Sep 102016


jaishankar-600In a keynote address on the opening morning of the 2016 East-West Center International Media Conference, Indian Foreign Secretary Dr. S. Jaishankar said that India sits at an important geo-political crossroad, and that its ability to integrate more closely to the East has the potential to transform the Asian landscape.

In many ways, this eastward focus “has been the greatest change in my four decades as an Indian diplomat,” Jaishankar said. Having served in Japan, Singapore and China, he said, “I have some advantage of developing insights from field experience. In my view, the strategic implications of the eastward interface of the Indian sub-continent are still unfolding … and its quickening pace now certainly elicits greater attention.” (View video of Secretary Jaishankar’s full address, or read a transcript.) Continue reading »

Sep 102016

satyarthi1-webSpeaking to some 350 journalists and media professionals from more than 40 countries gathered this week at the 2016 East-West Center International Media Conference in New Delhi, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi delivered a call to action on child slavery and trafficking, saying, “The main thing is, do something.”

“There’s no greater violence than to deny the dreams of our children,” said Satyarthi, who is credited with rescuing more than 80,000 children in 144 countries from forced labor and human trafficking through his Children’s Foundation. “I refuse to accept that the laws and constitutions are unable to protect our children. Today is a time for every child to have a right to life. I refuse to accept that the shackles of slavery can be stronger than the quest for freedom.” (Watch video of his address.) Continue reading »

Sep 092016

political-security1-470This year’s EWC International Media Conference in New Delhi opened with a robust plenary panel on current security and political relations between South and East Asia, with veteran NPR correspondent Julie McCarthy moderating a distinguished panel of journalists and scholars from the U.S., India, China, Japan and Thailand.

Anja Manuel, author of This Brave New World: India, China, and the United States, began the session by stating that “the rise of Asia is a hopeful trend,” but “much of the world appears to be in a defensive crouch.” Manuel cited the Brexit movement and the rise of right-wing groups throughout Europe as evidence of this global trend, along with the possible retrenchment of American trade abroad, a phenomenon that is a prime issue in the current U.S. presidential election. (Watch video of the panel.) Continue reading »

Sep 092016

panama-papers1-gk-490The massive investigative release of the so-called “Panama Papers” last April exposing more than 200,000 secret off-shore bank accounts of the rich and powerful around around the globe “changed how we think about our craft, and how we collaborate with each other,” said David Kaplan, director of the public-interest association Global Investigative Journalism and moderator of an EWC International Media Conference panel of journalists who had worked on the project.

“Because the media has been hollowed out in so many ways, collaboration is more important than ever,” Kaplan said. The new buzzwords, he said, are data analysis and cross-border reporting, which were the secrets to the success of this project. Continue reading »

Sep 092016

Prolific and diverse, the Indian film industry produces more movies than any other country – about 1,500 or more annually, which is more than twice as many as Hollywood does. Focusing on the societal impacts of this huge film world, actor/director Prakash Belawadi and scholar/documentarian Shohini Ghosh joined moderator Lorraine Mahia Ali, a culture writer for The Los Angeles Times, to discuss the role cinema plays in influencing and reflecting India’s national dialogues.

Ghosh, a professor of media and a documentary filmmaker, said that because of the wide reach and popularity of Indian cinema, films are often at the center of public debate on issues such as cultural identity, nationalism, religion and sexuality. “Those debates usually center on the negative impact,” she said, “thereby holding cinematic media responsible for a variety of real and imagined societal ills.”

Belawadi, who is based in Bangalore, said that beyond the world of racy Bollywood blockbusters, India’s films are uniquely “divided by identities, territories, language, ethnicities, cost and languages. It is a challenge to reflect an Indian reality.” In fact, regional cinema in languages other than Hindi account for more than 40% of national box office revenue. Continue reading »

Sep 092016

herbst-gk-600Dr. Jeffrey Herbst, President and CEO of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., spoke via Skype about the growing trend of social media companies like Facebook using computer algorithms to give consumers news that the programs think they’ll be interested in. Calling the trend more significant than the original emergence of news websites, Herbst said the problem is that social media companies, “which do not consider themselves news organizations, are more interested in keeping users’ attention within their platform than they are with delivering important news.”

Watch a pre-recorded version of Herbst’s remarks.

Continue reading »

Sep 092016

“Working in a war zone is very hard,” commented Jawad Sukhayar, a reporter for The New York Times based in Kabul, Afghanistan, during an EWC Media Conference panel on “The War on Terrorism from the Journalists Who Report On It.” Though the statement might seem self evident, the panelists were there to describe just how hard it is to report on, and live, in an insecure region or state.

war-on-terror-webSukhayar was the first to speak among the panel of four journalists from Afghanistan, India and Turkey, each of them presently navigating imminent danger and political resistance in their beat. He began by telling stories from the too-numerous incidents of violent extremism and targeted killing of journalists in Afghanistan, punctuated by the most recent twin attacks in Kabul on Sept. 5 that killed at least 24 and came within half an hour of each other. Sukhayar commented that “as a journalist, I try to make it to the scene as soon as possible, but this attack was planned in such a way that they would kill journalists that had arrived at the first attack.” Continue reading »

Sep 092016

Selected snaps from EWC 2016 International Media Conference afternoon study tours to Old Delhi, diverse religious and historical sites, and a rehabilitation program at a women’s prison.

Sep 082016

verma-reception1-webThe East-West Center’s 2016 International Media Conference kicked off Thursday evening with a reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma at Roosevelt House, his iconic residence on the embassy grounds. About 400 guests mingled in the elegant halls and patio, many reuniting with colleagues from previous EWC media programs.

The ambassador spoke briefly about what he called “one of the strongest periods ever” in U.S.-India relations, including a recent visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for a comprehensive strategic and commercial dialogue, and a pair of meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Modi in just the last few days on the sidelines of several international summits. Continue reading »