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Evolving media face novel challenges

  • Published at 02:05 am October 7th, 2018
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Discussants at the panel titled ‘Crazy Rich Asians? Asian Values in the Asian Century’ at the Dhaka Tribune Media Conclave on Saturday, October 6, 2018 Rajib Dhar/ Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka Tribune Media Conclave 2018 ends with talks on the future of media, Asian nations and the Rohingya crisis

The Dhaka Tribune Media Conclave drew to a close at the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital on Saturday.

The two-day Conclave, which was the first of its kind in Bangladesh, brought together senior media leaders, policy makers and influencers from home and abroad to explore major issues affecting contemporary journalism through a series of panel discussions.

Three panel discussions were held on the final day.

Brave New World: The Future of Digital Media

Moderator: Tanim Ahmed

Panelists:  Naresh Fernandes, Hugo Restall, Shafiqul Alam, Ayesha Kabir

The discussants identified three main challenges facing the digital media in this age.

The first challenge identified is that despite the rapid growth of news websites, nobody is making any money, which means that many online news agencies are likely to shut down within a few years. Paywalls introduced by some news organizations globally are  absent in Bangladesh, limiting revenue generation.

The second problem is traffic-driven content, wherein news websites use analytics to understand trends and throw resources towards light content, shying away from real journalism. Focusing on these types of stories means ignoring more challenging stories and depriving readers of a realistic sense of the world.

Thirdly, the discussants raised concerns about the protection of content, saying that only a few digital media outlets send their own reporters into the field, and that the report they collect and upload gets stolen by everyone else. Such content is flooding the internet and thus people often do not want to read detailed news coverage.

Crazy Rich Asians? Asian Values in the Asian Century

Moderator: Asif Islam

Panelists: Gwen Robinson, Hugo Restall, Max Rodenbeck, Zafar Sobhan

Discussing the Asian ascendancy, the panelists said there is an innate belief in Asia that stability brings economic advancement and that a Chinese model based on one-party control and central control can advance a country to an extent. However, attracting investment does not work the same way around the world as it did in the decades when Asia was rising, the discussants said. The big money demands safeguards such as predictability, respect for the rule of law, good communications, and reasonable taxation. Many of the most successful economies in Asia have competed in those terms, such as Singapore. The panelists also cited Vietnam as an example of the Asian states that might find themselves caught in between western and Chinese power. The discussants labelled India as a “mystery”, as it appears uncertain of the position it wants to hold in the world.

Minority Rights: What the Rohingya Crisis Means for the Region

Moderator: Zafar Sobhan

Panelists: Michael Vatikiotis, Syed Zain Al-Mahmood, Gwen Robinson, Sadaf Saaz

Discussants thought it  important to listen to the Rohingya victims before trying to decide their fates. Along with the intergovernmental talks and the discussions by international pressure groups, there should be talks between the displaced Rohingya and the Myanmar government to resolve the crisis. The world should stop speaking on behalf of the the Rohingya and give them the necessary opportunities to raise their voice and choose their future.

Discussants said the Rohingya community leaders, who are called majhi, have less credibility among their own people in the camps. There should be a mechanism so that Rohingya leaders can be chosen to raise their voices in support of their rights and to negotiate with the Myanmar government.

A discussant argued that despite the ongoing diplomatic efforts, the repatriation of the Rohingyas is close to impossible. The Rohingyas who have been living almost a confined life with near-zero productivity should be provided with work facilities so that they can be self dependent. Even a special EPZ could be established for them in the camp areas.