is how you look at the truth from various vantage points.”
Chengappa concluded by saying that in his career of 40 odd years, the best advice he could give was to find connection. “Journalism is all about finding that connection, and making what you do relevant, so that you start bringing change. From your heart, from your mind, build that connection. We are all human beings here to support each other. Find it and it will be tremendously satisfying. Touch someone with your writing. That is more important to me than any achievement of mine over these 40 years.”
Featured Image Courtesy: Abhishek Manoharan
Edited by: Vaibhavi Vaman